Best Local Boy or Girl Who Made Good

Susan Orlean

We have more than a little soft spot for Susan Orlean. One reason is because she started her writing career in the late '70s at an alternative weekly in Portland, Oregon, called Willamette Week, and ended up being a staff writer at The New Yorker. This is roughly the equivalent of going from being the star in your high-school play to being Julia Roberts. More important, however, is the fact that the Shaker Heights native writes really good stuff. Her book The Orchid Thief, which centers around an oddball who was once convicted of attempting to steal endangered orchids from a Florida swamp, was a surprise best-seller last year. Even better is this year's The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup, a collection of Orlean's magazine pieces. More fame and adulation should be coming her way soon: Spike Jonze, the director responsible for Being John Malkovich, is making The Orchid Thief into a movie.