As John McPhee approaches 80, I hear that note sounding a bit more often. Not that he's become a sentimentalist -- I'd be stunned if that. John McPhee writes on golf and lacrosse, food and fact-checkers, of the things that McPhee does in his latest collection, “Silk Parachute,”. The brief, brilliant essay "Silk Parachute," which first appeared in The New Yorker a decade ago, has become John McPhee's most anthologized piece of writing.
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Even if you abused it, whacked it really hard -- gracefully, lightly, it floated back to you. Like a treasured childhood memory.
But they are always full of revelations of curious facts and unknown linkages. Everyone knows the white cliffs of Dover.
But how many know that the same chalk that composes them also extends into France, where it underlies the great vineyards of Champagne? This essay is a ramble: We meet McPhee's grandchildren: The incident sets the scene for an exploration of history and geology silk parachute john mcphee each side of the English Channel or La Manche, if you're on the French side.
McPhee then visits what he calls "the most peaceful place in Europe -- willows over the flint garden wall, a line of poplars against the sky, cattle like brown pebbles far up the circumvallate grazings, few than few human inhabitants.
Silk parachute john mcphee accompanied by a man with the imposing name of H.
Doyne-Ditmas introduces him to Peter Hall, a viticulteur who supplies this English champagne -- though Hall refers to it as "sparkling wine" because it isn't actually made in Champagne -- to the queen.
Recent government orders have brought him 'thirteen thousand nine hundred silk parachute john mcphee of taxpayers' money. To drive the small roads and narrow lanes of Champagne is to drive the karstic downlands of Sussex and Surrey, the smoothly bold topography of Kentish chalk.
Your car goes up to silk parachute john mcphee hubcaps in milk. The white walls are cool, sticky, and damp, belying the dryness overhead. The name Champagne stems from Campania, of whose dusty fields Romans were reminded when they came here.
The porous chalk absorbs rain as fast as it falls, and the year-round temperature down in the caves is wintry. The secret to champagne, it seems, is called "riddling.
Ten Pages (or More): 1. Silk Parachute, by John McPhee, pp.
Computers do most of the riddling today, but if one breaks down, there are trained riddlers who can take over: Then silk parachute john mcphee bottle is given its familiar mushroom-shaped cork and wire cage.
Now comes the geology lesson.
Inthe Belgian J. Chalky it certainly was, silk parachute john mcphee soon the word not only made the jump from adjective to adjectival noun but also from geologic system to geologic period -- from rock to time. With the arguable exception of the Carboniferous, the Cretaceous is the only period in the forty-six hundred million years of the earth's history that was directly named for a rock.
Yet the great mass of details he presents somehow make the reader wonder what's next. That is no mean talent.
Silk Parachute by John McPhee
To date, I have read a dozen of McPhee's books, and I'm not finished yet. Find a subject that hasn't been overdone, I would say, then research silk parachute john mcphee hell out of it and write about it beautifully.
Easier said than done, of course. McPhee is the master of the "gee-whiz" article: Granted, even I didn't want to know as much about the Swiss army as McPhee decided to tell When I was a magazine editor, I always held silk parachute john mcphee McPhee as a model for my writers: And maybe McPhee got too fascinated by geology, leaving some of us wishing for more stuff like Oranges or The Pine Barrens.
And maybe Tracy Kidder has lately been leaving McPhee in the dust. But I don't know anyone who writes better prose -- fiction or non-fiction.