--Note: this event is free but ticketed. Tickets are available starting September 20th at Labyrinth Books and are limited to 2 per person--
Please come and help us celebrate the long-awaited guide to writing long-form nonfiction by the legendary author and teacher John McPhee; he will be joined by two of his accomplished students.
Draft No. 4 is a master class on the writer’s craft. In a series of playful, expertly wrought essays, McPhee shares insights he has gathered over his career and has refined while teaching at Princeton University, where he has nurtured some of the most esteemed writers of recent decades. McPhee offers definitive guidance in the decisions regarding arrangement, diction, and tone that shape nonfiction pieces, and he presents extracts from his work, subjecting them to wry scrutiny. In one essay, he considers the delicate art of getting sources to tell you what they might not otherwise reveal. In another, he discusses how to use flashback to place a bear encounter in a travel narrative, while observing that “readers are not supposed to notice the structure. It is meant to be about as visible as someone’s bones.” The result is a vivid depiction of the writing process, from reporting to drafting to revising—and revising, and revising.Throughout, Draft No. 4 is enlivened by his keen sense of writing as a way of being in the world.
John McPhee has been a staff writer at the New Yorker since 1965. He is the celebrated author of nearly 30 books, including The Control of Nature, Uncommon Carriers, Silk Parachute, and The Pine Barrens. McPhee is the recipient of the Award in Literature from the Academy of Arts and Letters as well as the Pulitzer Prize for Annals of the Former World. Robert Wright is a journalis and scholar and the author of Why Buddhism is True, The Evolution of God, Nonzero, and The Moral Animal among other books. Joel Achenbach is a staff writer for the Washington Post and the author of A Hole at the Bottom of the Sea, The Grand Idea, Why Things Are, and Captured Aliens, among others.
Co-sponsored by the Ferris Seminars at Princeton University's Humanities Council