March 1, 2023

The exhibition and sale of paintings by artist Cliff Tisdell honoring the late Southern writer Carson McCullers has been extended through the end of March at Labyrinth Books, 122 Nassau Street. Labyrinth owner Dorothea von Moltke and Tisdell hope to stir interest in McCullers’ work for those who might not be familiar with her.

The Delaware Valley Bead Society (DVBS) will sponsor a niobium workshop, “Resist Me If You Can,” with Marti Brown, founding member and president of the DVBS on Saturday, March 11, 2023, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (allows time for lunch – BYO or order out) at the Raritan Township Police Station, Municipal Courtroom, at One Municipal Drive, Building #2, Flemington. Pre-registration is required; the registration deadline is Saturday, March 4. more

The Princeton University Art Museum has announced the appointment of Jun Nakamura as assistant curator of prints and drawings. Nakamura joins the museum from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where he was the Suzanne Andrée Curatorial Fellow in the Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs. He began his appointment at Princeton on February 20.

At Princeton, Nakamura will work with the museum’s extensive collections of more than 15,000 prints and drawings, comprising European, British, Latin American, and North American works from the 15th century to the present. In addition to organizing exhibitions and gallery installations, Nakamura will initiate scholarly and public programs, grow the collections, and cultivate new supporters. more

“WOMAN AND BUTTERFLY”: This painting by Angela Arrey-Wastavino is featured in “The Women’s Caucus for Art,” on view March 14 through April 15 in the Main Gallery at Artworks Trenton. An opening reception is on Saturday, March 18 from 6 to 8 p.m.

With its upcoming exhibitions, Artworks Trenton celebrates Women’s History Month and amplifies the voices of creatives Amy Louise Lee and the members of the Women’s Caucus for Art. These two exhibitions represent the mission of the organization, which is to promote artistic diversity by fostering creativity, learning, and appreciation of the arts. From March 14 through April 15, “The Women’s Caucus for Art” will be presented in the Main Gallery alongside Amy Louise Lee’s show, “Metal Lucidity,” in the Community Gallery. An opening reception is on March 18 from 6 to 8 p.m. more

February 22, 2023

By Stuart Mitchner

Why end the last column in February with Carson McCullers, who had the audacity to call her first novel, written when she had barely come of age, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter? True, last Sunday was her 116th birthday. But consider the subjects usually associated with this month  — Valentine’s Day; Black History Month; the birth of James Joyce, whose Leopold Bloom “mutely craves to adore”; the death of John Keats, who “always made an awkward bow.” What about the presidents? McCullers’s magnificent title would surely have had resonance for Lincoln, who once said of Anne Rutledge, “My heart is buried in the grave with that dear girl.” And for Washington, born on this date in 1732? According to the Library of Congress (“Presidents as Poets”), of the two love poems he wrote in his teens, one begins, “Oh Ye Gods why should my Poor Resistless Heart / Stand to oppose thy might and Power” and ends “That in an enraptured Dream I may / In a soft lulling sleep and gentle repose / Possess those joys denied by Day.”

“White and Black Humanity”

After making Black history with the publication of his novel Native Son (1940), Richard Wright reviewed The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter in the August 5, 1940 New Republic. It’s a stunning notice wherein he celebrates “the astonishing humanity that enables a white writer, for the first time in Southern fiction, to handle Negro characters with as much ease and justice as those of her own race. This cannot be accounted for stylistically or politically; it seems to stem from an attitude toward life which enables Miss McCullers to rise above the pressures of her environment and embrace white and black humanity in one sweep of apprehension and tenderness.”

Should Wright’s reference to “the first time in Southern fiction” bring to mind characters like Dilsey in William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury (1929), Wright mentions a “quality of despair” in McCullers that he finds “more natural and authentic” than the same quality in Faulkner. He also credits her for creating  characters who “live in a world more completely lost than any Sherwood Anderson ever dreamed of.” As for Ernest Hemingway, Wright praises McCullers for describing “incidents of death and attitudes of stoicism in sentences whose neutrality makes Hemingway’s terse prose seem warm and partisan by comparison.”

