Oranges by John McPhee

Browser review

Fri, Oct 21, 2016, 17:29


Book Title:


John McPhee

Daunt Books

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John McPhee of The New Yorker wrote about oranges in the late 1960s. It’s a story of old-style cigar-chomping citrus barons, sunburned pickers and new-style scientific boffins. The latter’s innovations led to the modern flood of orange concentrate. McPhee researches, with his characteristic journalistic energy and with great affection, Florida’s two main orange regions: the high-producing Ridge and the high-quality Indian River. His writing is so vivid that we can smell the ripe oranges, or is it the pulp from the concentrate factories? One wonders what McPhee would make of the recent steep decline in demand for concentrate or of the bacterial plague of “citrus greening” that has decimated Florida’s groves. Amid McPhee’s delightful delving into the place of the orange in history and folklore is the tale of “mournful Isabella who cuts off the head of her dead lover, buries it in an ample pot, plants sweet basil above it and irrigates the herbs exclusively with rosewater, orange-flower water and her tears.”