November 20, 2006


Caption: If this writer could write like James Agee, he could praise famous goats.

El Cabrero wants to be like James Agee when he grows up. Except for the self-destructive part. I've already got that covered.

To be more specific, I want to be able to write like him. If I could do that, I'd call this blog Let Us Now Praise Famous Goats instead of the Goat Rope.

Like El Cabrero, Agee was a hard drinking, left leaning, cradle Episcopalian writer born in Appalachia. Except he was really good.

It's hard to believe, but he once had a gig working for Fortune magazine under Henry Luce. I don't think the magazine people knew what to do with him. In the 1930s, he persuaded Luce to let hIm and photographer Walker Evans go to rural Alabama to stay among and write about sharecroppers.

The trip didn't make good business magazine copy but it did result in the classic book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. Agee being Agee, the book probably does not contain a whole lot of reliable information about the sharecropper's families but it does contain the musings that adventure inspired.

Over the next few days, Goat Rope will feature a Greatest Hits selection from that book.

Oh yeah, the pictures aren't bad either.

Stay tuned.


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