Pure Flame

On Vivian Gor­nick   May, 2015

On Kim Gor­don and Kurt Cobain   Feb­ru­ary, 2015

4 Columns

Smooth Talk  (Oct, 2020)

Cabaret  (Sep, 2020)

Nor­mal Peo­ple  (April, 2020)

Lit­tle Women    (Jan, 2020)

Glo­ria Bell  (March, 2019)

Tully  (May, 2018)

I Love You, Daddy  (Nov, 2017)


Cap­i­tal New York

56 Up    (Jan­u­ary, 2013)

Django Unchained    (Decem­ber, 2012)

Zero Dark Thirty  (Decem­ber, 2012)

Diana Vree­land: The Eye Has to Travel   (Sep­tem­ber, 2012)

Cos­mopo­lis    (August, 2012)

Take This Waltz  (June, 2012)



The Dark Knight Rises   (July, 2012)

Beasts of the South­ern Wild   (June, 2012)

Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present   (May, 2012)

Project X   (March, 2012)

Act of Valor   (Feb, 2012)

The Future   (July, 2011)

Inside Job   (Oct, 2010)

A Film Unfin­ished   (Aug, 2010)

I Am Love   (June, 2010)

Splice   (May, 2010)

Green­berg   (March, 2010)

A Prophet   (Feb, 2010)

The Ghost Writer   (Feb, 2010)

The White Rib­bon   (Dec, 2009)

Avatar   (Dec, 2009)

Bright Star   (Sep, 2009)


The Reeler

Be Kind Rewind  (Feb 2008)

The Band’s Visit (Feb 2008)

Knocked Up  (June 2007)

Away From Her  (May 2007)

Exter­mi­nat­ing Angels (March 2007)

The Lives of Oth­ers  (Feb 2007)

The Painted Veil  (Dec 2006)

The Secret Life of Words  (Dec 2006)

Volver  (Oct 2006)


IFC Inter­views

Inter­view with Natasha Lyonne (July, 2010)

Inter­view with Debra Granik (June, 2010)

Inter­view with Math­ieu Amal­ric (Novem­ber, 2007)

Inter­view with Flo­rian Henckel von Don­ners­marck (Jan­u­ary, 2007)



Ruben Östlund and Force Majeure,  Jan/Feb 2015

The Essen­tial Jacques Demy, Sept/Oct 2014

Eula Biss’s On Immu­nity: An Inoc­u­la­tion, Octo­ber 2014

On Black Mir­ror,  Decem­ber 2014

On (Not) Vis­it­ing the 9/11 Memo­r­ial,  Sep­tem­ber 2014

Rachel Monroe’s Sav­age Appetites, Dec/Jan 2019

Lisa Taddeo’s Three WomenSum­mer 2019

Mar­i­lynne Robinson’s Lila, Fall 2014

Nor­man Rush’s Sub­tle Bod­ies, Fall 2013

Vis­it­ing Gra­ham Greene’s Lon­don, Sum­mer 2013

Revis­it­ing Wak­ing Life,   August 2013

The Com­mit­ments: On Before Mid­night,   August 2013

“The Long Hello,” review of Bar­bara Stan­wyck biog­ra­phy,   Novem­ber 2013

This Is the End and Cana­dian sell-out anx­i­ety ,  June 2013

what pur­pose did i serve in your life, by Marie Cal­loway,   June 2013


“Indeed I did not think of myself as a woman first of all.… I wanted to be pure flame.” 