Wright’s eloquent appreciation, with its reference to “the violent colors of the life” depicted with “a sheen of weird tenderness,” looms above the general acclaim that greeted The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. As if he understood the potential for misreading and mischaracterizing an unknown young author’s first work, Wright closes with an advisory: “Whether you will want to read the book depends upon the extent to which you value the experience of discovering the stale and familiar terms of everyday life bathed in a rich and strange meaning, devoid of pettiness and sentimentality.” more

“ADELE OF THE PRESCHOOL CROWD”: That’s what Princeton native Laurie Berkner, who will perform at the annual New Jersey Lottery Festival of Ballooning, has been called. Opening day is July 28.

Best-selling children’s recording artist Laurie Berkner , a native of Princeton, will headline this year’s children’s concert at the 40th annual New Jersey Lottery Festival of Ballooning. The three-day festival at Solberg Airport in Readington begins July 28. Berkner will perform that day at 1:30 p.m.

Berkner delivered the Festival’s first-ever kids’ concert in 2017 and has become a Festival staple. With an average of more than 22 million monthly streams and millions of CDs and DVDs sold, her songs have become classics for children worldwide. Her debut DVD, which went quadruple platinum, was the first-ever indie children’s music DVD to enter Billboard’s Top Music Video chart at number one. She has released 15 best-selling albums including the recently released Another Laurie Berkner Christmas, was the first recording artist ever to perform in music videos on Nick Jr., and has authored a number of picture books based on her songs.  more

RETURNING ROCKERS: America, the classic rock band best known for “A Horse With No Name,” comes to the State Theatre New Jersey in New Brunswick on March 3.

State Theatre New Jersey presents classic rock band America on Friday, March 3 at 8 p.m.

Celebrating their 53rd anniversary, America was founded by Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell, who quickly rose to the top of the charts with their signature song “A Horse with No Name.” America’s current members are the original leads Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell, alongside touring musicians Richard Campbell, Ryland Steen, and Steve Fekete.

Signed by Warner Bros in 1971, the British American rock band released their first self-titled debut album the following year, including “A Horse With No Name” and “I Need You.” Over the next several years the band would continue to release hit songs “Muskrat Love,” “Tin Man,” “Lonely People,” and more.  more

CELEBRATING BLACK COMPOSERS: Tenor Lawrence Brownlee, left, and pianist Kevin J. Miller perform at Princeton University’s Richardson Auditorium on March 8.

Tenor Lawrence Brownlee returns to Princeton University Concerts (PUC) to premiere a new program, “Rising,” on Wednesday, March 8, at 7:30 p.m. at Richardson Auditorium.

Alongside pianist Kevin J. Miller, Brownlee will perform newly commissioned songs by Black composers, including Jasmine Barnes, Margaret Bonds, Shawn Okpebholo, and Damien Sneed, which utilize texts drawn from Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, Georgia Douglas Johnson, James Weldon Johnson, and other great Black writers of the Harlem Renaissance.

“These past years have been a trial, both for humanity as a whole, and the African American population here in the United States,” said Brownlee, “but, through all these many challenges we have faced, I have also seen moments of strength, inspiration, hope, and great beauty. It is those themes of uplift, elevation, and rebirth that we have tried to focus on with this new project ‘Rising,’ taking poems from the giants of the Harlem Renaissance, and working with some of today’s most talented African American composers, to create something that speaks not just to our struggles, but to our triumphs.” more

SOLOIST IN A WORLD PREMIERE: Violinist William Harvey performs with the Princeton Symphony Orchestra in his “Seven Decisions of Gandhi,” at Richardson Auditorium March 11 and 12. (Photo by Isai Pacheco)

On Saturday, March 11 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, March 12 at 4 p.m., the Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO) presents the world premiere of composer William Harvey’s Seven Decisions of Gandhi. Written for violin and orchestra, the work was dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi’s granddaughter Ela on the occasion of her 80th birthday.

The composer is soloist, accompanied by Dibyarka Chatterjee on tabla. The program also includes Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Op. 74 “Pathétique.” Guest conductor Sameer Patel is on the podium for both concerts at Richardson Auditorium, on the campus of Princeton University.

