The genesis of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men is well-known. In the summer of 1936, James Agee and Walker Evans completed an assignment, given to them by Fortune, to interview and photograph tenant farmers in Alabama, but the story was killed. This was the best outcome: Agee turned his notes from the trip into something else entirely.
In the seemingly quiet, fictional farming town of Krafton—where Alan Heathcock’s debut collection, Volt, is set—misery abounds. Some emotions—whether in life or in Volt—run so deep that they lack expression. Scenes unfold as family members, friends, and townspeople of the victims continue searching for meaning, understanding, and solace. A few find it; most don’t.
In We The Animals, asemi-autobiographical novella, Justin Torres explores his childhood through several short chapters, arranged chronologically and bound by a loose narrative thread. Torres’s barely fictionalized narrator and his two older brothers are a pack of wild animals, “lost boys,” who tumble and whoop and tear through youth.
Poet Clifford Bernier’s first book won the Gival Press Poetry Award, landing $1,000 in his pocket. The idea for the musical parts of The Silent Art came to Bernier while he was sitting on stage after a weekly open mic he hosted that featured a lot of improvisational music: his book is the jazz-music experience in poetry.
“It is said the siesta is one of the only gifts the Europeans brought to South America, but I imagine the Brazilians could have figured out how to sleep in the afternoon without having to endure centuries of murder and enslavement.” —Dr. Annik Swenson