James Agee James Agee

ink and pencil
1997

My first brush, so to speak, with James Agee came in third grade, in Knoxville, TN (where all the Agees are, of course, from). His great niece tackled me in a classroom aisle and tried to poke out my eye (that's what I thought then and, I guess, what I think now) with a pencil, before the teacher pulled her off me. I still have a little blue tatoo on the left of my forehead.

So much for literary "connections"....?

I subsequently read (and loved, which is sort of odd, given my age at the time) "A Death in the Family" when I was about fifteen. Three years later, I was Sewanee, where Agee had been sent after his father's death, to attend St. Andrews School. Hence, the well-known "Letters from James Agee to Father Flye".

It was sometime during college that my Father and Grandmother decided that I needed to read "And Let Us Now Praise Famous Men".....a book that's stayed with me throughout the years.

These days (and with no disparagement of Agee's actual writings)?....I can't help but regard Agee (the famous "southern" writer, as opposed to the actual writer) is a sort of upper-south, New-Deal-Era-priced Rupert Brooke. That wouldn't, of course, be Agee's fault or any reflection on his actual writing.

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