Westside Center for Independent Living Associates Host Annual Literary Tea


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.

Prior to joining The New Yorker, Orlean was a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and also at Vogue, where she wrote on numerous figures in both the music and fashion industries. She has also contributed to Esquire, Smithsonian, New York Times Magazine, and numerous other publications.

Orlean has written several books, including, My Kind of Place: Travel Stories from a Woman Who's Been Everywhere, The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup: My Encounters with Ordinary People, Red Sox and Blue Fish, Saturday Night, Lazy Little Loafers and The Orchid Thief, a narrative about orchid poachers in Florida.

Orlean teaches creative writing at New York University and has been a writer-in-residence at several universities. She received her B.A. degree with honors from the University of Michigan and was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. She lives in upstate New York and Los Angeles with her husband and son.

About The Associates of The Westside Center for Independent Living:
Founded 1981 by Helen Levin, Betty Deutsch and Louise Escoe, the Associates of the Westside Center for Independent Living are a group of active community members who are dedicated to the cause of independent living for seniors and people with disabilities. In support of this mission, the Associates use their skills to educate and develop community advocates, support WCIL programs through membership development, provide volunteer services, and present fundraising events.

The WCIL Associates Steering Committee consists of: Betty Deutsch, Tea Party Hostess; Ruth Kraft, Steering Committee Chair; Suzie Levin Corben, Honorary Chair; and members Louise Escoe, Marjorie Fasman, LaVetta Forbes, Barbara Gordon, Lola Jameson, Trudy Kallis, Jean Katz, Ruth March, Marcia Solomon, Dorothy Straus, Dascha Auerbach Stuart, Ruth Tober and Phyllis Wiseman.

Westside Center For Independent Living was established in 1976 with the mission of providing seniors and people with disabilities the tools to achieve the goals of independent living self-assurance, community acceptance, unlimited access, and the right to self-determination.

Programs and services include individual and systems advocacy, assistive technology, employment services, independent living skills, information and referral, peer counseling, peer support and employment training, personal assistants, home accessibility, and Transition Services from hospital, skilled nursing facility or institutional facility and the Empowerment Alliance.

More than 70% of WCIL's staff is made up of people with disabilities. Each staff member has a unique commitment to assist others with disabilities, and their understanding, guidance and support gives those we serve the confidence to reach out toward their own independence.

WCIL has three Westside service sites, Mar Vista, Santa Monica, and Redondo Beach, providing programs and services. The geographic service area runs from Malibu to San Pedro, to West Hollywood, and included the Westside of Los Angeles along with Carson.

To learn more about the Westside Center for Independent Living, please visit the website www.wcil.org. A disability need not be disabling.

Related Articles

Los Angeles THEATER Stories | Shows  Like BWW LA  Follow BWW LA

From This Author BWW News Desk

Before you go...