Here is Walker Evans:
You know some of these photographs probably:
I am not sure that I liked this book much. Well, you can see that from my rating. I think my issue with my own feelings is that I actually should have liked this book a lot because of my slightly more former Socialist leanings. I never would have been a Communist but I would vote for Socialist candidates, but I would like a more established ground-up party than say a certain Senator might otherwise embody.
That said, I found my issue with this book not with its politics (if there actually are any) but with its form. The form of this is reportage on poverty and sharecropping (and maybe race?) based on the observations and interactions between James Agee, Walker Evans, and the various families they might on their journeys.
But this book isn’t about those families: it’s about James Agee writing a book about those families. It’s Nabokov, but it could be. It’s so much about the struggles he has with representation of the lives lived, that out of the 400 pages of text here, 100 is used to describe the physical objects, the houses, and the clothing of the families, 40 pages describes their lives, and the remaining 200+ pages describes James Agee’s personal philosophy of writing, politics, his own sense of self, and whatever else comes to mind.
He ruminates so much on representation that he never gets to it. And so the effect is an accidental ironic rendering of his own ironic rendering of the title.
The “Famous Men” in the title is meant to be ironic because of course he’s not doing that. He’s cataloging the life of men and women and their children who will never be famous. But then he’s not doing that even, he’s praising himself, who is not yet famous, but would become so. His writing is amazing. I loved his one novel, but this book is a kind of beautifully written travesty.
The pictures are really good though.