An admirer of Gandhi, Harvey was intrigued by the fact that Gandhi was once a violinist like himself, and this sparked an idea for composing a piece about the peaceful revolutionary. “Had Gandhi decided to stick with the violin, world history might be very different. This gave me the idea that a violin concerto about his life could be based on decisions that made him the international nonviolence icon he is today,” he said. “When I met his granddaughter in Durban, South Africa, in 2017, I ran this idea by her, and she gave the project her blessing. During the pandemic, I finished the concerto just in time to dedicate it to her for her 80th birthday on July 1, 2020. The concerto will hopefully inspire us all to make decisions as well as Gandhi did, and to choose nonviolence and principled thought in all aspects of our lives.” more

“WINTER LIGHT”: This oil on paper work by Nancy Lloyd is part of “Winter’s Hearth,” on view through March 26 at Ficus Above, 235 Nassau Street. The exhibition also includes works by Annelies van Dommelen and Anabel Bouza. Student artist Emily Bechtel is showing her art in the Ficus Café downstairs.

“Winter’s Hearth,” featuring works by Nancy Lloyd, Annelies van Dommelen, and Anabel Bouza, is on view at Ficus Above Restaurant & Gallery, 235 Nassau Street, through March 26. A reception is on Sunday, February 26 from 3 to 5 p.m. with small bites, refreshments, and music.

Lloyd has been painting with oils since 1993 and enjoys all types of subject matter. She also works in encaustics, collagraphs, monoprints, and collages. Lloyd works with oils and translucent mediums to create landscapes and abstract paintings. Her own art studio in Bucks County, Pa., is nestled in the rolling hills of a tranquil setting with nature paths and tall grasses which lend to the gentle, soft nature of her style. You can almost hear the wind as her brushstrokes and trees bend and sway with each intentional brushstroke.

She has received numerous awards, notably the Stamford Pulmonary Associates Award for the oil painting “A Quiet Moment” at the 55th Annual Art of the Northeast USA held by the Silvermine Guild Galleries of New Canaan, Conn., and the New Vision Award of Miniature Prints in Hong Kong for the monoprint “Turtle and Fish” at the Hong Kong Visual Arts Festival. Her work can be found in collections worldwide. more

ART AT OLD BARRACKS: The Old Barracks Museum in Trenton will host a month-long gallery show showcasing works that best exemplify Trenton in both modern and historical context. The deadline for art submissions is March 17. (Photo by William M. Brown Photography)

The Old Barracks Museum is celebrating Trenton artists and Trenton art in a month-long gallery show hosted in the historic 18th century building. The museum will showcase both the art and artists of Trenton with works that best exemplify Trenton in both modern and historical context. The show will hang during upcoming events to allow the public to experience these works throughout the month.

The exhibit will run from April 7 to May 14. Deadline for art submissions is March 17.  more

“MARNI’S EYES”: This mosaic by Carol Mastroianni is part of “Visual Artists of Princeton Manor,” on view at the Plainsboro Public Library March 1 through April 1. The exhibition features 26 works by amateur artists who are residents of Princeton Manor in Kendall Park.

A group show by the “Visual Artists of Princeton Manor” will open at the Plainsboro Public Library on March 1. Scheduled to run through April 1, the exhibition will feature 26 diverse works by serious amateur artists, all of whom are residents of Princeton Manor, an active adult community in Kendall Park.

The artists’ group, which numbers 25, used to hold regular shows at the Manor before the pandemic, according to Co-Chair Sadi Misrahi.  During the pandemic it held “art crawls,” during which participating artists displayed their work outside their homes. There have been no group shows outside the Manor, although some members have shown their work individually. “We are very excited to be exhibiting together for the first time outside the community,” said Misrahi. more

YOUTH ART AT GOURGAUD GALLERY: This work by Cranbury School student Isabella Brescia will be featured in a youth art exhibition on view March 4 to March 29 at Gourgaud Gallery in Cranbury. An opening reception is on March 4 from 1 to 3 p.m.

National Youth Art Month is celebrated each March. Cranbury School will be celebrating youth art at the Gourgaud Gallery in Cranbury with an exhibition on view March 4 to March 29. An opening reception is on March 4 from 1 to 3 p.m.

Stacey Crannage, art teacher at the Cranbury School, has chosen art pieces from students in kindergarten through eighth grade to be showcased. Criteria for the displayed pieces to be included were technique, originality, and the student’s personality shining through. Student artwork will include paintings, drawings, and clay sculptures, among others.

