Susan Orlean was welcomed with applause as the Fullerton Public Library hosted their Distinguished Speaker Series on Sunday Feb 2.
The newly built eastern-wing other known as the Conference Room, was filled with a crowd of a little over 50 people.
Fullerton residents and fans of Orlean listened intently following along with nods of approval and the occasional bursts of laughter as she read excerpts from some of her stories.
The short stories included a few articles written for the New Yorker: “Shooting Party” is a story on her experiences at a friend’s wedding in Scotland, “Super-Duper,” a story on the Super Bowl and “Rin Tin Tin,” a biography on America’s most notable animal celebrity.
Orlean is an American journalist and a best selling author. She is known for her books “Rin Tin Tin,” “Saturday Night,” “The Orchid Thief,” which was adapted into the award winning film “Adaptation,” by Spike Jonze. Along with writing stories, Orlean has published articles as a staff writer in the New Yorker.
“I wanted to write when I was really young,” mentions Orlean, as she discusses what intrigued her in writing. “I would write little journals about my family’s travels and I thought it was magic.”
Orlean has a new writing project involving the Los Angeles Central Public Library after receiving a tour. Her intrigue was sparked when she discovered that the library was set on fire in 1986; some of the books still held scents from the smoke. The fire destroyed 20 percent of the library’s holdings, which forced a remodel.
“With almost every subject I dive into, I don’t really know about it or I superficially know about it,” Orlean said. “Once I am in it, I realize I don’t know as much as I thought.”
Fullerton resident David Meyer looked forward to meeting Orlean. Meyer is a biology teacher who describes himself as having a myopic view of the world and found Orlean’s expanded view of universalism and approach to the matter very interesting.
“I have a passing interest in orchids and thought it would be interesting to meet the author,” Meyer said. “It is amazing how much background and interests she has, being able to write on multiple topics and not just focused on one area.”
The Distinguished Speaker Series has featured authors like Dean Koontz. The DSS was created to express how valued the community is to the library, according to Maureen Gabelein, Library Director.
Gabelein describes the average crowds being around 75 people, but it depends on authors like Koontz who had over 150 attendees.
“We would love to have 250 people here [at the event] bursting at the seams, but that is not the case,” Gabelein said. “But for Super Bowl Sunday, it’s a good crowd.”
In a modern world where everything is now digital, it’s easy to gain the notion that the library has no real use. However, Orlean and Gabelein would argue that the attendance and use of libraries have increased now more than ever and that they are great for community gatherings.
The Fullerton Public Library is located at 353 W. Commonwealth Ave. Fullerton, Calif.
For more information on DSS, refer to the library website: www.fullertonlibrary.org