In some piece or other, early on, I said of a person I was writing about that he had a “sincere” mustache. This brought Bingham, manuscript in hand, out of his office and down the hall to mine, as I had hoped it would. A sincere mustache, Mr. McPhee, a sincere mustache? What does that mean? Was I implying that it is possible to have an insincere mustache?
I said I could not imagine anything said more plainly.
For the New Yorker, John McPhee writes about the difficulty of writing across different cultures, different generations, and even different beliefs about whether or not a mustache can be “sincere.”