Susan Orlean is a New Yorker staff writer and the author most recently of Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend. Her book The Orchid Thief was made into the Oscar-winning movie Adaptation (in which she was played by Meryl Streep). Before participating in a panel on whether the arts make us better people, she revealed what’s hanging on her living room walls, her writer’s block cure, and what she loves about L.A. in the Zócalo green room.
What’s your favorite condiment?
If you could be any animal, which would you choose?
A fox. Because they’re so pretty. And they’re sly, and every single time anybody types on a typewriter they invoke you: “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”
How do you combat writer’s block?
By simply denying that it exists.
What keeps you up at night?
What’s your favorite show tune soundtrack?
What’s hanging on the walls of your living room?
Four collages that I got from a street artist in New York about 10 years ago, and five pairs of vintage sunglasses that we’ve collected.
What’s the last thing that made you laugh?
Hearing myself tell you that I wanted to be a fox.
What’s the first book that changed your life?
The Sound and the Fury. William Faulkner.
What’s your favorite Meryl Streep movie?
That’s not fair!
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Oh my god, I have so many. My real guilty pleasure is bad pop music, played very loud on a car radio.
What is your favorite thing about Los Angeles?
The variety of everything: people, architecture, landscapes, food, temperatures.