                                                                                                                  —Susan Son­tag, The Vol­cano Lover




A sear­ing work of cul­tural mem­oir, Pure Flame explores ill­ness, mor­tal­ity, and ques­tions of mater­nal legacy, in pur­suit of what Adri­enne Rich called our “great untold story”: that of the mother-daughter bond. Through the inter­con­nected lives of three women—Orange’s grand­mother, her mother, and her­self, born at the begin­ning, the mid­dle, and toward the end of the twen­ti­eth cen­tury, respec­tively—Pure Flame traces the impact and influ­ence on that bond of a century’s var­i­ous seis­mic shifts. What has been gained, lost, and what remains only dimly under­stood. A ques­tion posed dur­ing a 1971 gath­er­ing of some of the era’s most pow­er­ful female writ­ers, thinkers, and activists–including Susan Son­tag, Ger­maine Greer, and Eliz­a­beth Hardwick–offers a touch­stone for the book’s blend of social, cul­tural, and per­sonal inquiry: If a woman is not to model her­self after her mother, by whose exam­ple should she live?  
Pure Flame grap­ples with this ques­tion among many, reck­on­ing in par­tic­u­lar with the trans­for­ma­tion of Orange’s mother from part-time teacher to MBA to CEO–a per­son­ally reward­ing but gru­el­ing jour­ney that took her away from her fam­ily and had last­ing effects on her health. Writ­ten with warmth and rigor, Orange’s account of their rela­tion­ship becomes pres­sur­ized in crit­i­cal and unex­pected ways, result­ing in an urgent, rev­e­la­tory med­i­ta­tion on becom­ing, self­hood, free­dom, attach­ment, sto­ry­telling, and what it means to be a mother’s daugh­ter now. 


Avail­able for pre–order in the U.S. and Canada.




This Is Running For Your Life


Praise for This Is Run­ning for Your Life

New Yorker Best Book of 2013

National Post Best Book of 2013

Fla­vor­wire Best Non­fic­tion Book of 2013

Large­hearted Boy Best Non­fic­tion Book of 2013

Publisher’s Weekly Top 10 Pick, Spring 2013


With its stew of high and low cul­tural ref­er­ences and extremely con­fi­dent voice, Orange’s essay col­lec­tion This is Run­ning for your Life dis­plays a crack­ling brain choos­ing to turn its atten­tion to an array of top­ics and ideas.”   Meg Wolitzer, NPR.org


Orange offers glimpses of the emo­tional root struc­ture of her own asso­cia­tive ten­den­cies, demon­strat­ing how exca­vat­ing analo­gies every­where is a form of gen­eros­ity but also a symp­tom of hunger: for sense, for con­nec­tion, for accumulation…At the cen­ter of her book is a stub­born fas­ci­na­tion with how imper­fectly we know one another and our own col­lec­tive past. But there is a deep ten­der­ness in how she picks apart our imperfection—a beat­ing heart deliv­er­ing oxy­gen to her acro­batic intellect—and it’s this qual­ity of intel­li­gent ten­der­ness that con­nects her voice most pal­pa­bly to [that of Rebecca Sol­nit].” Leslie Jami­son, The New Republic


Michelle Orange has made a name for her­self as a social and aes­thetic observer who eschews bro­mides and empty sen­ti­ment. Droll, hon­est, and inci­sive, her writ­ing glides effort­lessly between artis­tic crit­i­cism and per­sonal anec­dote.” Harper’s


A well-assembled essay book can be as charis­matic as a new rock album, espe­cially if it intro­duces you to a youngish author whose work you’d pre­vi­ously missed. This was the case, for me, with Michelle Orange’s first col­lec­tion: an assem­bly of ten styl­ish, rangy, slightly weird essays that cover top­ics from the city of Beirut to dig­i­tal pho­tog­ra­phy. Orange’s style is at once nar­rowly per­sonal and intel­lec­tu­ally ambi­tious, and offered more sur­prises than I’d expected.” Nathan Heller, The New Yorker


If Joan Did­ion and David Fos­ter Wal­lace had a love child…Michelle Orange would be it. Back­ing up her opin­ions with research, enrich­ing her research with bold, clever, tricked-out sen­tences, and writ­ten with seri­ous range and aplomb, her essays — com­plex, crit­i­cal, inti­mate — are tools against stu­pid­ity, apa­thy, and zomb­i­fi­ca­tion.” Elissa Bassist, Los Ange­les Review of Books


