SUSAN ORLEAN, New York Times Best-Selling Author (The Orchid Thief) and staff writer for The New Yorker magazine, will appear as the Guest Speaker at the Westside Center for Independent Living's Associates' (WCIL's) Annual Literary Tea to be held on Tuesday, December 13, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. at a private home in Beverly Hills, CA, at which time Orlean will talk about and sign copies of her latest critically acclaimed book, Rin Tin Tin, The Life and the Legend.
Tickets for this fundraising event are $75 each, and may be secured by calling Jenn Gunn Steip at the WCIL office at 310-568-0107, ext. 25. The event is open to the general public, but reservations are required. To learn more about WCIL, please visit the website, www.wcil.org.
As one of the most creative literary journalists of today, Susan Orlean is the author of the best-selling book, The Orchid Thief, which was made into the Academy Award-winning movie, Adaptation.
Her latest work, Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend (Simon & Schuster; September 27, 2011; $26.99), tells the story of Rin Tin Tin's journey from orphaned puppy to movie star and international icon. From the moment in 1918 when Corporal Lee Duncan discovers Rin Tin Tin on a World War I battlefield, he recognizes something in the pup that he needs to share with the world. Rin Tin Tin's improbable introduction to Hollywood leads to the dog's first blockbuster film and over time, the many radio programs, movies, and television shows that follow. The canine hero's legacy is cemented by Duncan, and a small group of others who devote their lives to keeping him and his descendants alive.
Orlean writes, "I knew that I loved the unfurling narrative of Rin Tin Tin because it contained so many stories within it. It is a tale of lost families, and of identity, and also of the way we live with animals; a story of luck, both good and bad, and the half turns that life takes all the time. It's a story of war as well as a story of amusement and an account of how we create heroes and what we want from them. It lays out, through the story of Rin Tin Tin, the whole range of devotion-to ideas and to a companion-as well as the pure, half-magical devotion an animal can have to a person. It's also the story of an extraordinary journey through place and time-across land and sea, in war and in peacetime, from poverty to wealth and back again, from obscurity to fame-and, from there, into the murky world of the once famous and almost obscure."
Additional Background Information About The Book:
Lee Duncan was a corporal in the trenches of World War I France when he rescued a German shepherd and her pups from an artillery-barraged kennel. One of those puppies was Rin Tin Tin, and Duncan-who himself had been placed in an orphanage by his mother-bonded immediately with the dog. Bringing Rinty back to Los Angeles, he pounded the pavement, trying to get the dog work as an actor in the burgeoning silent film industry.
Duncan's persistence, bolstered by his talents as a trainer, paid off, and within a few years Rin Tin Tin was a major star, out-earning his human co-stars. With the advent of "talkies," Rinty's career waned, but after the dog's death in 1932, his offspring would continue his work, appearing in movies, radio shows, and eventually a hit television show; traveling the country making personal appearances; and spawning merchandise and memorabilia. Through it all, Duncan rode the ebbs and flows of Rin Tin Tin's fame and fortune-sometimes rich, sometimes close to destitute.
In her book, Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, Susan Orlean reconstructs the intertwined biographies of Duncan and his famous dog, detailing how Rin Tin Tin's popularity paralleled a new way of looking at dogs as companions, which accompanied the urbanization of the country. This domestication brought with it a whole industry of dog training techniques, as well as new popular breeds. Perhaps inspired by Rinty's famous acts of screen courage, many citizens donated their dogs to the war effort during the Second World War. Other dogs, including Lassie, entered the zeitgeist as iconic canines, yet Rin Tin Tin remains the most enduring symbol not only of the ideal dog but of a kind of noble loyalty.
More About Susan Orlean:
Susan Orlean became a staff writer for The New Yorker in 1992. Orlean has written dozens of "Talk of the Town" pieces, as well as "Profiles" and "Reporter at Large" articles, as well as a series of American popular culture columns, called "Popular Chronicles." The "Chronicles" thus far have included subjects such as an article on taxidermy, umbrella inventors, designer Bill Blass, Harlem high school basketball star Felipe Lopez, the friends and neighbors of Tonya Harding, and D.J. Red Alert, a hip-hop radio star in New York.