Books: The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup

By Susan Orlean

The profiles in this collection range from skater Tonya Harding and designer Bill Blass to Spain's pre-eminent female matador and New York City's pre-eminent vendor of ceiling fans. The metaphors in these wryly detached yet not dispassionate observations rarely miss. (Blass is described as someone who "no matter where he is, he looks as if he might be standing on the deck of a big sailboat.") But just as evocative as Orlean's sketches of people are her renderings of place. The portrait of Harding's hometown in Clackamas County, Ore., reveals as much about the skater as her words and deeds do...

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