Anywayz, my subscription to TNR was just a couple mouseclicks away 'til I got my TNRArts email newsletter:
The Family Man
by Christopher Benfey
Post date 10.22.05 | Issue date 10.31.05
During the half-century since his death in 1955, James Agee has maintained a saintly aura, though it remains unclear just what sort of martyrdom he suffered. He had in excess what used to be called "advantages." Born into comfortable circumstances in Tennessee in 1909, he was educated at Exeter and Harvard and employed by the Luce empire at Fortune and Time. Among his closest and most loyal friends were influential editors and publishers, many of whom he had known at school.
Tall and rangy, Agee was (as photographs attest) spectacularly good-looking, attractive to women and to men. As a writer, he was a quick study and a dazzling stylist, adept at many forms and many voices. His vices were those of his generation: alcohol, womanizing, a marauding egotism. Not quite a poète maudit--where is the curse in a Harvard education or a Luce paycheck?--Agee settled for the lesser role of the bad boy in powerful organizations; he had a temper tantrum when the Fortune editors tampered with his piece on the cultivation of orchids.
And yet the sense of martyrdom persists. His friend and Time colleague Robert Fitzgerald called the callous on Agee's right middle finger "one of his stigmata as a writer."...
You gotta be kidding me. I dunno who James Agee was, and I'm sure I would have found his spectacularly good-looking tall and rangy self attractive, but I hope he rots in hell, one not-quite-a-poète maudit to another. (And if Hunter Baker messes with my upcoming piece on hydrangeas, he's going to get some C4 up his wazoo, not some lame middle finger.)
I ain't no martyr.
And oh, yeah, TNR, you can forget about my 60 bucks, you godless bastards.