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Non-Fiction Book Club to discuss "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men" by James Agee and Walker Evans – Thursday, May 1, 2014 at 6:30PM


Originally published 75 years ago, this non fiction boundary pusher still ranks as one of the most innovative American journalistic endeavor. In the summer of 1936, James Agee and Walker Evans set out on assignment from Fortune magazine to document the daily lives of sharecroppers in the South. They lived with three different families and documented their daily existence with photographs, interviews, and extensive recording of minute details from the sharecroppers lives and experiences. The resulting work was not only a minute examination of the sharecropper’s lives but a meditation on the nature of non-fiction and the possibilities for the form of nonfiction. Agee inserts himself in the narrative with stream of conscious screes on the process of being a “spy” in the lives of others. The work was so unwieldy and odd that Fortune magazine passed on publishing it and released it to the authors a few years later. They self-published it in 1939 with little fanfare. It didn’t really gain any critical acclaim until the new journalism movement of the 1960’s when it was heralded as a work before it’s time. It’s not the easiest book to get through but there are some beautiful passages and heartbreaking images along the way of Agee’s brutally honest search for truth.

The Pollard Library Non-Fiction book club happens on the first Thursday of every month. The discussions are free and open to the public. For information about future titles please visit our webpage. Copies of books to be discussed are available to borrow on a first come first serve basis at the Information Desk on the 1st Floor of the Library. Or you can reserve your copy by calling 978-674-4121. Please have your library card ready. Happy Reading!