THEPINEBARRENS JOHN McPHEE Daunt Books, £9.99
This enjoyable account has been republished for its 50th anniversary, where McPhee describes the Pine Barrens’ history, topography and botany, myths and customs, and its people and prospects. It’s unlikely many of us will have the opportunity to visit such a place, so this book should allow the next best thing. About a third of the way in I twigged that the Pine Barrens featured in one of the famous episodes of The Sopranos. Aside from that the place had never flickered across my imagination. McPhee I knew from the New Yorker as one of the finest craftsmen of creative nonfiction, and with last year’s Draft No 4, his enjoyable writing manifesto-of-sorts. He has also written an entire book about oranges, and once lay on an outdoor table for two weeks to sum up the creative will to begin a new project. Therefore you can expect dense thickets of detail and structure (always structure), and he gives it to you straight – to an extent some readers might find dull – in a style that must be an editor’s dream, nevertheless.