Cotton Tenants: With John Summers, Adam Haslett, and Daniel Thomas Davis

Tuesday 04 June, 2013
7pm, $0

McNally Jackson
52 Prince Street

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The origins of James Agee's and Walker Evans’s famed  prose symphony about three farming families in Alabama at the height of the Depression, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, date back to an unpublished assignment for Fortune magazine in 1936. Fifty years after Agee’s death, a trove of his manuscripts uncovered a typescript labeled “Cotton Tenants," the pages of which reveal the 30,000-word report. Published here for the first time with thirty of Walker Evans’s photos, Cotton Tenants documents the lives of three families struggling through poverty. As the novelist Adam Haslett writes in the introduction, this never before seen material from Agee and Evans represents “a poet’s brief for the prosecution of economic and social injustice,” as relevant today as it was then. 

John Summers is editor-in-chief of The Baffler magazine, author of Every Fury on Earth and editor of Cotton Tenants: Three Families by James Agee and Walker Evans (Melville House) and other books of cultural criticism.

Adam Haslett is the author of the novel Union Atlantic and the short story collection You Are Not a Stranger Here, a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award. His books have been translated into nineteen languages and his journalism and fiction have appeared in The Financial Times, Esquire, New York Magazine, The New Yorker, The Nation, and The Atlantic Monthly.  He lives in New York City.   

Daniel Thomas Davis is a composer who works in a wide range of musical media - from symphony orchestras to Appalachian fiddle bands to film scores. His concert music has been performed by organizations such as the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, London Sinfonietta and cellist Lynn Harrell, and at venues such as Carnegie Hall and London's Royal Opera House. He has received honors, awards and fellowships from BMI, ASCAP, the Bogliasco Foundation, the Yaddo Colony, and the British Government.   


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