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James Agee: Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, A Death in the Family, ShorterFiction (Library of America) Hardcover – September 22, 2005


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Product Details

  • Series: Library of America (Book 159)
  • Hardcover: 818 pages
  • Publisher: Library of America (September 22, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1931082812
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931082815
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #629,352 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

James Agee was a writer of singular intensity and extraordinary gifts: compassionate, angry, provocative, and superbly inventive. This volume collects his two prose masterpieces along with other fiction. In Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, Agee invented a new genre to convey his stark vision of the lives of Alabama tenant farmers; a 64-page photo insert reproduces Walker Evans's now iconic photographs from the expanded 1960 edition. In A Death in the Family, his great autobiographical novel presented here for the first time in a newly corrected text, he confronts in intimate emotional detail the impact of his father's death. To these works are added his novella The Morning Watch and three remarkable stories.

About the Author

Michael Sragow, editor, is the film critic for the Baltimore Sun and author of a forthcoming biography of Victor Fleming. His reviews and essays have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers, including Rolling Stone, the San Francisco Examiner, and The New Yorker.

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Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

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It's perhaps this interest of mine in the craft of writing itself that has made FAMOUS MEN so fascinating to me.
Theresa Williams
Agee's writings are true Americana, his prose flows and the reader is made a part of the families about which he writes.
Raymond K. Casteel
Let me be clear... I've not read the present volume though I've read the individual books collected in it years ago.
KS

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Theresa Williams on February 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Lately, I find myself returning to literature written before I was born (1956). When I saw the review of LET US NOW PRAISE FAMOUS MEN in THE NEW YORKER, I became instantly convinced that I should purchase it. I'd known Agee's work since I was 13, when I first read DEATH IN THE FAMILY. I belonged to the Scholastic Book Club and every month my mother gave me change out of her the bottom of her purse so I could buy the books I had faithfully marked on my order form. I was haunted by this book as a teen, and I remain haunted still. I will always believe that few American writers ever achieved anything comparable to the beginning of DEATH IN THE FAMILY, a short italicized introduction which begins: "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." Agee's sensory details throughout DEATH amaze. Another stunning passage reads: "Supper was at six and was over by half past. There was still daylight, shining softly and with a tarnish, like the lining of a shell;" I could go on, because every page of this book is a treasure. But I would like to turn my attention to LET US NOW PRAISE FAMOUS MEN, which I had never read until now.

I will preface my remarks by saying that I am a writer currently very interested in the distinction between fiction and non-fiction writing. Agee addresses this issue by saying: "In a novel, a house or person has his meaning, his existence, entirely through the writer. Here, a house or a person has only the most limited of his meaning through me: his true meaning is much huger." It's perhaps this interest of mine in the craft of writing itself that has made FAMOUS MEN so fascinating to me.
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33 of 38 people found the following review helpful By KS on September 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Let me be clear... I've not read the present volume though I've read the individual books collected in it years ago. "A Death in the Family" remains vivid in my memory, depite almost 30 years since I last read it, and "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men" is an absolute classic.

Though I have not yet received the LOA edition, I was compelled to add a review if only to counter the first reviewer here who is intent on seeing only ideology rather than the writing. If the work is looked at without the rose-colored glasses of (conservative) political correctness, you'll find there is an amazing writer and thinker behind the words.

Just read the works for yourself, not through an ideological smokescreen.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Raymond K. Casteel on March 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This recently reissued collecton of Agee's work includes the brilliant, touching photos of Walker Evans with James Agee, photos made during the Depression Era of the 'thirties. Agee's writings are true Americana, his prose flows and the reader is made a part of the families about which he writes. This compilation belongs in the library of anyone concerned with human feelings in times of hurtin', hunger, and need. If you lived through the time,as I did, you will know it again through Agee's superb reflections on it.
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