While [Orange] deserves com­par­isons to DFW and John Jere­miah Sul­li­van, she has her own dis­tinct voice. Orange’s prose is ani­mated by her innate curios­ity and her con­vinc­ing med­i­ta­tions on cul­ture and her own life.” Michele Fil­gate, The Paris Review


A brave, new, and some­times thrillingly dif­fi­cult col­lec­tion of essays…[This Is Run­ning for Your Life] jolted me side­ways with ideas that were both imme­di­ately acces­si­ble and weirdly deep…[It’s] it’s a joy to come across some­one who has so much to say and who says it with such force and orig­i­nal­ity. From per­sis­tence of vision to per­sis­tence of image, Orange embraces such a wide range of con­cerns that while read­ing This is Run­ning for Your Life I had the feel­ing I had when I was in uni­ver­sity: that there is more to the world than I thought, and that it was worth the time to pause and con­sider it.” Michael Red­hill, The National Post


What a mar­velous — really, a mar­vel — jour­nal­ist and thinker Michelle Orange is. I am so engrossed in these cul­tur­ally astute essays about every­thing from Cana­dian retire­ment homes to Manic Pixie Dream Girls.”  Sloane Crosley, NPR.org


There’s a won­der­ful bal­ance between high and low art in this book, and a ter­rific streak of irrev­er­ence…  In [one] stand­out piece — “War and Well-Being, 21° 19’N., 157° 52’W.” — Orange recalls her time in Hon­olulu at the 2011 con­fer­ence of the Amer­i­can Psy­chi­atric Asso­ci­a­tion - a hilar­i­ous and fas­ci­nat­ing essay that approaches David Fos­ter Wal­lace at his best…Orange tack­les dis­parate ele­ments with ease, and her essay col­lec­tion is smart, funny and fiercely orig­i­nal.”   Carmela Ciu­raru, San Fran­cisco Chronicle


The book’s diverse sub­ject mat­ter is uni­fied by [Orange’s] keen crit­i­cal eye, acer­bic sense of humor, and a writ­ing style that crack­les with wit and insight. Each piece braids mul­ti­ple nar­ra­tive and the­matic threads to cre­ate almost an impres­sion­is­tic inter­pre­ta­tion of how we expe­ri­ence, nego­ti­ate and doc­u­ment the times in which we live.” Pasha Malla, The Believer


Deft and pleasing…[Michelle Orange] writes gen­er­ously and thought­fully about the way mass cul­ture molds the human heart … big­hearted, unsen­ti­men­tal, and very smart.” Book­fo­rum


“In the open­ing essay in this engross­ing col­lec­tion, a book that restores one’s hope for the future of intel­li­gent life on earth, Orange intro­duces ‘the the­ory of recep­tiv­ity,’ a phrase that neatly describes the source of her fath­om­ing inquiries. In this extended thought piece, writ­ten, as is every selec­tion, with an ensnar­ing mix of intense curios­ity, per­sonal dis­clo­sures, buoy­ant wit, and har­poon­ing pre­ci­sion, Orange con­sid­ers the ways tech­nol­ogy has altered time and asks why nos­tal­gia is ‘now such an inte­gral part of Amer­i­can culture.’

Film is critic, jour­nal­ist, and writer Orange’s great pas­sion, and her inquiry into per­mu­ta­tions of the cin­e­matic ‘dream girl,’ from Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe to today’s ‘approach­ably edgy, adorably fran­tic,’ but dam­aged pix­ies, unveils cru­cial aspects of our ‘col­lec­tive imag­i­na­tion.’ Inci­sive analy­sis of the impact of social media is matched by a poignant dis­patch on her nervy 2008 sojourn in Beirut and a star­tlingly pro­found report on what was actu­ally at stake at an Amer­i­can Psy­chi­atric Asso­ci­a­tion con­fer­ence. Orange’s recep­tiv­ity is acute, her mas­tery of lan­guage thrilling, and her inter­pre­ta­tions of the forces trans­form­ing our lives invig­o­rat­ing.”                   Donna Sea­man, Book­list


