The History of the Future: American Essays

Edward McPherson. Coffee House, $16.95 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-56689-467-8
This collection of seven geography-themed essays from McPherson (The Backwash Squeeze and Other Improbable Facts) is both an entertaining exploration of Americana and a critical look at how people form memories. His knowledge of esoteric and diverse topics, such as the intricate science behind the atom bomb and the pop culture phenomenon of the soap opera Dallas, is on display in each spiraling essay. The collection begins in Dallas, discussing how the assassination of J.F.K. looms over both the city and its eponymous TV show. In an essay on St. Louis, after a detailed description of the architecture behind the Gateway Arch monument, McPherson declares the “balance [of the arch] an illusion,” nodding to his theme of the illusory border separating past from present and history from future. The most searing and poignant essay of the collection is “Chasing the Boundary: Boom and Bust on the High Prairie,” which explores how North Dakota’s recent oil boom brought thousands of itinerant workers to an otherwise stark landscape. McPherson goes deep into his subject matter as well as into the land. He descends through a Brooklyn manhole into what is considered the world’s first subway, and into a contemporary bomb shelter in L.A. This collection brims with subdued, self-aware brilliance. Agent: Emma Parry, Janklow & Nesbit. (May)
Reviewed on: 02/20/2017
Release date: 05/01/2017
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Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-56689-476-0
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