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The John McPhee Reader Paperback – June 1, 1982
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“The most versatile journalist in America.” ―Edward Hoagland, The New York Times Book Review
“For those who are familiar with his work in its original form, this collection reaffirms just how good McPhee is at what he does. For those who aren't, it provides a solid introduction to his versatility . . . We become privy to the widening dimensions of his reportial domain--a landscape fertile and diverse enough to accommodate hybrid flying machines as gracefully as it does oranges, one that can appreciate the skills of a gragline operator as much as those of a theoretical physicist. Plant something in this landscape and it will most assuredly thrive.” ―J. N. Silverman, The Washington Star
“What makes a piece of John McPhee's reportage so reliably superior? . . . Most obviously, he finds interesting things to write about . . . Then there us his facility for dreaming up odd and out-of-the-way approaches to his subjects . . . Add to this his knack for illustrating with amusing anecdotes . . . And there you have an approximate John McPhee recipe, lacking only the dramatic confrontations, the interesting characters, and the unusual vantage points, which I neglected to mention.” ―Christopher Lehmann, The New York Times
About the Author
John McPhee was born in Princeton, New Jersey, and was educated at Princeton University and Cambridge University. His writing career began at Time magazine and led to his long association with The New Yorker, where he has been a staff writer since 1965. Also in 1965, he published his first book, A Sense of Where You Are, with Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and in the years since, he has written nearly 30 books, including Oranges (1967), Coming into the Country (1977), The Control of Nature (1989), The Founding Fish (2002), Uncommon Carriers (2007), and Silk Parachute (2011). Encounters with the Archdruid (1972) and The Curve of Binding Energy (1974) were nominated for National Book Awards in the category of science. McPhee received the Award in Literature from the Academy of Arts and Letters in 1977. In 1999, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Annals of the Former World. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey.
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And what a surprise I found! McPhee uses the English language in ways that are superbly explicatory, often lyrical, yet never obtrusive. I'd had a life-long antipathy to basketball, yet his essay on Bill Bradley's play on the court held my interest to the last work. I had never had any curiosity about oranges, but the essay on the history, botany, and marketing of the simple fruit enchanted me. My vague impression of New Jersey was dismal until I read McPhee's essay on "The Pine Barrens" which put the destination on my "Places to Go" list.
And likewise with the other ten chapters in this book. Every one of them addressed a subject from unexpected perspectives and in language that broadened my horizons at the same time it made me a fan of McPhee's prose, no matter the subject.