Malcolm Harris writes:
McPhee’s isn’t action painting; if he is painting at all, his brand of composition reminds me most of forgery: He doesn’t futilely attempt to recreate reality, but to mold something so full and alive that it would be hard to start a long and complicated disentangling from the actual. (…)
The market’s role in journalism and publishing has changed both a lot, almost entirely for the worse as far as McPhee’s heirs could be concerned. McPhee’s stories about negotiating with Roger W. Straus Jr. at the publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux sans agent should come with a big bold warning that says “Do not attempt this in 2017.” FSG, once an eccentric independent house, is now a corporate subsidiary of Macmillan. Straus was there to support McPhee, implying (in McPhee’s recollection) that they’d even publish his bad books. When the New Yorker hit a rough spot, Straus offered McPhee a parachute package of five book deals. Given their professional context, his intricate structural diagrams start to look like runes of a bygone profession.