It is not an exag­ger­a­tion to say that Orange has per­fected the art of the per­sonal essay, seam­lessly weav­ing her own his­tory with our col­lec­tive expe­ri­ence, and effort­lessly ref­er­enc­ing dra­mas both small and large to back up her points. In these 10 diverse pieces, she ele­gantly com­bines his­tor­i­cal, pop-cultural, and per­sonal ele­ments, tak­ing read­ers on well-researched, acces­si­ble jour­neys through feel­ings and facts.”                             Stacey May Fowles, Quill and Quire (starred review)


As Orange bril­liantly breaks down the state of mod­ern life and how it stands in rela­tion to tech­nol­ogy and the com­modi­tized image, she tells us much of what we already have intu­ited, but might have been afraid to admit to our­selves. […] This book is not only a com­pre­hen­sive cul­tural por­trait of our rela­tion­ship with tech­nol­ogy but also time itself, in the chang­ing ways that we medi­ate it and con­sume it.”                                                   Nicholas Man­cusi, The Daily Beast


Orange is pri­mar­ily a film writer, and it would be dif­fi­cult to name another cul­tural critic who brings such a high level of intel­lec­tual rigor to her sub­ject. Her essays are funny, but not friv­o­lous; sharp, but not brit­tle. “This Is Run­ning for Your Life” is thought­ful, heart­felt, witty and deeply impres­sive. […] Each piece con­tains mul­ti­tudes: snip­pets of mem­oir, para­graphs of exe­ge­sis, frag­ments of his­tory, melan­choly, joy.”                           SJ Cul­ver, The Min­neapo­lis Star-Tribune


“In this whip-smart, achingly funny col­lec­tion, film critic Orange trains her lens on aging, self-image, and the ascen­dancy of the mar­ket­ing demo­graphic, among other puz­zles of the Face­book gen­er­a­tion … [this is] a col­lec­tion whose voice feels at once fresh and inevitable.”  Publisher’s Weekly


The energy, vari­ety and intel­lec­tu­al­ity of these expan­sive non-fiction pieces recall the plea­sures of short sto­ries. Dis­parate sub­jects (a solo vaca­tion in Beirut, a visit to her grandmother’s retire­ment home, Melville Heights in Hal­i­fax) delight like restau­rant sam­pler plat­ters; the reader is served a curated mix of small delights, items one may not nor­mally select, per­haps out of fear of dis­ap­point­ment or a lack of adven­tur­ous­ness. This pu pu plat­ter approach informs the reader’s future choices, expand­ing the menu, as it were, to include bold new options…This is writ­ing for your life. You won’t read a bet­ter col­lec­tion of essays this year.”  Megan Power, Hal­i­fax Chron­i­cle Herald


Orange’s insights share their prob­ing, per­sua­sive rhythms with those of Susan Son­tag… [An] unfail­ingly X-ray-like inquiry into the pecu­liar­i­ties of our ultra-mediated world unites Orange’s 10 absorb­ing essays.”             M. Allen Cun­ning­ham,  Port­land Oregonian


Read­ing Michelle Orange is like hav­ing a mov­ing, one-sided con­ver­sa­tion with your best friend if your best friend was feel­ing par­tic­u­larly astute that day.” The Vil­lage Voice


Orange dis­sects pop cul­ture, fam­ily, and — if you’ll for­give our grand lan­guage — the state of human­ity with a deft, inci­sive hand, cement­ing her place among the ranks of our city’s most impor­tant cul­tural com­men­ta­tors.” Emily Tem­ple, Fla­vor­wire


This essay col­lec­tion cuts through cul­tural pre­con­cep­tions and offers insight into our chang­ing world with clar­ity, intel­li­gence, and a truly orig­i­nal voice.” Large­hearted Boy


