Skip to main content
Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The Patch

The Patch

John McPhee

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

BUY THE BOOK

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.

The Patch


You move your canoe through open water a fly cast away from a patch of lily pads. You cast just shy of the edge of the pads—inches off the edge of the pads. A chain pickerel is a lone ambush hunter. Its body resembles...

Praise for The Patch

"Pulitzer winner John McPhee has spent his career covering subjects that don’t inherently seem like fodder for good, much less gripping, journalism: things like geology, oranges, shad. But he’s adept at making the esoteric seem essential and personal. The Patch, his latest collection of nonfiction essays, largely about angling and sports, is no exception . . . McPhee proves there’s transcendence in the trivial and, like a good drinking pal, comes off as generous, smart, and curious about life’s splendor, however small." —J.R. Sullivan, Men's Health

"The Patch, John McPhee’s new book, could only have been written by a journalist with decades of experience and an archivist’s disposition . . . In McPhee’s career-spanning miscellany, he marvels at Iceland’s glaciers, shadows Hershey’s chief chocolate taster and admires the roller-skating bears of the Moscow State Circus . . . There are many lovely passages in The Patch . . . A single paragraph on Peter O’Toole, sun-scorched and battered after shooting “Lawrence of Arabia,” is beautifully written — if only it weren’t so fleeting. But such is the nature of this project. McPhee, a journalistic pack rat, has shared the best of his archives, and the result is a valuable overview of a long, peripatetic career." —Kevin Canfield, Minneapolis Star Tribune

“[McPhee] provides a bountiful cornucopia of insightful essays that display the wide range of his interests and tastes . . . McPhee delights in cracking… More…

"Pulitzer winner John McPhee has spent his career covering subjects that don’t inherently seem like fodder for good, much less gripping, journalism: things like geology, oranges, shad. But he’s adept at making the esoteric seem essential and personal. The Patch, his latest collection of nonfiction essays, largely about angling and sports, is no exception . . . McPhee proves there’s transcendence in the trivial and, like a good drinking pal, comes off as generous, smart, and curious about life’s splendor, however small." —J.R. Sullivan, Men's Health

"The Patch, John McPhee’s new book, could only have been written by a journalist with decades of experience and an archivist’s disposition . . . In McPhee’s career-spanning miscellany, he marvels at Iceland’s glaciers, shadows Hershey’s chief chocolate taster and admires the roller-skating bears of the Moscow State Circus . . . There are many lovely passages in The Patch . . . A single paragraph on Peter O’Toole, sun-scorched and battered after shooting “Lawrence of Arabia,” is beautifully written — if only it weren’t so fleeting. But such is the nature of this project. McPhee, a journalistic pack rat, has shared the best of his archives, and the result is a valuable overview of a long, peripatetic career." —Kevin Canfield, Minneapolis Star Tribune

“[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)

"Delightful . . . It's a rare gift, to be able to see as well as McPhee sees, and to be given the time that it takes to describe the connections between things so clearly . . . It's also rare to encounter a writer who writes so artfully about himself while hardly writing about himself at all." —Bookforum

Less…

Reviews from Goodreads

John McPhee

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.

image of John McPhee o
Yolanda Whitman

John McPhee

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Latest on Facebook

LATEST ON TWITTER