Gourgaud Gallery is located in Town Hall, 23A North Main Street, Cranbury, and is free and open to the public Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

For more information, visit

February 15, 2023

By Stuart Mitchner

Watching the HBO series The Last of Us, viewers saw computer generated images of a devastated Boston. Last Sunday night it was the shell of Kansas City. So it goes in February 2023, with ruined cities and a fungus-among-us plague conceived during a real world pandemic that killed millions, and now an earthquake with a death toll rising to 37,000 and counting has struck northwestern Syria and southeastern Turkey, where Antakya, formerly Antioch, was among the stricken cities.

According to Friday’s New York Times (“ ‘No More Antakya’: Turks Say Quake Wiped Out a City, and a Civilization”), Antioch was founded in 300 B.C., the modern city “built atop layers and layers of the ruins of long-gone civilizations.” Which inadvertently echoes Yeats’s “Lapis Lazuli” where “All things fall apart and are built again.” Meanwhile I’m rebuilding a memory that begins in the back of a pickup truck with a Turkish kid from the Antayka region who had spent the previous year in Kokomo, Indiana. Since I was from Indiana, we had a lot to talk about.

“Ancient Antioch”

As soon as the Indiana connection had been made, the boy talked his surly uncle into driving 20 miles out of the way so they could drop me off in “ancient Antioch,” as he continued calling Antakya. He promised to “show me around.” more

All of the proceeds from a concert by the Lviv National Philharmonic Orchestra of Ukraine, taking place at the State Theatre New Jersey in New Brunswick on February 17, go toward the Ukrainian Red Cross Society and classical and education programming at the theater.  The conductor for the program of works by Grieg, Beethoven, and Stankovych is Theodor Kuchar and the piano soloist is Oksana Rapita. Visit for ticket information.

On Sunday, March 5, at 3 p.m., female Princeton University music performance faculty and members of the Princeton University Glee Club and the Princeton Playhouse Choir comprising the Richardson Chamber Players will present “March of the Women,” a program of chamber works by female composers in Richardson Auditorium on the Princeton University campus.

The concert will include a broad range of works by Clara Wieck-Schumann, Nadia Boulanger, Jennifer Higdon, Valerie Coleman, and Dame Ethel Smyth.

The program takes its name from Smyth’s song “The March of the Women” (1911), which the composer dedicated to the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU). The composition later became the anthem of the women’s suffrage movement, and the WSPU’s newspaper described it as “at once a hymn and a call to battle.” Though this piece and the others on the program may have reached wide audiences during the women’s suffrage movement, sung at rallies and even through prison hunger strikes, these compositions and their female composers often remain overlooked. Richardson Chamber Players is proud to shine the spotlight on these works. more

COMEDY AT KELSEY: The cast of “Sordid Lives,” a humorous take on family dysfunction, coming to Mercer County Community College February 17-26. (Photo courtesy of MTM Players)

MTM Players presents the comedy Sordid Lives at Kelsey Theatre on the campus of Mercer County Community College in West Windsor on weekends, February 17–26.

Written by Del Shores, the play is set in the small town of Winters, Texas, where a large family arrives and tries to come to grips with the death of their matriarch, Peggy. Their arrival in the small town causes all sorts of comedic chaos. Sordid Lives is Shores’ fourth play. It won several awards, and was adapted into a successful film.

Performances are Friday and Saturday, February 17 and 18, 24 and 25 at 8 p.m.; and February 19 and 26 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20-$22. Visit or call (609) 570-3333.

ANIMATION: A still from “An Ostrich Told Me the World is Fake and I Think I Believe It,” among the Oscar-nominated shorts at Mill Hill Playhouse in Trenton.

Trenton Film Society will be showing Oscar-nominated short films in documentary, live-action, and animation categories on Friday, February 24 at 6:30 p.m., and Saturday, February 25 at 1, 3, and 6 p.m. at the Mill Hill Playhouse, 205 East Front Street in Trenton.

Note that, due to a previously scheduled presentation by the Passage Theatre at Mill Hill Playhouse, the Oscar Shorts program will not be shown the same weekend as the Oscar broadcast on Sunday, March 12.

