“Crossing the Craton”

McPhee, John. “Crossing the Craton.” Annals of the Former World. New York: Farrar, Straus and Grioux, 1998.

For starters, do not be intimidated by the subject matter: geology. McPhee writes with a folksy tone. Right away he is calling the reader “friend.” This is not to say the content of “Crossing the Craton” has been dumbed down. It hasn’t. McPhee doesn’t spare the reader from words like brachiopods, samarain, neodymium and nautiloids and his timelines are a confusing mess. It takes some getting used to but I have to say this, reading about the oldest rock (35 billion years old) from the Minnesota River Valley is pretty fascinating. “Crossing the Craton” is the last chapter in his behemoth book, Annals of the Former World and probably the shortest.

Best quote, “There would be more to tell you if you could sense what you can’t see” (p 626).

Reason read: I am treating the final chapter of Annals of the Former World as a short story since it is under 50 pages long. All the other “chapters” are actually separate books that I will be reading at different times.

As an aside, every since Natalie Merchant sang about the San Andreas fault I have always been curious about it. McPhee talks about it several times in “Crossing the Craton.”

Author fact: John McPhee has written over 24 different books. I only have six of them on my list.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “The Beckoning Road” (p 19).



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