Monday, February 25, 2013
The Orchid Thief Online Readalong: Week 2
She captures, I think, the transition most of us go through between the time when we first get a look at the Everglades ecosystem and find it daunting -- it's not exactly Yosemite -- and when we start to appreciate its strange beauty. And Orlean makes the connection between that landscape and her real subject -- obsession -- on page 109: "the sheer bigness of the world made me feel lonely to the bone. The world is so huge that people are always getting lost in it. There are too many ideas and things and people, too many directions to go. I was starting to believe that the reason it matters to care passionately about something is that it whittles the world down to a more manageable size. It makes the world seem not huge and empty but full of possibility."
The other major theme of this section was its focus on other orchid-obsessed people besides Laroche -- Mote and Fuchs and Smith. I imagine the purpose of that was to show that Laroche was not alone in his willingness to go to extremes in pursuit of orchid glory. I couldn't quite decide, however, whether this demonstrated that orchids make people a little nutty -- or just attract nutty people.