Tickets are $20 for the jumbo showing (166 minutes) of documentaries on Friday, and $12 for a single program or $20 for an animated and live-action double feature on Saturday. Complimentary snacks and drinks will be served between programs. Participants will get a ballot for marking choices for the Oscar winner. Correct guesses for winners in each category will be entered into a drawing for an all-access pass to the Trenton Film Festival in June. more

SAXOPHONE SOLOIST: Steven Banks is among the guest artists planned for the Princeton Symphony Orchestra’s 2023-2024 season. (Photo by Chris Lee)

The Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO) has planned a roster of concerts and guest artists for its 2023-24 season. Included are 2022 Avery Fisher Career Grant winner, saxophonist Steven Banks; 2022 Grammy Award winners, violinist Jennifer Koh and Metropolitan Opera star/Princeton University graduate Anthony Roth Costanzo; pianist Sara Davis Buechner; Westminster Symphonic Choir led by James Jordan, and 2023 Grammy Award-winning trio Time For Three.

Music Director Rossen Milanov has programmed works by seven living composers including Pulitzer Prize and Grammy Award winners Caroline Shaw, Kevin Puts, and John Luther Adams. Shaw was a graduate student at Princeton University and occasional second violinist with the PSO. Others with local ties are Princeton native composer Sarah Kirkland Snider and Princeton University doctoral candidate in music composition Nina Shekhar. The PSO will also play works by Missy Mazzoli and Gregory Spears, and modern classics by Henri Tomasi, William Dawson, and Marin Goleminov. more

“WINDMILL AT INGHAM SPRING”: This oil on canvas work by Charlie Sahner is featured in his solo exhibition in the gallery at the Bank of Princeton in Lambertville. The show runs through the end of February.

New Hope, Pa., artist Charlie Sahner is in the spotlight this month in the gallery at the Bank of Princeton in Lambertville.

A former local store owner and journalist, New Hope resident Sahner returned to painting last year after a 15-year hiatus. On display in the gallery are more than two dozen recent works in oil covering landscape, still life, portrait, and figure.

“Living in New York City in the’90s, I came across Art Student Showcase, Paul Toner’s gallery just east of Soho, specializing in work from students and teachers at the New York Academy of Art,” said Sahner. “Without formal training, I began painting in that academic, realistic style, then hung around the New York Studio School, with its atelier approach. more

“DIVA 3”: African mask-making in celebration of Black History Month is among the upcoming workshops at the Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie Mansion in Cadwalader Park, Trenton. (Art by Janis Purcell)

Kids and adults alike are invited to get creative with workshops at Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie Mansion. The February and March lineup features African mask-making in celebration of Black History Month, a fun way to make a chunky blanket without knitting needles, and a four-part series in which iPhone users will take their iPhone photography and editing skills to the next level. Participants will find plenty of parking adjacent to the museum’s building.

African Mask-Making: A Workshop for Kids and Families — Celebrate Black History Month at Trenton City Museum with a hands-on workshop to make your own traditional-style African mask on Saturday, February 18 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Free admission; materials and snacks provided. Supported in part by a grant from the Trenton Arts Fund of Princeton Area Community Foundation.  more

SUMMER ART CAMPS: The Center for Contemporary Art in Bedminster offers weekly in-person camps for children ages 5-15 from June 15 through September 1. All sessions are led by professional and creative teaching artists.

Registration is underway for Summer Art Camps at The Center for Contemporary Art in Bedminster. Eleven weekly in-person Summer Art Camps, from June 19–September 1, are offered for children ages 5-15. The Center’s Summer Art Camps are designed to stimulate creative expression through projects and fun activities that change each week. All sessions are led by professional and creative teaching artists. Small classes, social distancing, daily sanitizing, and other protocols are in place and enforced to keep children safe.

Each week children ages 5-8 and 9-11 will spend the morning exploring drawing, painting, collage and other mixed media projects, and pottery in the ceramics studio. In the afternoon, campers ages 9-11 will explore a wide range of subjects in depth such as drawing, painting, pottery, upcycled art, cartooning, manga/anime and more.

Teens ages 12-15 may choose to spend their mornings or afternoons in an intensive art camp studying a single subject.

The Center will also offer camps for children with autism spectrum disorder and other special needs on Saturdays from June 24-July 29.

The Center for Contemporary Art is located at 2020 Burnt Mills Road in Bedminster. For more information or to register, visit or call (908) 234-2345.

“PORTRAIT OF A DREAMER”: This painting by Delia McHugh of Central Bucks High School West was awarded Best in Show at the “10th Annual Youth Art Exhibition” at Phillips’ Mill in New Hope, Pa. The exhibition runs through February 19.

