Review: Silk Parachute

Silk Parachute, by John McPhee, Farrar, Straus and Giroux (March 2, 2010)

John McPhee, in WC’s opinion, has for some 25 years been America’s greatest non-fiction writer. Whether it has been his epic, four volume series of geology, or esoterica like The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed, or his best work, Coming into the Country, McPhee writes on an extraordinary range of subjects by finding and writing about the amazing people he has encountered, who give us insights into the subjects McPhee has selected.

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.

WC owns every published book from McPhee. I have read and re-read them all. This small collection ranks in the top 10%. Highly recommended.