The Pine Barrens Background

The Pine Barrens Background

The Pine Barrens is a novel written by John McPhee, an American writer largely considered one of the leading influences of creative nonfiction. It was published in 1968, and is about the New Jersey Pine Barrens, a forested area spanning over several counties in NJ. It was one of McPhee's earlier works.

The Pine Barrens is written in a nonlinear narrative style. The book has nine sections, each witnessing the Pine Barrens in a different perspective. For example, in the first installment, "The Woods from Hog Wallow", McPhee introduces the forests and gives basic information about the land and the people who live in the area. However, in a later chapter, "The Separate World", McPhee delves into the more macabre side of the Pine Barrens' history, talking about the rumors of savagery and brutality that occurred in the area. During the 1900's, people of the Pine Barrens were stereotyped as illiterate, drunk, and incestuous animals, almost primitive in nature. McPhee talks about the Pine Barrens from every which angle, leaving the reader with a deeply comprehensive overview of the forests.

McPhee's books are praised for their narrative creativity, as well as thoroughness; it is clear he has researched the area extensively. The Pine Barrens was well-received by critics, and though is not one of his most prominent works, is considered a classic example of his remarkable talent. He is currently a (very famed) nonfiction writing professor at Princeton University.

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