Play­ful and eru­dite.” Time Out New York


“Michelle Orange’s mind and her work are splen­did, orig­i­nal, absolutely thrilling.”   –Kurt Ander­sen, author of True Believ­ers


“Michelle Orange is a crys­tal clear thinker—funny, lucid, warm and enthu­si­as­tic. And This Is Run­ning For Your Life is an impor­tant trea­sure trove of irre­sistible ideas, infor­ma­tion and mem­o­ries. I found it a delight.”  –Jami Atten­berg, author of The Mid­dlesteins


“Read­ing Michelle Orange is like get­ting swept up in a long, stim­u­lat­ing con­ver­sa­tion. Orange is fear­lessly brainy and forth­com­ing, and she unstitches cul­tural assump­tions with dex­ter­ity and wit. This Is Run­ning for Your Life is a col­lec­tion of argu­ment, obser­va­tion, and per­sonal rev­e­la­tion that left me thought­ful and enter­tained.” –Leanne Shap­ton, author of Swim­ming Studies


“Smart, sophis­ti­cated, and quirky, these essays show­case an orig­i­nal voice that uncan­nily cap­tures the brood­ings and shad­ings of a gen­er­a­tion.” –Phillip Lopate, author of Por­trait Inside My Head


“A sprawl­ing, max­i­mal­ist jour­ney into the exis­ten­tial and cul­tural dra­mas of late twentieth-/early twenty-first-century North Amer­i­can life. Michelle Orange gives us the con­tents of her very inter­est­ing mind along with a healthy dose of her very good soul.” –Meghan Daum, author of My Mis­spent Youth and Life Would Be Per­fect If I Lived In That House


“With pro­found clar­ity and sly, pointed humor, Michelle Orange peels back the skin of our mod­ern world. I love this damn book!” –Davy Roth­bart, author of My Heart Is an Idiot


“I haven’t read any­one who writes more inci­sively and provoca­tively about the way we live now than Michelle Orange. She’s a mas­ter essay­ist and our very best mod­ern critic.” Stephen Elliott, author of The Adder­all Diaries























































This Is Run­ning for Your Life

LA Review of Books inter­view with Elissa Bassist  (Sep, 2013)

Wag’s Revue inter­view with Abby Koski  (Sum­mer, 2013)

Other Peo­ple Pod­cast with Brad Listi  (April, 2013)

The Paris Review inter­view with Michele Fil­gate  (April, 2013)

The Mil­lions inter­view with Han­nah Gersen  (March, 2013)

Believer inter­view with Pasha Malla  (Feb, 2013)

Vil­lage Voice inter­view  (Feb, 2013)

Harper’s “Six Ques­tions” inter­view  (Feb, 2013)

Fla­vor­wire inter­view with Tobias Car­roll  (Feb, 2013)

Rum­pus inter­view with Stephen Elliott  (Feb, 2013)

Q & A with Publisher’s Weekly    (Dec, 2012)


Other Inter­views

Inter­view with the Vir­ginia Quar­terly Review   (Sum­mer, 2009)

Inter­viewed by The Dan­forth Review    (Feb, 2009)

Inter­viewed about The Sicily Papers for “The Liv­ing Writ­ers Show”   (Nov, 2006)

Zulkey.com inter­view  (Oct, 2006)





Habeas Whit­ney  (Feb, 2012)

Inter­view with Every Man in this Vil­lage is a Liar author Megan Stack    (Nov, 2010)

The The­ory of Relata­bil­ity and Rethink­ing Justin Long’s Face   (Oct, 2010)

Re-commencement: Notes on an Eng­lish Professor’s Retire­ment  (Sept, 2009)

“Do I Know You?” And Other Impos­si­ble Ques­tions  (June, 2009)

The The­ory of Recep­tiv­ity and Some Thoughts on Ethan Hawke’s Face   (May, 2009)

