John McPhee


John McPhee

John Angus McPhee (born March 8, 1931) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer widely considered one of the pioneers of narrative nonfiction. Like Tom Wolfe and Hunter Thompson, he helped kick-start the "new journalism" which, in the 1960s, revolutionized nonfiction by incorporating techniques from novels and other forms of fiction. McPhee avoided the attention-grabbing streams of consciousness of Wolfe and Thompson, but his detailed description of characters, insatiable appetite for details, and masterful style make his writing lively, readable, and personal, even when it focuses on obscure or difficult topics.

Background

McPhee was born in Princeton, New Jersey, the son of the Princeton University team physician, Dr. Harry McPhee. John McPhee was educated at Princeton High School, then spent a postgraduate year at Deerfield Academy, before attending Princeton University and Cambridge University.

While at Princeton, McPhee went to New York once or twice a week to appear as the juvenile panelist on the radio and television quiz program Twenty Questions. [Cite news | issn = 0040-718X | title = HP-Time.com | work = Time | accessdate = 2008-09-18 | date = 1962-11-23 | url = http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,829455,00.html ]

Twice married, McPhee is the father of four daughters, among them the novelists Jenny and Martha McPhee [cite web
url=http://www.identitytheory.com/people/birnbaum79.html
title=Jenny & Martha McPhee
publisher=Identity Theory
date= December 25, 2002
last= Birnbaum
first=Robert
accessdate=2008-03-16
] , and photographer Laura McPhee.

Writing career

His writing career began at "Time" magazine and led to a long association with "The New Yorker" beginning in 1965 and continuing to the present. Many of his twenty-nine books include material originally written for that magazine.

He has received many literary honors, including the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 1999, awarded for "Annals of the Former World". In 1978 McPhee received a Litt.D. from Bates College.

McPhee's subjects, reflecting his personal interests, are highly eclectic. He has written pieces on lifting body development ("The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed"), the United States Merchant Marine ("Looking for a Ship"), farmers' markets ("Giving Good Weight"), the shifting flow of the Mississippi River ("The Control of Nature"), geology (in several books), as well as a short book entirely on the subject of oranges. One of his most widely read books is about the Alaskan wilderness ("Coming into the Country"). His newest book, "Uncommon Carriers", published 16 May 2006, is about freight transportation.

McPhee has profiled a number of famous people, including conservationist David Brower and the young Bill Bradley, whom McPhee followed closely during Bradley's four-year basketball career at Princeton University. The resulting book, "A Sense of Where You Are", is a classic of non-fiction writing -- a literary craftsman's admiring profile of a basketball craftsman. But some of McPhee's most memorable work describes people who work out of the limelight: a builder of birch bark canoes (Henri Vaillancourt), a bush pilot, and a French-speaking wine maker in the Swiss army.

Teaching

McPhee is also a renowned nonfiction writing instructor at Princeton University, having taught generations of aspiring undergraduate writers, many of whom have achieved distinction in literature and journalism. Among his former students are David Remnick, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and current editor of "The New Yorker"; Richard Stengel and Jim Kelly, the current and former managing editors of Time Magazine; journalist Robert Wright, former senior editor at The New Republic and columnist for Time, Slate and the New York Times, and author of award-winning books; and Peter Hessler, "The New Yorker's" China correspondent. McPhee still teaches his writing seminar two years out of every three.

Awards

* Pulitzer Prize (1999) for "Annals of the Former World".
* Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1977).
* nominated, National Book Award (science) for "The Curve of Binding Energy".
* nominated, National Book Award (science) for "Encounters With the Archdruid".

Books by John McPhee

*"A Sense of Where You Are" (1965) ISBN 0-374-51485-2
*"The Headmaster" (1966) ISBN 0-374-16860-1
*"Oranges" (1967) ISBN 0-374-22688-1
*"The Pine Barrens" (1968) ISBN 0-374-23360-8.
*"A Roomful of Hovings and Other Profiles" ISBN 0-374-51501-8 (collection, 1969)
*"Levels of the Game" (1969) ISBN 0-374-51526-3. Explores the relationship between two champion tennis players.
*"The Crofter and the Laird" (1969) ISBN 0-374-13192-9
*"Encounters with the Archdruid" (1972) ISBN 0-374-14822-8.
*"The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed" (1973)ISBN 0-374-51635-9. Story of the Aereon, a combination aerodyne / aerostat a.k.a. hybrid airship.
*"The Curve of Binding Energy" (1974) ISBN 0-374-13373-5
*"Pieces of the Frame" (collection, 1975) ISBN 0-374-51498-4
*"The Survival of the Bark Canoe" (1975) ISBN 0-374-27207-7
*"The John McPhee Reader" (collection, 1977) ISBN 0-374-17992-1
*"Coming into the Country" (1977) ISBN 0-374-52287-1
*"Giving Good Weight" (collection, 1979) ISBN 0-374-16306-5
*"Basin and Range" (1981) ISBN 0-374-10914-1. Republished in "Annals of the Former World".
*"In Suspect Terrain" (1983) ISBN 0-374-17650-7. Republished in "Annals of the Former World".
*"La Place de la Concorde Suisse" (1984) ISBN 0-374-51932-3
*"Table of Contents" (collection, 1985) ISBN 0-374-52008-9
*"Rising from the Plains" (1986) ISBN 0-374-25082-0. Republished in "Annals of the Former World".
*"Heirs of General Practice" (1986) ISBN 0-374-51974-9
*"The Control of Nature" (1989) ISBN 0-374-12890-1
*"Looking for a Ship" (1990) ISBN 0-374-19077-1
*"Assembling California" (1993) ISBN 0-374-52393-2. Republished in "Annals of the Former World".
*"The Ransom of Russian Art" (1994) ISBN 0-374-24682-3
*"The Second John McPhee Reader" (1996) ISBN 0-374-52463-7
*"Irons in the Fire" (1997) ISBN 0-374-17726-0
*"Annals of the Former World" (1998) ISBN 0-374-10520-0. Compilation of five stories on geology. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1999.
*"The Founding Fish" (2002) ISBN 0-374-10444-1
*"The American Shad: Selections from the Founding Fish" (2004) ISBN 1-886967-14-8
*"Uncommon Carriers" (2006) ISBN 0-374-28039-8

Notes

External links

* [http://www.johnmcphee.com/ publisher's official web site]
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66yuZWkxBik John McPhee interviewed on WPRB Princeton 103.3 FM's "Discourse"]


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