Book blurbin’ – Sam Anderson on John McPhee

McPhee has built a career on…small detonations of knowledge. His mind is pure curiosity: It aspires to flow into every last corner of the world, especially the places most of us overlook…McPhee’s work is not melancholy, macabre, sad or defeatist. It is full of life. Learning, for him, is a way of loving the world, savoring it, before it’s gone. In the grand cosmology of John McPhee, all the earth’s facts touch one another-all its regions, creatures, and eras. It’s absences and presences. Fish, trucks, atoms, bears, whiskey, grass, rocks, lacrosse, weird prehistoric oysters, grandchildren and Pangea. Every part of time touches every other part of time.

Sam Anderson
McPhee, John. The Patch. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018 (see back cover blurb, hardcover edition)

I wanted to capture this passage for the language: Words like macabre and detonations stoke the linguistic fires. And nudge me towards the dictionary.

But also, it’s a returning theme in this commonplace book – curiosity.

The people that fascinate me; the Thomas Jeffersons, the Paul Otlets, the Temple Grandins, the Benjamin Rushes, are eternally curious. And curious about an eternal amount of subjects.

Sam Anderson is spot on. Learning is a way to love and savor our world.

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