Review GPA: RIN TIN TIN: THE LIFE, THE LEGEND by Susan Orlean

In Review GPA, we translate reviews of notable new books into letter grades and determine a grade point average. Check out previous report cards of ZONE ONE and THE MARRIAGE PLOT.

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From The New Republic review by David Thomson

Gold Star:

“This dog’s eye history of Hollywood in the 1920s is exuberant and told with as much energy as love.”

Demerit:

“But at the end, in a chapter called ‘The Leap,’ she goes a little far, I think. She feels compelled to see her story as an example of love, heroes, bonding, and all good things.”

Grade: A-

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From The New York Times review by Jennifer Schuessler

Gold Star:

“Do dogs deserve biographies? In “Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend,” Susan Orlean answers that question resoundingly in the affirmative”

Demerit:

“Orlean wants to see the Rin Tin Tin obsessives she meets mainly as dreamers looking for some lost wholeness rather than hangers-on with a stake in a valuable piece of intellectual property.”

Grade: A-

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From the Kirkus review:

Gold Star…and Demerit:

“Although occasionally excessive in its claims for the ultimate significance of it all, a terrific dog’s tale that will make readers sit up and beg for more.”

Grade: A-

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From The Washington Post review by Jonathan Yardley

Gold Star:

“It’s a touching and revealing story, not merely on its own merits but because it parallels the changing place of dogs in American life, from outdoor workers to indoor pets.”

Demerit:

“She has, as I noted two decades ago while reviewing her book about Saturday nights in America, a talent for choosing interesting subjects but then making them far less interesting by using ‘the first-person singular to grating excess.’ Over the years this tendency has, if anything, gotten worse.”

Grade: C+

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From the Barnes and Noble review by Melissa H. Pierson

Gold Star:

“Neither heavy nor scholarly but trustworthy and true, she makes us want to follow wherever she leads.”

Demerit:

“Susan Orlean can be forgiven for repeating her central thesis a few times too many”

Grade: A

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Review GPA: 3.48 (B+/A-)

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