Fade to Orange: Famous on Famous/Film Links For­ever   (Feb, 2009)

Fade to Orange: “He Is So Totally That Into Me” Edi­tion  (Feb, 2009)

Fade to Orange: Inter­na­tional Film Link Inci­dent  (Jan, 2009)

Fade to Orange: Film Link Implo­sion  (Dec, 2008)



On Man­hat­tan, then and now (March, 2017)

Cam­er­ap­er­son fea­ture  (Sep, 2016)

Derek Jarman’s Will You Dance With Me?  (Aug, 2016)

On Spike Lee’s BAM ret­ro­spec­tive  (June, 2014)

Nympho­ma­niac Vol­ume II  (April, 2014)


Into Great Silence (March, 2007)

The Pris­oner Or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair (March, 2007)

The Golden Com­pass (Dec, 2007)

Chuck Close: A Por­trait in Progress  (Dec, 2007)

Inter­view with Christo­pher Hon­oré and Louis Gar­rel (March, 2008)

Inter­view with Etgar Keret (April, 2008)

Big­ger, Stronger, Faster (May, 2008)

The Tourist (Dec 2010)




Prince Song or Inspi­ra­tional Signage

Dialects of the Com­mon Bum­ble Bee

Cable News Shows In Geom­e­try Geek Heaven

Actual Vocab­u­lary at 13 Months…

Actual Answers to the Ques­tion ‘What Or Who is the Love of Your Life?’ That Were Not, To My Sur­prise, ‘You.’

All That I Remem­ber From A Shel­ley Win­ters Biog­ra­phy I Read At 15

A Year in Words that Sound Like Pasta Shapes When Pro­nounced As Such




The Needling and the Dam­age Not Done (March, 2001)

Alter­nate End­ings… (August, 2001)

Smart and Cute and Dad: The Last Orange Tapes (2002)

Smart and Cute and Bad: The Lost Orange Tapes (2002)

Every Sha La La La, Every Oh No (Jan­u­ary, 2003)

Of A Piece: An inter­view with John Orange (Jan­u­ary, 2002)


This Is Run­ning for Your Life: Essays (FSG): Ama­zon, Bookshop.org, Powell’s Books, or your local indie bookstore.

Pure Flame (FSG)



Best Cana­dian Essays 2020

Basta Cosi, Parts One to Twelve.


Con­trib­u­tor page, 2006-present





“Polit­i­cal The­aters,” on satire and the new polit­i­cal tele­vi­sion,  Feb­ru­ary 2014

Gra­ham Greene: A Life in Let­ters,  April 2009


The Real Real: On the His­tory of Amer­i­can Doc­u­men­tary,   Fall 2020

On Tiger King,  Sum­mer 2020

Cou­ples Ther­apy and the Guru as Pro­tag­o­nist,   Win­ter 2019

On Free­dom, Democ­racy, and Big Tech,   Sum­mer 2019

Death and Declut­ter­ing,  Spring 2019

The Tale and Cru­elty with a Point,  Fall 2018

Ways of See­ing and Being on YouTube,   Sum­mer 2017

The Career Woman in Elle and Toni Erd­mann,   Spring 2017

On Weiner and Author: The JT Leroy Story,   Fall 2016

Chan­tal Aker­man and No Home Movie,   Spring 2016

Lau­rie Anderson’s Heart of a Dog,  Win­ter 2016

Beirut Ris­ing,”  Sum­mer 2009


On Shame and Won­der: Essays    Jan­u­ary 2016

Essays Short­list,   May 2015

Patri­cia Clark­son pro­file,  August 2010

“Sunny Spies Under Those Sunny Skies” Covert Affairs fea­ture,  July 2010

“Tak­ing Back the Knife: Girls Gone Gory in Jennifer’s Body,  Sep­tem­ber 2009

Lynn Shel­ton pro­file,  July 2009

“Ses­sions and the Sin­gle Man”  In Treat­ment fea­ture,   April 2009