In the hands of a great reporter and a thoughtful individual, a set of essays can become a way of having a wonderful conversation. In Into The Story (Simon & Schuster, $26) David Maraniss has included an array of work—pieces from his books on Clinton, Roberto Clemente, Vince Lombardi—and from his journalism. He offers the moving portrait of Clark Welch’s return to Vietnam and a horrifying eyewitness account of the events of 9-ll. The collection showcases the range of Maraniss’s interests: politics, sports, friendship, and family. While I had read many of the articles before, I found myself rereading them with great pleasure. Gathered together as chapters in this book, they reflect Maraniss’s admirable craft and sensibility. A great reporter does more than relate the news; he filters it through his education, experience, and moral sense. It is particularly the last of these which I enjoyed here.
John McPhee has long been known for taking very specific topics and sussing out everything that makes them interesting. With his 28th book, McPhee widens the filter and turns his gaze on himself. Silk Parachute (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $25) sheds light on where the ideas for previous books have come from: McPhee’s experience with canoes as a child, his year at Deerfield Academy, his first glimpse of Bill Bradley playing basketball at Princeton. This book is like a perfect copy of The New Yorker where every story is captivating and every word is worth reading.