Silk Parachute

by John McPhee

Paperback, 2011




Farrar, Straus and Giroux, (2011)


The essay "Silk Parachute," which first appeared in The New Yorker a decade ago, has become John McPhee's most anthologized piece of writing. In the nine other pieces here--highly varied in length and theme--McPhee ranges with his characteristic humor and intensity through lacrosse, long-exposure view-camera photography, the weird foods he has sometimes been served in the course of his reportorial travels, a U.S. Open golf championship, and a season in Europe "on the chalk" from the downs and sea cliffs of England to the Maas valley in the Netherlands and the champagne country of northern France. Some of the pieces are wholly personal, including recollections of his early years, but each piece, on whatever theme, contains a personal aspect in which McPhee suggests why he was attracted to write about the subject, and each opens like a silk parachute, lofted skyward and suddenly blossoming with color and form.--From publisher description.… (more)

Media reviews

I will take McPhee any day, on any subject. If it must be lacrosse, or golf, so be it. Most readers won’t mind the occasional phrase gone precious — such indulgences only set the spare, move-me-to-tears passages into higher relief. 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.

User reviews

LibraryThing member nemoman
McPhee has the knack of taking a subject you might have no interest in, and then through the careful buildup of facts, characters, and clean, lucid prose, he has you captivated. Here, McPhee achieves his usual excellence with essays on diverse subjects ranging from canoeing to Lacrosse.. He does appear to include more autobiographical references - indeed, I am hard pressed to recall any in his earlier works. His essay on Lacrosse did drag for me at times. This, however, is minor criticism. Whenever, I am mentoring young attorneys with respect to their writing skills, I always recommend they read McPhee. To become a good writer, you need to read good writing. McPhee is good writing.… (more)
LibraryThing member FredB
A series of essays by John McPhee. There are some occasional insights, but one is left with the impression that this venerable writer should retire.
LibraryThing member Smiley
This latest collection of essays by New Yorker staff writer John McPhee is also his most autobiographical.

I can't say I liked the subjects of all the essays. The one on lacrosse started to get a bit tiresome and McPhee writes more about geology than I like to read, but I always still with him because the man can write! If even a quarter of those blogging out there would stop long enough to read a good dose of McPhee's prose the world would be a better place.… (more)


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