Susan Orlean

After four years of them, we are sick to death of Donald Trump’s Tweetstorms. They are often incomprehensible and/or nonsensical screeds that don’t move much of anything ahead. And then there is Susan Orlean, whose somehow charming (at least a little bit!) Friday night tweetstorm caught the Twitterverse by surprise.

In the world of letters, Orlean — author of The Orchid Thief, The Library Book and others — is a big deal. If you have ever been disinclined to believe her stature, just stop now. Last Friday night, after a day when too much had gone down the tubes, Twitter sort of stopped when Orlean got drunk at a neighborhood get together, then tweeted about it. A lot. From Vogue:

On a day when Florida and California were setting new records for coronavirus infections, when Ruth Bader Ginsberg announced her cancer had returned and John Lewis died, almost all of Twitter seemed to come together for a couple of hours on Friday night to find solace in an unusual source: the rambling, hilarious tweets of a drunken Susan Orlean.

Orlean began her Friday night tweetstorm with an apology.

“Thank you for your support duri t this difficult time all misspellings are mine totally,” she tweeted, just before a single word tweet: “Drunk”.

And we’re off.

Over the course of the next few hours, Orlean tweeted about the birth of a neighbor’s colt (“Ok a newborn colt rocks it totally and he thought my hand was his mom. It was not. He has tasted life’s infinite tragedy. As I mentioned Earlier I am inebriated”) the whereabouts of her missing cat (“I’m falling down drunk. First time in ages. Where is my kitty? He is my drunk comfort animal.”) and the state of her WIP (“You know I am currently trying to write a memoir and feel like a clown because WHO CARES ABOUR MY STUPID LIFE but maybe?) And though replies from fans and watchers ranged from critical to concerned, the largest number seemed to enjoy sharing in Orlean’s public drunken Twitter moment. “This whole night of tweets is solid comedy,” wrote @JennaOPhoto. “I am in awe. I needed this. The world needed this. I doff my cap to you. (And whoever moved the stool softener in your house next to the Tylenol needs to cut it out. The internet says so.)”

The actor Craig Cackowski, known in part for his role in Drunk History, does a charming deadpan reading of Orleans’ tweetstorm that manages to be both funny and profane all at once.

And note to upcoming authors: getting drunk and tweeting about it is probably not the best plan for book promotion, it could only possibly work if it wasn’t a plan at all. I suspect, though, that Orleans’ most recent book, 2018’s The Library Book, will have gotten a bump through all the attention. ◊

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