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The John McPhee Reader

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Tell but McPhee s writings may well end in this class A century hence if would like to understand the peculiar creativity that made twentieth century America the great country it is he might well find the clearest answer in McPhee s true great country it is he might well find the clearest answer in McPhee s true life explorations I read what I wanted to out of this it s nice that the book covers a wide range of topics I like his sportswriting the most it really digs into the thought processes behind the most minute decisions of a game John McPhee is a renaissance man Basketball tennis oranges hydrogen bombs bark canoes dams wingless flying vehicle medieval relics and the people playing growing inventing flying building studying and opposing them are his subject matter He WRITES WITH DEPTH FLAIR AND HUMOR with depth flair and humor the reader comes away with amazing understanding of his subjects This is a collection of excerpts from McPhee s first 12 books edited and introduced by William Howarth The collection was published in 1976 Bill Bradley went on to be US Senator and I suspect the orange industry in Florida has changed So far we haven t tried space flight powered by hydrogen bombs The story of McPhee visiting the World Trade Center in the early 70 s with a physicist who explains how the building could be brought down by a small easily assembled nuclear bomb was horrifyingly eerie I had to trudge through some of these and others were amazing A marvelous introduction to the depth and breadth of John McPhee a ournalist s The Apache Wars: The Hunt for Geronimo, the Apache Kid, and the Captive Boy Who Started theLongest War in American History journalist one of the finest living nonfiction writers It is perhaps preferable to read these books in full rather than the snippets that are presented here but this is a great way to encounter McPhee for the first time in this well edited sampler of his greatest hits I was familiar with a good number of these selections but the book piued my interest in several books of his that I haven t read yet particularly The Pine Barrens and A Roomful of Hovings and Other Profiles Enthusiastically recommended especially to would be essayists and those with boundless curiosity about the known world I realize that giving five stars to a reader is sort of like saying that some band s greatest hits album is your favorite CD That said I think that John McPhee is one of the two best American reporters along with Studs Terkel and that this collection does a greatob of providing an introduction to his work You know how every New Yorker article you ve ever read takes some seemingly mundane item or place and then writes the hell out of it It starts out interesting but by page 12 you remember you re not actually interested in whatever the topic isWell it turns out that every single one of them is ust copying John McPhee who is so much better at the genre than anyone else It s unreal These were ust excerpts and I now want to read half the books they re from He has a perfect eye for scenery and ear for dialogue so each vignette captures exactly what he wants it to in a couple of paragraphs Wow. Sissman ranked with Liebling and Mencken who Geoffrey Wolff said is bringing his work to levels that have no measurable limit who has been called a master craftsman so many times that it is pointless to number them. ,

