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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 is.Well it turns out that every single one of them is just copying John McPhee, who is so much better at the genre than anyone else. It's unreal. These were just excerpts and I now want to read half the books they're from. He has a perfect eye for scenery an...
Most readers have a favorite author, and mine is probably John McPhee. A writer of non-fiction, he takes delight in exploring unconventional aspects of our society, presented through colorful individuals and described in crisp and scintillating language. This book is a 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 min
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 great job of providing an introduction to his work.
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, quietly stylish grace. This is a collection of excerpts from McPhee’s first twelve...
A marvelous introduction to the depth and breadth of John McPhee, a journalist’s 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 piqued my interest in several books of his that I haven’t read yet (particul...
I first started reading John McPhee's essays when they would show up from time to time in the New Yorker. The words stuck, the ideas taught, and the subjects delighted. Having a large collection of his essays in one place is great.
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 more casual readers. And, as this collection shows, that's a damn shame.The 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 quirky scientists who design and built atom...
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. And 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 19...
Loved the creative non-fiction masterclass in McPhee’s “Searching for Marvin Gardens,” essay and some of the more 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 Georgia).Didn’t really care for the sections borne out of his northeastern ivy league boarding school lens, so I skimm...
This is as good of an introduction to McPhee's body of work as any... Certainly there are some topics that will interest the reader more than others (for this soul, those offerings would include Georgia, Atlantic City, the Pine Barrens and Arthur Ashe), so it doesn't really serve as a book per se.Editor William L Howarth provides quality overviews at the beginning of each excerpt. However, I'd skip the intro, which is just too flowery and long-winded.
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.
Interesting and well written set of articles. Some feel relevant still.
Stopped in the middle because my library hold expired, but I'd gladly check it out again and keep going down the line.
I love John McPhee's work. It's not a fast read but his work is beautiful and meticulous.
This book contains 12 articles, or chapters, that were written by McPhee from 1965 to 1975. The strongest single element in these works is McPhee’s use of detail. In The Pine Barrens McPhee tells the story about New Jersey’s great forest, the Pine Barrens, and its back-woods inhabitants, the “pineys.” The piece is richly appointed with details about the history of the Pine Barrens, the people who live there, and the forest itself. Consider the following description of a piney named Bill Wasovwi
If you have never enjoyed non-fiction, this book will prove that it's possible to do so. Dense with facts and figures, the narrative is so compelling that you'll forget it's not fiction, you'll take an interest in topics to which you'd previously never given a thought, and you'll wish you could meet the people that McPhee is describing.This book offers a sampler of McPhee's work, taking excerpts from a dozen books. My favorite involves a rafting trip down the Colorado River to which he invited a...
some of the most detailed, descriptive journalism I have ever read. McPhee was (is?) a staff writer for the New Yorker and wrote on a multitude of topics, always digging far beneath the surface of his characters and their hobbies, passions, interests. you gotta be in the mood for this type of reading; i try to imagine myself reading an issue of the New Yorker when I pick up this book, so that I can make sure I finish at least one of the book excerpts that are included in this collection. althoug...
A terrific place to start, but really this is dipping one's toes. McPhee is a consummate journalist, one of the best I've ever encountered at simply packing each line, paragraph, and piece with valid, juicy information. The man was my gold standard when I wrote Deaf Side Story and remains an idol today.But it's not just the prose, it's his topics. One could say he is (often) an "environmental" writer, but that's too simple, and misses the mark: what McPhee does so well is to pick the exact focal...
This volume, originally published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 1976, contains essays and articles written between 1965 to 1976. I couldn't find a paperback edition with the cover that is on the one we have, but I'm pretty sure it is the same book.I couldn't swear that I read all of the pieces in the book aloud to Maggee, but we certainly read many of them (not in this collection, but in others or in stand-alone volumes)... and very much enjoyed them.The "Date I finished..." refers not to our
Another wonderful John McPhee book that elucidates the geology and illuminates some human experience on that terrain. McPhee didn't mention the ecological disaster that is Farson WY, but he did hit many other problems and situations. One of McPhee's strengths is his ability to lucidly describe and summarize complex scientific theories. He makes you think you, even you, might be able to understand a little geology. A great book in his series which should be read by anyone who will travel the I80
This was Anna's pick for our book exchange. I did not get to read every piece but the ones I did read I liked very much. He has a way of making the mundane seem terribly interesting. My favorites were "The Barrens" and the one about the art museum director, Sorry I can't recall the name of that one at the moment., but it was a fascinating look at a person who is really excellent at his job. I guess that is th genius of McPhee.
If you like John McPhee, or you've been told you should, this is a nice sample of his work. Since his books are so deeply about something, you'll get a sense of which topics might interest you by browsing/reading this book. For instance, I'm not so interested in baseball. So, I won't read A Sense of Where You Are.
McPhee writes nonfiction like a surgeon performs an operation. Nothing escapes his calm perception, whether an art museum, snake-infested swamps, oranges, or nuclear weapons. If there's any flaw it's that his clinical precision maybe dampers the energy on occasion—but believe me, you won't be wasting your time. "The most versatile journalist in America" indeed.
I fucking love John McPhee. I never cussed on Goodreads before, but there it is. His writing is just so good. He's a master of creative nonfiction. The reader is a great introduction to his work in all its depth and breadth. Now I want to read each and every book that was excerpted for the reader, as if I didn't already want to read everything he wrote.
I've been meaning to read McPhee for awhile. Perhaps I should've waited to find a full book by him. It is nice to read a clip of a work by him, and to finish it. It's a bit like reading a magazine. I never would have read about Bill Bradley and the Deerfield headmaster otherwise. Which is good?
Great introduction to one of the best literary journalists out there. Also good for people with short attention spans who don't want to read his full-length books, and just want a taste of some good creative non-fiction.
This is the book I read and re-read to try and figure out how McPhee does it. Might as well read the Bible to figure out how you part the Red Sea or walk on water.
Geology and geography for the normal person!
I read this a good twenty years ago and found it to be very interesting and varied. It started me on reading his books.
One of the he Masters of narrative nonfiction!