Friday, May 7, 2010

McPhee on Nonfiction


"I decided that I would work in the big world by day and learn how it worked, then write about it at night."

"Structure is not a template. It's not cookie cutter. It's something that arises organically from the material once you have it."

"All these labels - I've been called an agricultural writer, an outdoor writer, an environmental writer, a sportswriter, a science writer. And so you just grin. I'm a writer who writes about real people in real places. End of story."

"But some people think I should be writing with my cudgel. They think that I don't have the temerity to express these opinions. That's just the exact reverse of what's going on. I'm trying to lay things out for the reader. Not to take the reader and rub his nose in it, and say, This is how you should think. I want the reader to do his own thinking. And why do I do that? Because I think it's a higher form of writing."

John McPhee on nonfiction writing - Paris Review, Issue 192