This Is Running for Your Life Essays

Michelle Orange

FSG Originals



Trade Paperback

352 Pages



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In This Is Running for Your Life, Michelle Orange takes us from Beirut to Hawaii to her grandmother’s retirement home in Canada in her quest to understand how people behave in a world increasingly mediated—for better and for worse—by images and interactivity. Orange’s essays range from the critical to the journalistic to the deeply personal; she seamlessly combines stories from her own life with incisive analysis as she explores everything from the intimacies we develop with celebrities and movie characters to the troubled creation of the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
     With the insight of a young Joan Didion and the empathy of a John Jeremiah Sullivan, Orange dives into popular culture and the status quo and emerges with a persuasive and provocative book about how we live now. Her singular voice will resonate for years to come. Table of Contents The Uses of Nostalgia and Some Thoughts on Ethan Hawke's Face The Dream (Girl) Is Over Have a Beautiful Corpse One Senior, Please Beirut Rising War and Well-Being, 21 19'N., 157 52'W. Pixelation Nation: Photography, Memory, and the Public Image Do I Know You? And Other Impossible Questions The San Diego of My Mind Ways of Escape


Praise for This Is Running for Your Life

“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.”—Philip Lopate

“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 

“[Michelle Orange] writes generously and thoughtfully about the way mass culture molds the human heart . . . bighearted, unsentimental, and very smart.”—Eugenia Williamson, Bookforum  

“A brilliant collection of essays on modern life, and ways that technology and connectivity are changing how we interact with the world . . . The title of a new collection of essays from critic Michelle Orange, This Is Running For Your Life, is so striking in part because it is such an unspoken but recognizable feeling about the way we currently spend our time on earthAs 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 

“The great fun of Michelle Orange’s This Is Running for Your Life is in watching an essayist build associations between seemingly unconnected topics—James Dean and Michael Jackson, air travel and old age, Hawaii and DSM-5—with all the ease and agility of a master craftsman . . . 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 . . . In Orange’s writing, the individual gives way to the art (and vice versa), each illuminating the other . . . An abiding intelligence guides readers through the pages, and it’s gratifying to encounter a writer with such a strong ability to balance the personal and the critical . . . It’s a good book for readers who like to think as they read, and an excellent corrective for those of us who may have fallen out of the habit.”—S. J. Culver, The Star-Tribune (Minneapolis) 

"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 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

“In this whip-smart, achingly funny collection, film critic Orange (The Sicily Papers) 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.”—Publishers Weekly

In the Press

'This Is Running for Your Life' review: Our instantaneous world: So connected that we're disconnected |
In her debut essay collection, "This Is Running for Your Life," Michelle Orange models an ideal balance of firsthand engagement with -- and grounded criticism of -- the lightheaded culture all around us.
[Six Questions] | This Is Running for Your Life, by Michelle Orange | Harper's Magazine
Michelle Orange on the art of the personal essay, navigating cultural overload, and the distance that separates two human heads
Q&A: Michelle Orange on Running For Your Life - New York - News - Runnin' Scared
Reading Michelle Orange is like having a moving, one-sided conversation with your best friend if your best friend was...
TNB Nonfiction | Michelle Orange: The TNB Self-Interview | The Nervous Breakdown
Michelle Orange interviews herself.
This Week's Hot Reads: February 11, 2013 - The Daily Beast
This week, stories of moving on, whether in the face of disaster, trauma, or soul-testing technology.
Book review: 'This is Running for Your Life,' by Michelle Orange |

The great fun of Michelle Orange's "This Is Running for Your Life" is in watching an essayist build associations between seemingly unconnected topics
Michelle Orange’s essay collection This Is Running for Your Life, reviewed. - Slate Magazine
A great cultural critic is a bit like a philosopher king. By reading him, we (the literate) give him dominion willingly, even gladly, over our thoughts. We read him because we want a leader, because the world is too big, the thoughts too many. He is superior in wisdom, but...
The Rumpus Long Interview With Michelle Orange - The
'This Is Running for Your Life' - SFGate
Canadian-born journalist and film critic, Orange takes readers along on her engaging travels, whether intellectual or actual (such as trips to Beirut and Hawaii), but the story is never just about her. In the opening piece, "The Uses of Nostalgia and Some Thoughts on Ethan Hawke's Face," the author examines our relationship to time in this smartphone and social-media-infested era, and our cultural obsession with nostalgia. Watching his films "Before Sunrise" and its sequel "Befor

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

The Uses of Nostalgia and Some Thoughts on Ethan Hawke’s Face

Let’s call it the theory of receptivity. It’s the idea, often cited by young people in their case against the relevance of even marginally older people, that one’s taste—in music or film, literature or fine cuisine—petrifies during life’s peak of happiness or nadir of misery. Or maybe it’s not that simple. Maybe a subtler spike on the charts—upward, downward, anomalous points in between—might qualify, so long as it’s formative. Let’s say that receptivity,
Read the full excerpt



  • The Dinner Party Download

    Do I Know You? - Essayist Michelle Orange's Sly Study of Comparisons



  • Michelle Orange

  • Michelle Orange is the author of The Sicily Papers and the editor of From the Notebook: The Unwritten Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Her fiction, essays, criticism, and journalism have appeared in The New York Times, The Nation, The Virginia Quarterly Review, The Village Voice, The Globe and Mail,, and McSweeney’s, among other publications. She is a founding contributing editor of The Rumpus.

  • Michelle Orange © Trevor Ross
    Michelle Orange