He’s the reason I subscribe to the New Yorker, he of the three-part series on oranges, birchbark canoes, headmasters, Bill Bradley’s basketball career, geology as revealed in highway cuts, the zen of long-haul trucking, the merchant marine, freight trains and tugboats. All hail John McPhee, the finest essayist that ever lived, master of the long form, and my hero in non-fiction authors.
As I sit on the plane, and watch poor saps miss out on the elegance of McPhee in favor of the latest Dean Koontz, I want to shake them, point them at Amazon, and say: “Buy everything this man has written and read it. And then read it again.”
I just finished his three-essay collection, The Control of Nature. The first is about the control of the Mississippi and should be required reading for anyone thinking of moving to New Orleans. The second is about man fighting volcanoes in Iceland and the final is about mudslide control in Los Angeles. This man can make anything interesting.