The Phillips’ Mill Community Association recognized student award winners at the “10th Annual Youth Art Exhibition” Awards Ceremony in its historic Mill in New Hope, Pa., surrounded by 140 works of art by students from area high schools. The show runs through Sunday, February 19.

Kenoka Wagner, a prolific artist and owner of the 2nd Floor Art Gallery in Revere, Pa., was the juror of awards selection for this year’s show.  A mixed media artist, painter, printmaker and sculptor, Wagner said, “There were so many amazing, inspired works in this year’s ‘Youth Art Exhibition at Phillips’ Mill.’ I wish I could have given them all awards.”

Wagner selected awards in five categories with digital art making a debut this year: Painting, Works on Paper, 3-Dimensional Art, Photography (film and digital), and Digital Art (excluding photography). 

Best in Show honors went to Delia McHugh from Central Bucks High School West for her painting, Portrait of a Dreamer. Wagner said he selected the piece for “its unteachable sensitivity, originality in the use of materials, conveyance of theme, and overall presentation.” more

“WASHITALES”: An exhibition by visual artist Kyoko Ibe is on display in the Hurley Gallery at Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts through March 5. An artists’ talk and book launch is on February 23 at 6 p.m. (Photo by Jon Sweeney)

The Lewis Center for the Arts’ Programs in Theater and Visual Arts at Princeton University, in collaboration with the Department of Art and Archaeology, now presents “Washitales,” an exhibition of work made from traditional Japanese washi paper by renowned visual artist Kyoko Ibe. The exhibition is on view through March 5 in the Hurley Gallery at the Lewis Arts complex on the Princeton campus and is presented in conjunction with the Lewis Center’s theatrical presentation of Felon: An American Washi Tale by Freedom Reads founder, lawyer, and poet Reginald Dwayne Betts, with development and direction by Elise Thoron, on March 2 through 4. Additional events including a book launch of Ibe and Thoron’s The Way of Washi Tales and artists’ talk are planned as part of Ibe’s residency. The exhibition is free and open to the public with no tickets required; performances of Felon require tickets through McCarter Theatre Center.

The set for Felon is designed and created by Ibe from 1,000 squares of “prison paper” that papermaker Ruth Lignen constructed from the clothes of men Betts first met serving time together in prison. Ibe also incorporated letters from men Betts had lived with in prison, friends who were still locked up and with whom he corresponded, helping them find freedom through parole. The paper kites  — “kites” is a slang moniker for letters received from family while in prison —  hang suspended from floor to ceiling in various groupings around the spare stage set. The “Washitales” exhibition in the Hurley Gallery includes work related to the theatrical set for Felon along with other works created by Ibe building on traditional techniques for Japanese hand papermaking. more

February 8, 2023

By Stuart Mitchner

In a November 2022 essay posted on, Santa Fe Institute President David Krakauer refers to SFI member Cormac McCarthy’s “subterranean connections” to James Agee, author of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (1941), “a book that we keep in our library and that Cormac retrieves from time to time to remind us of the intimate connections between language and image, indigence and character, and the multifarious beauty found far from so-called civilized spotlights.” 

I found the phrase “subterranean connections” interesting in relation to the richness of McCarthy’s prose, most recently the striking one-page prologue to The Passenger/Stella Maris (Knopf 2022), now available as a two-volume set. It was while rereading the bravura passage describing Alicia Western’s body hanging among the winter trees that I first noticed intimations of Agee’s prose presence, particularly in lines such as “her hands turned slightly outward like those of certain ecumenical statues whose attitude asks that their history be considered.”

The “multifarious beauty” of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men is reflected in a sharecropper’s mirror in one of the homes Agee and the photographer Walker Evan visited in 1936: “The mirror is so far corrupted that it is rashed with gray, iridescent in parts, and in all its reflections a deeply sad thin zinc-to-platinum, giving to its framings an almost incalculably ancient, sweet, frail, and piteous beauty, such as may be seen in tintypes of family groups among studio furnishings or heard in nearly exhausted jazz records made by very young, insane, devout men who were soon to destroy themselves, in New Orleans, in the early nineteen twenties.”

McCarthy’s prologue to The Passenger ends as the hunter who discovers the body “looked up into those cold enameled eyes glinting blue in the weak winter light. She had tied her dress with a red sash so that she’d be found. Some bit of color in the scrupulous desolation.” more