Thursday, June 22, 2006


I made a mistake this weekend, but I didn't find out until Tuesday night. On Sunday, I was reading the internets, and saw that John McPhee has a new book, Uncommon Carriers. I own a copy of every one of McPhee's books, so I immediately called the Alexandria Olsson's (support independent booksellers!) and reserved a copy. I had it in my hands 30 minutes later, and started reading as soon as I got home.

A quick side note: I think everyone should read John McPhee. At least one of his many books should be interesting to you; he's covered so many subjects. Geology, the U.S. Merchant Marine, Bill Bradley, russian art, Ecology and conservation, shad fishing, man's attempts to reshape nature, oranges, and many more. And he is an extraordinary writer. Have a look the next time you're at your local public library.

So, I have the book and am very happy. Then, on Tuesday night, Mom calls and asks:

Mom: Have you bought any books lately?
Dan: Yeeeeeees.
Mom: What books did you buy?
Dan: (excitedly) There's a new John McPhee book, so I got that.
Mom: (expletive deleted)

Turns out Mom had heard about the book, and ordered it from Amazon. Unfortunately, it didn't get there in time to beat me to the punch. It would have been a fantastic surprise, if I hadn't ruined it by being such a book junkie. I was jonezing, and needed my fix.

In brighter news, I heard from my old friend Steve, who is now living just south of the Beltway in Springfield. Hopefully I'll get to see him this weekend, and we can grill on his new back patio and catch up.


Illiterati said...

New John McPhee? If you're getting another copy through the mails, save it for me when I'm there in a couple weeks, I want it I want it I want it!

When was the last time he sat down and wrote a book? (Irons In The Fire doesn't really count.) He was so extraordinarily prolific, then nothing for, what, at least ten-fifteen years now.

Dan said...

Actually, while McPhee has slowed down, he has a few along with Irons in the Fire. There was Annals of the Former World, which collected his previous geology books alongside the new book-length piece Crossing the Craton. And there was The Founding Fish in 2002. This is a lot slower than his former book-a-year pace, but you should write so much and so well when you are 75. Seriously, look at his wikipedia entry - he's written a lot of great books, and many articles besides.

As for the other copy - talk to Mom and Dad.

incognescenti said...

You don't have to tell me. I read them all (almost entirely in a year-long binge at school), or at least thought I had: I've apparently not been paying attention, and had not heard at all of The Founding Fish, or Uncommon Carriers. Also was unaware of a "53% new footage!" component to the geology compilation.

Thought you were saying that the 2nd copy was sent directly to you. I'll see about staking my claim in Maine, then.