Irons In the Fire

by McPhee, John

The title piece of this seven piece collection formed from a conversation in which a friend of John’s told him that he had recently been to Nevada and had seen at a remote crossroads, a white vehicle with red and blue lights and the Nevada state seal on the door. Above the door, instead of the words State Police, he saw the words Brand Inspector. He had thought of McPhee and what a reporter might learn if they spent a few weeks in that vehicle. The same day the author departed from New Jersey to Nevada. The contents of this book perfectly reflect the variety in the span of John Mcphee’s work - pieces that have in common essentially the fact that they are about real people and real places. The longest piece, titled “The Gravel Page'',  is about forensic geology. Formed from insights in science, and how they are used to solve major crimes and puzzles on an even greater scale. The shortest piece, titled “Rinard Manheim '', is an experimental story on an auction of exotic cars, in which the interviewee takes over the narrative while McPhee is confined to brackets. Unlikely items such as the virgin forest in central New Jersey, a blind writer-professor working at a computer and a mountain of forty-four million scrap tires in California shape the scenes of other pieces. “Travels of the Rock'' ends the book, describing a day in which the State of Massachusetts had to call a mason to repair the nation’s most hallowed lithic relic. McPhee stood in the pit with the mason and watched the public leaning on the railings above. 

First Edition Identification and Notes

This book was first published in 1997 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York. This edition is hardcover with 216 pages and has decorated covered boards along with black stamping on the front board and spine. 


Other Collectible or Notable Editions

New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997. Uncorrected proof in a softcover format. 

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Irons in the Fire

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"Irons in the Fire" (essay) in New Yorker (December 20, 1993)

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Irons in the Fire

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Irons in the Fire

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Irons in the Fire

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Irons in the Fire

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