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The Orchid Thief

The Orchid Thief
Author Susan Orlean
Genre Non-fiction
Publication date
Pages pp. 284

The Orchid Thief is a 1998 non-fiction book by American journalist and author Susan Orlean, based on her investigation of the 1994 arrest of John Laroche and a group of Seminoles in south Florida for poaching rare orchids in the Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve.

The book is based on an article that Orlean wrote for The New Yorker, published in the January 23, 1995 issue. Plant dealer Laroche was determined to find and clone the rare Ghost Orchid for profit. Along the way, Orlean met people in the plant business. In their and Laroche's struggles and oddities, she glimpsed true passion for the first time in her life.

The book was later adapted by Charlie Kaufman for Spike Jonze's film Adaptation (2002), with Nicolas Cage as Charlie and Donald Kaufman, Tilda Swinton as Valerie Thomas, Meryl Streep as Orlean and Chris Cooper as Laroche. The film is a satire on the process of adaptation, in which Orlean's book is turned into a formulaic Hollywood thriller.

Orlean's reaction, as cited on a interview: "Were you surprised when you read the screenplay? It was a complete shock. My first reaction was 'Absolutely not!' They had to get my permission and I just said: 'No! Are you kidding? This is going to ruin my career!' Very wisely, they didn't really pressure me. They told me that everybody else had agreed and I somehow got emboldened. It was certainly scary to see the movie for the first time. It took a while for me to get over the idea that I had been insane to agree to it, but I love the movie now. What I admire the most is that it's very true to the book's themes of life and obsession, and there are also insights into things which are much more subtle in the book about longing, and about disappointment."[1]


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