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Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, A Death in the…
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Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, A Death in the Family, Shorter Fiction

by James Agee

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This is a collection of Agee short stories, "A Death in the Family" and the monumental essay "Now Let Us Praise Famous Men". The latter essay focuses on the circumstances of three poor sharecropping families in Alabama in 1934. The photos that are included with the essay, taken by Walker Evans, are famous. The essay itself is overwritten, by contemporary standards, but full of moving and poetic detail. For example, Agee likens the straps of the men's bib overalls to the harness of a mule. I was captivated by the meticulous detail Agee shares in documenting simple things like the calendars used to decorate the homes, the women's daily dress made of feed sacks, the way the women use their husbands' cast off shoes. It creates a memorable vision of a difficult way of life that, fortunately, has all but disappeared in this country. ( )
  theageofsilt | Feb 4, 2013 |
includes, along with the original walker evans photographs (beautifully reproduced by the way .. i was concerned) 'let us know praise famous men' ... and also 'a death in the family', and some additional short fiction.

the short essay, 'knoxville: summer 1915', that is usually a preface to the posthumously published 'a death in the family' takes my breath away with its carefully observed love and humor and human caring .. family and feelings and the awesomeness of life and death. this is one of my favorite lines of literature, the first line of this essay "We are talking now of summer evenings in Knoxville, Tennessee in the time that I lived there so successfully disguised to myself as a child."

Let that roll around in your noggin for a while .. then come to this volume for more.
  msteketee | Aug 17, 2009 |
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