An “album quilt,” an artful assortment of nonfiction writings by John McPhee that have not previously appeared in any book
The Patch is the seventh collection of essays by the nonfiction master, all published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. It is divided into two parts.
Part 1, “The Sporting Scene,” consists of pieces on fishing, football, golf, and lacrosse—from fly casting for chain pickerel in fall in New Hampshire to walking the linksland of St. Andrews at an Open Championship. Part 2, called “An Album Quilt,” is a montage of fragments of varying length from pieces done across the years that have never appeared in book form—occasional pieces, memorial pieces, reflections, reminiscences, and short items in various magazines including The New Yorker. They range from a visit to the Hershey chocolate factory to encounters with Oscar Hammerstein, Joan Baez, and Mount Denali.
Emphatically, the author’s purpose was not merely to preserve things but to choose passages that might entertain contemporary readers. Starting with 250,000 words, he gradually threw out 75 percent of them, and randomly assembled the remaining fragments into “an album quilt.” Among other things, The Patch is a covert memoir.
Praise for The Patch
“[McPhee] provides a bountiful cornucopia of insightful essays that display the wide range of his interests and tastes . . . McPhee delights in cracking open subjects, both ordinary and esoteric, and making them accessible to the layperson in works that testify to his virtuosity as one of the greatest living American essayists.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
John McPhee is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of Draft No. 4, Table of Contents, Silk Parachute, and The Survival of the Bark Canoe among many other books. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey.