cover image Saturday Night

Saturday Night

Susan Orlean. Alfred A. Knopf, $19.95 (258pp) ISBN 978-0-394-57336-6

Tight, clean prose and thoughtful observations make this series of essays about the Saturday night experience hum with all the vitality and activity of its subject. Freelance writer Orlean demonstrates a fine eye for detail as she describes an array of Saturday night activities: partying, watching television, geriatric polka dancing, working in a missile silo or simply cruising the streets. She explores the mystique that has grown up around Saturday night, the one night that allows significant variety and opportunity for socialization. Also examined is the seemingly random violence that occurs more often on Saturday night than at any other time. But whether discussing the social etymology of the phrase ``Saturday Night Special'' or the tribulations of arriving after 9 p.m. at the video store, which earlier ``would probably still have some color movies available,'' the book reveals much about ourselves. First serial to the New Yorker, Spy, New England Monthly, Washington Post, Boston Globe and the New York Times. (May)