E takes delight in exploring unconventional aspects of our society presented through colorful individuals and described in crisp and scintillating language This book is our society presented through colorful individuals and described in crisp and scintillating language This book is sampler containing excerpts from a dozen books an admirable introduction for anyone new to McPhee s style Collections like this are often disjointed and fragmentary but not here each section stands on its own each is a minor masterpiece each tells a story and the editor s introductory analysis of McPhee s style is masterful in its own way First published in 1976 it is still in print like other books by McPhee He wrote many after that about Alaska about the geology of the western US three books a bit heavy with geology argon about an ocean trip with the US merchant marine also stories about bears in New Jersey about attempts to contain the mighty Mississippi and lava flows on Iceland and so forth up to his recent Ransom of Russian Art his twenty third As the above list shows McPhee s interests are rather wide ranging The books excerpted here touch on canoeing in Maine on travels through the sparsely populated yes center of New Jersey and on dreamers or visionaries pick your choice who plan trips to the stars by controlled atomic explosions and others who fly a craft that is a hybrid between an airplane and an airship All these sparkle with apt metaphors Generally speaking if I had a choice between hiking and peeling potatoes I would peel the potatoes And the descriptions are intimate and personal all are based on first hand experiences by McPhee as he follows his subjects wherever they take him I ought to admit here that his point of view is somewhat masculine but there is than enough in his writings to attract any reader He also has the gift of digging up unusual stories eg in Oranges he tells practically all you might want about Florida s sunshine product You not only learn the ins and outs of Indian River oranges it s a lagoon not a river but also how Ossian B Hart Later Governor Of The State Played His Violin To later governor of the state played his violin to audience of alligators And he uncovers interesting characters sometimes precociously so McPhee s first book was an admiring portrayal of a talented basketball player he got to know during college years Bill Bradley later became US senator from New Jersey and a serious contender for the US presidential nomination Four years later he wrote and a serious contender for the US presidential nomination Four years later he wrote eually admiring book about a nearly unknown young Black tennis player from Richmond Virginia Arthur Ashe And in Travels in Georgia a wilderness adventure he describes his meeting with Governor Jimmy Carter All these are included here as is an encounter between David Brouwer head of the Sierra Club and an opponent of Brouwer a prominent pro development westerner Both were invited by McPhee to share a rafting trip down the Grand Canyon And much much In each generation only a handful of books endure and become part of the literary heritage handed down from generation to generation It is too early to. Leven others His fertility his precision and grace as a stylist his wit and uncanny brilliance in choosing subject matter his crack storytelling skills have made him into one of our best writers a ournalist whom LE. Interesting and well written set of articles Some feel relevant still Loved the creative non fiction masterclass in McPhee s Searching for Marvin Gardens essay and some of the sobering profiles like the implications of nuclear technology in the future The Curve of Binding Energy down to the day to day life of a sort of savant yokel priestess that eats roadkill for sustenance in the name of conservation and ecological praxis Travels In GeorgiaDidn t really care for the for sustenance in the name of conservation and ecological praxis Travels In GeorgiaDidn t really care for the borne out of his northeastern ivy league boarding school lens so I skimmed the sections of his biographical writing and was far interested in his way of seeing issues and topics far out of his element in terms of class and scholastic background especially It s probably a cliche to say that John McPhee is a writer s writer but that s only because he never seems to have the same acclaim among casual readers And as this collection shows that s a damn shameThe first John McPhee reader is a well edited collection showcasing selections from his first dozen books and cover everything from the cultivation and selling of fruit Oranges an in depth profile of two tennis stars Levels of the Game the uirky scientists who design and built atomic bombs The Curve of Binding Energy the head of the Metropolitan Museum of Art A Roomful of Hovings and Taken as a whole it s nothing short of stunning that McPhee is able to cover to much ground and do it all so well he feels eually at home going into scientific workings of nuclear propulsion as he does writing about basketball Of course as anybody who s read McPhee before knows the core of this book is based around two kinds of writing writing about people and writing about nature And in the book s strongest sections McPhee does both The excerpt from Encounters with the Archdruid is so detailed you feel not only like you re riding in a canoe down the Colorado River but is so detailed you feel not only like you re riding in a canoe down the Colorado River but you know you feel not only like you re riding in a canoe down the Colorado River but you know Floyd Dominy and David Brower are party to their fighting and know it s because they re both eually passionate about their work But that s only one section His trip in a birchbark canoe is ust as good as a working vacation to a Scottish island It s all good and like the best anthologies it made me want to pick up each individual volume Highly recommended McPhee is ideal for readers who have outgrown Hunter S Thompson and seen through Tom Wolfe He is sometimes dragooned into the ranks of the New Journalists wrongly Unusual for an American writer McPhee is so self effacing you wonder whether his shoes even leave footprints He seems capable of injecting almost subject canoes sports nuclear physics oranges with interest and he writes with an unflashy uietly stylish grace This is a collection of excerpts from McPhee s first twelve books and is perhaps the best introduction to his oeuvre I rather envy anyone coming to it for the first time Most readers have a favorite author and mine is probably John McPhee A writer of non fiction The John McPhee Reader first published in 1976 is comprised of selections from the author's first twelve books In 1965 John McPhee published his first book A Sense of Where You Are; a decade later he had published ,

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