Saturday, November 27, 2010

Let us now praise confusion

American writer James Agee was born on this day in 1909. He died in 1955, after a couple of heart attacks.

His most famous book is Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, a work of photographs and prose about sharecroppers in Alabama. The book sold only several hundred copies until being remaindered, but it is now regarded as a 20th-century masterpiece.

He was also an influential film critic -- "Several tons of dynamite are set off in this picture - none of it under the right people," he wrote about one film – and he is a credited writer on two great films, The Night of the Hunter and The African Queen.

In 1957 Agee's novel, A Death in the Family, was published posthumously and in 1958 won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

Agee struggled with alcohol and other demons his entire life. "The mere attempt to examine my own confusion," he wrote, "would consume volumes."

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