Fri 9 Jul, 2004 01:49 pm
Started reading this book, by James Agee and Walker Evans, about tenant farmers in the depression era South. Two of my buddies recommended it.
100 pages in (300 to go), I have to say that Agee is walking a thin line and I fluctuate between finding it the most pompous and overwritten piece of crap ever, and finding stretches where the pages turn fast and the prose is working and I am engaged in his project.
Has anyone else read this, have any encouraging/disparaging words? Should I keep reading?
Hey, Gargamel. I remember reading the book under similar circunstances-- its being recommended by friends --, a few years back, and I found the majority of the work lacking and indeed pompous. It reads like the words of a poetaster throughout; others may disagree, but I find it a work that tries much and achieves little..
Thanks for the second opinion.
What I find particularly offensive is that, while the author is desperate to identify with the poor farmers of the South, and purports to shrug off elitists and the elitist art snobs of New York (I detected this in his introduction), his language caters not to common people, but to the artists of his time. He's trying to be like Gertrude Stein, or Joyce. His language comes off as elitist, but only considering the goals he sets for himself from page one, considering the content.
Furthermore he says, at best, his book might persuade his reader to take action to help the conditions of farmers in the South. Well, then, it might have been wise to speak to such an audience in their language, not in abstraction.
I can dig such language in the correct context. Not in this case, though.
I just dumped him for Gogol.
No problem, Gargamel! I doubt that you will regret it!
Which Gogol are you reading?
Yay! I love 'Dead Souls' even more than I loved his 'St. Petersburg Diaries.' I'm not sure whether I preferred it to 'Diaries of a madman.' Probably; it is amazing. Gogol played around quite a bit with words, but not in the pompous way of 'Let us now..'