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Silk Parachute Paperback – March 1, 2011
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“We marvel at the pains [McPhee] takes with structure, approaching his subject from oblique angles, slowly building tension, sometimes seeming to wander, but always propelling his narratives forward . . . In the age of blogging and tweeting, of writers' near-constant self-promotion, McPhee is an imperative counterweight, a paragon of both sense and civility.” ―Elizabeth Royte, The New York Times Book Review
“Reading McPhee's lucid descriptions of [lacrosse], with its lightning pace and nuanced skill levels, one wonders why Americans spend so much time watching football . . . We're fortunate McPhee has written as much--and as well--as he has. For readers who have always wanted a more personal glimpse, Silk Parachute should be floating your way.” ―Tim McNulty, The Seattle Times
“How long the McPhee tradition will endure is anyone's guess. But for now we have Silk Parachute, a testament to a kind of literary journalism that will, with any luck, have both its standards and its standard-bearer around for years to come.” ―Danny Heitman, The Christian Science Monitor
Top Customer Reviews
But not this time. This time the personality is John McPhee, writing about things that have happened to him. Whether it is the delightful title essay, "Silk Parachute," which is worth the price of the book itself, or his lyrical exploration of The Chalk, from England and through France, for the most part these are stories about McPhee, or jokes McPhee tells on himself. And, just occasionally, a glimpse of a truly extraordinary writer, doing what he does best.
I own every published book from McPhee. I have read and re-read them all. This small collection ranks in the top 10%. Highly recommended.
It's a little uneven, quite frankly; his extensive treatise on the game of lacrosse goes on way too long for my taste. McPhee has a knack for finding interesting story points in tiny details; in this particular piece, we find an astonishing ability to cite statistics but only a handful of those stats really move the story along.
But there are also real gems - including the two short essays that open and close the book ("Silk Parachute" and "Nowheres," respectively). They're among the most lyrical and economical pieces of McPhee that I've read.
"Under the Cloth" gives us a look at an unusual collaboration between two large-format photographers, one of whom happens to be McPhee's daughter. It's a knockout, both for the way this working relationship is described, and as a glimpse into McPhee's own life. "Rip Van Golfer" presents us with McPhee as a stranger in a strange land: as a non-sports journalist covering the US Open golf tournament. It's highly entertaining. And we get some fascinating understanding of the editorial machine that is The New Yorker.
I feel I know way more about my favorite living writer than he has ever shown before. And something else that's a treat: McPhee's writing has long been witty, but some of these essays contain stuff that's laugh-out-loud funny. This book is probably a better choice for a confirmed McPhee fan than for someone just discovering him, but I'm really glad this one is in my library. I WILL read it again.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As a McPhee reader of long standing, I'm always interested in the nuts and bolts of how his subject relates to him, and the nuts and bolts of putting the story before us.Published 2 months ago by Andrew Crispin
A collection of essays about a wide variety of topics from an author who usually writes for the New Yorker magazine. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Nancy A
McPhee is a terrific reporter. He sees interesting aspects in subjects I formerly discarded. Thank you Mr McPhee and for the delightful manner by which these stories are reported.Published 4 months ago by Michael Pantaleoni
Superbly written, as one expects from McPhee, though a bit too much lacrosse for my taste.Published 9 months ago by Amazon Customer
The author has an encyclopedic mind and a gift for the English language that is truly humbling. Write on, please!Published 19 months ago by barbara restin
As always. John McPhee has never written a bad book or article. My favorite authorPublished 20 months ago by David G. Hope
I keep thinking that I could make my writing more engaging if I read enough McPhee. Osmosis isn't working, but what fun to read his stuff.Published 21 months ago by M J