Coming Into Mcphee Country

John McPhee, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1999 for Annals of the Former World, is considered one of the most distinguished writers of literary nonfiction. Coming into McPhee Country is the first comprehensive anthology to address his significant body of work.

The first section, 'The Evolving Writer,' examines his work from a biographical point of view, explaining background and influences that affected his development as a writer. The second section, 'McPhee and the Natural World,' focuses on his representations of the natural world and explores his work from the framework of both wilderness and urban environmentalism. The final section, 'The Writerly Challenges of McPhee,' discusses his rhetorical choices in structure and style and demonstrates how his seemingly artless presentation is literary in every sense of the word. Overall, this volume salutes McPhee’s enormous and enormously varying oeuvre and confirms his stature as a major American writer.

O. Alan Weltzien is professor of English at the University of Montana-Dillon and the editor of The Literary Art and Activism of Rick Bass.

Susan N. Maheris is associate professor of English at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Table of Contents:

I. The Evolving Writer
Introducing John McPhee ~ William Howarth
"The Size and Shape of the Canvas": An Interview with John McPhee ~ Jared Haynes
Pieces and the Frame: McPhee and Portraiture ~ Barbara Lounsberry
"Essence of Writer": John McPhee's Early Training ~ Norman Sims

II. McPhee and the Natural World
John McPhee and the Question of Environmental Advocacy ~ O. Alan Weltzien
In the American Grain: John McPhee's Coming into the Country ~ Michael Pearson
Giving Good Reasons: Environmental Appeals in the Nonfiction of John McPhee ~ Brian Turner
"In a Lifetime of Descending Rivers": The Art and Argument of John McPhee's "River Essays" ~ Theodore C. Humphrey
A Plate Tectonics of Language: Geology as a Vernacular Science ~ Rick Van Noy
John McPhee's Annals of the Former World: Geology, Culture, and a Fountain of Metaphor ~ Barbara Stevens

III. The Writerly Challenges of McPhee
Traveling in Social Spaces: John McPhee's Dichotomies in Levels of the Game and "In Search of Marvin Gardens" ~ Meta G. Carstarphen
John McPhee Balances the Act ~ Kathy Smith
"Academic Air": Teaching The Control of Nature ~ Daniel J. Philippon
"Pentimento in the Hide": Cracking Code with John McPhee

Notes on Contributors 

Praise and Reviews:
"John McPhee is an innovative, intelligent craftsman, a kindly writer who has explored and tremendously enhanced the breadth of 'literary nonfiction.' This multi-faceted view of his work describes his impeccable research and literary style and so introduces us, readers and writers alike, to the landmark accomplishments of his memorable career—it's obligatory for understanding McPhee's work."—Ann Zwinger, author of The Nearsighted Naturalist

"Consistently readable and steadily fascinating.... Taken in its entirety, Coming into McPhee Country should appeal to a wide audience, pleasing both longtime admirers of McPhee and readers new to his substantial work."—Western American Literature