John McPhee

I decided to have a separate entry for this major writer, since he has been so central in my reading for at least five decades. He was a writer for The New Yorker, and many of his pieces there resulted in one of his more than thirty books. I have not read every single one, but I’ve read a majority of them. Once long ago at a faculty/staff luncheon at the School of Information at Michigan, we each had to say who we would have liked to have been. My answer was John McPhee. Obviously, all of these books were written by him, so I can skep the author component of each review. Also, all of them were published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process. 2017.

McPhee has taught expository writing at Princeton for many years. This volume contains eight essays based on that class. One of its most enjoyable features is that he illustrates his points with examples from his vast corpus of books. It was fun to see these examples, most of which came from books I had read earlier.

The Patch. 2018.

This volume has two parts. The first is a series of essays under the heading “The Sporting Scene,” and includes fishing, football, golf, lacrosse, and bears. The are all very entertaining, in McPhee’s inimitable fashion. Part Two is the most unusual. It is called “An Album Quilt,” and it consists of a large number of fragments, some as short as a few sentences, others longer, of things he started but never finished. Once again the range of subjects is amazing.