Emily's Reviews > Let Us Now Praise Famous Men

Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by James Agee
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Reading this book is like hanging on to the back of someone on roller skates racing top-speed down a steep hill, with no brakes. There are few books that explore with such rigor the impossibility -- and necessary ideal -- of perfect perspective, or have the audacity to admit melancholy as an action (albeit an insufficent one), not just a solipsistic response to the aesthetic sufferings of others. The maddening ambivalence of this book, and its self-consuming doubt and belief in what it is doing, underscores the headlong, megalomanical under-confidence of the (whether you like it or not) inimitable prose. This is the only book I can think of that isn't sure if it's a book at all, and yet is more of one than most. Recently, William T. Vollmann tried with "Poor People" to attempt something similar, and equally improbable, but no matter how sincere his intent, it simply didn't have the nerve to fail. Agee is willing.
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Justin Hegstad "This is the only book I can think of that isn't sure if it's a book at all, and yet is more of one than most." That about does it. Well said.


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