Books: Reading Rocks

IN SUSPECT TERRAIN by John McPhee

Farrar, Straus & Giroux: 210 pages; $12.95

No other journalist avoids the obvious with as much success as John McPhee. To hold readers through books about oranges, the New Jersey Pine Barrens or birchbark canoes is a tribute to his eye for narrative grain and hand for prose dovetails. The sanding and finishing are done by editors at The New Yorker, where McPhee's books first appear.

In Suspect Terrain, the latest issue of this arrangement, is a companion volume to Basin and Range (1981). That book explained the New Geology, based on McPhee's travels through the far West...

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