Re: a second for McPhee

Subject: Re: a second for McPhee
From: Ad absurdum per aspera <JTCHEW -at- LBL -dot- GOV>
Date: Thu, 5 Jan 1995 11:27:28 -0800

Well... nothing he writes is really all that technical by
most of our standards, but I'll agree that he usually does
an outstanding job of making arcane subjects, presented at
some level of detail, interesting to nonspecialists.

His only flaws are showing off a bit with his vocabulary (while
I have a certain respect for someone who can send me to the
dictionary that often, I don't necessarily consider it a virtue)
and, in some books, trying a bit too hard to see the transcendent
in the ordinary. Also, sometimes he fails to give a sense of
synopsis amid all the details and narrative threads; _Assembling
California_ in particular struck me as beyond the limits of what
his essay/article approach can manage. Some things need pictures,
if not animations.

I'd recommend _The Curve of Binding Energy_, _Giving Good
Weight_, and _Basin and Range_ as good introductions to what
his style and approach can accomplish, which is quite
startlingly good. Then just pick 'em at random off the shelf;
even a McPhee stinker can stand with most authors' best work.

"Just another personal opinion from the People's Republic of Berkeley"
Disclaimer: Even if my employer had a position on the subject,
I probably wouldn't be the one stating it on their behalf.

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