We Have a Winner: Someone Watched 74 Minutes of Susan Orlean and Kurt Andersen

The winning entry in our little contest to find someone who'd watched the full 74 minutes of Susan Orlean and Kurt Andersen chatting about a life of letters in the digital age arrived at 3am. Let's meet the winner.

Yesterday, Bloggingheads posted a 74-minute web chat of the two authors outfitted like Youtube vloggers discussing Twitter and e-readers and how it's affected their writing and careers. We didn't have the time to watch the whole thing and wondered if anyone does. So we posted four quotes picked at random and offered a New Yorker Desk Diary for anyone who could give us the correct timestamps for when they were said. The winning answers are:

  • A: Orlean (67:07) "I end up chewing it off in little bits."
  • B: Orelan (34:13) "I think I never looked back when I started working on a computer."
  • C: Andersen (07:53) "We were grandfathered in in a way."
  • D: Andersen (49:10) "As a writer, I don't know how you feel, though I suspect I do."

And the person who watched the whole thing is Keith Malloy, 36, resident of the second smallest town in Connecticut. He usually listens to Andersen's radio show Studio 360 when he commutes home from his job as an assistant manager of a hotel on Yale's campus, making him a master, as he says, of "the art of not allowing Kurt Andersen put me to sleep." He also suffers from "a pathological obsession with entering contests online."

The main thing we were wondering when we launched the contest was whether anyone has the attention span anymore to sit still and watch over an hour of this kind of literary elite dinner party conversation. We intentionally picked the New Yorker Desk Diary (currently on sale for $22.95) thinking it wasn't a prize that would make someone watch the interview — how hard could it be to simply pay someone to do that? — but would elicit a response from someone who already planned to give it a view. So we asked Malloy about why he entered.

Other than being a loyal Studio 360 listener, do you count yourself as a fan of Orlean and Andersen?

I loved Spy magazine, and enjoyed The Orchid Thief well enough. I wouldn't take a night off of work to go to a book signing by either of them though.

Is this the first time you watched one of these Bloggingheads discussions?

I've gone to some of the New Yorker text based online chats, but this is the first video discussion of its sort I have watched.

Do you think you would have watched Orlean and Andersen if it weren't for our little contest?

I probably wouldn't have heard about it. It's exactly the kind of NPR voice piece I might put on if I was looking for something to fall asleep to, though.

What did you think of their discussion? Learn anything? Would you recommend it to a friend?

I was surprised at how quickly it went by honestly. I thought it would drag a lot more and was pleasantly surprised. I do enjoy hearing about the writer's process. They talked about lowly people with real jobs that write in the hopes of doing something better with their lives, which kind of spoke to me. If I wasn't an unmotivated lummox (except when contests come around, apparently) that could definitely be me, with the wacky hotel anecdotes I have been party to over the years. I would probably be more likely to quote the piece or send someone to one of the thematic links on the page then the whole thing.

And lastly, should I feel bad for keeping you up until 3am?

Nah, I'm a night owl. You should feel bad for sending me interview questions before I woke up and watched The View.

Thanks for staying up late for us, Keith. And congratulations on winning the prize. Your New Yorker Desk Diary is on its way.