My favorite essay in John McPhee’s book, The Silk Parachute is “My Life List.” McPhee talks about the weirdest things he’s ever eaten, and, in doing so, he describes an encounter he had with that icon of the 70’s, Euell Gibbons. He shared boiled dandelions and water mint tea (remember the Grape Nuts commercial?) with Euell.
This seems mighty tame compared to the weasel, lion, whale, grizzly bear and bee spit meals he had.
McPhee’s great skill is to make any subject, no matter how arcane, fascinating. He supplies just the right detail and sets the scene and before you know it, you’re sucked in.
In this series of essays written for the New Yorker, he often refers to feedback he received from legendary editor, Wallace Shawn.