Friday, April 27, 2007

Book Review: "Orchid Fever"

Eric Hansen's Orchid Fever: A Horticultural Tale of Love, Lust, and Lunacy is comprised mainly of a series of profiles of some real orchid oddities - book people may be weird, but these guys would give us a run for our money for sure.

Like Susan Orlean's The Orchid Thief, Hansen's book takes us deep into orchid culture, offering glimpses of well-known orchid growers, competition judges, perfumers, smugglers, scientists, and conservationists (in fact, more than a few of his subjects fall into two or even three or four of those categories at once, which makes them all the more interesting). Over the course of the book, Hansen's own fascination with orchids grows, as does his impatience with what he sees as overly-bureaucratic rules governing orchid export, propagation and trade.

A good read, with some fascinating anecdotes and episodes. Hansen's prose lacks the surreal qualities of Orlean's, but his subjects are almost as mind-bogglingly offbeat.

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