New McPhee

There is a new book from John McPhee entitled Silk Parachute. It is a superb addition to his already outstanding corpus of work from this master practioner of the art of creative nonfiction. Silk Parachute is a much more personal work than its predecessors. The title essay is about his mother’s influence on his life and is a very humorous piece. McPhee graduated from Princeton in 1953 and at first was drawn towards fiction. He wrote a 30,000 word novel for his thesis which he said “had a really good structure and was technically fine. But it had no life in it.” Thankfully for us this experience made him realize that “the form of writing that I gravitated to was factual writing.” He has written about sports (Levels of the Game), travel (Coming into the Country), science (The Control of Nature) in a masterful and imaginative way. He shows at the age of 79 no signs of slowing down for which we can be very grateful.

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