By Jean Strouse
Preface by means of Colm Tóibín.
The Jameses are maybe the main striking and individual kin in American highbrow lifestyles. Henry’s novels, celebrated as the most effective within the language, and William’s groundbreaking philosophical and mental works have received those brothers an everlasting position on the middle of the nation’s cultural firmament. much less popular is their enigmatic more youthful sister, Alice. yet as Jean Strouse’s beneficiant, probing, and deeply sympathetic biography exhibits, Alice James used to be a desirable and unprecedented determine in her personal correct. Tormented all through her brief existence through an array of fearful issues, restricted through social conference and inner clash from attaining the worldly good fortune she wanted, Alice was once still a brilliant, witty author, an acute social observer, and as alert, inquiring, and fascinating somebody as her well-known brothers. “The ethical and philosophical questions that Henry wrote up as fiction and William as science,” writes Strouse, “Alice easily lived.”
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Extra resources for Alice James: A Biography
He was running, the Haggard family determined, from the thunder-strike pain of losing his dad, but by their own account it took them far too many years to see it: They knew Jim Haggard’s death hit his youngest hard, of course, but because Merle was a boy who kept things to himself, who chewed frantically on the past like a starving dog gnaws on a bone and all without ever breaking silence on his fears and regrets, it hit him much harder even than the family realized at the time. As Merle spiraled out of their control, the Haggards became increasingly protective, overprotective in Merle’s view, and he resented it.
Flossie got him violin lessons for a time, but Merle only wanted to play hillbilly tunings, fought with his teacher, and gave it up. indd 47 7/8/13 11:50 AM 48 merle haggard twelve, his brother gave him his first guitar, a Sears Roebuck job called a “Bronson” that some down-on-his-luck fellow had left for payment at the gas station where Lowell worked. But while music was a fun diversion, it wasn’t work. “People like us,” Merle has said his family told him more than once, would never find success—they meant security, some material comfort, acceptance, pride—in the music business.
The Okies confronted a perfect storm of misery and dislocation—technological transformations piled on meteorological and economic crises, often exacerbated by personal devastations like the fire at the Haggard place, all stacking up, trouble upon trouble, to send people packing. Overproduction of wheat and cotton lowered prices for those cash crops after World War I, contributing to depression in the early 1920s. indd 23 7/8/13 11:50 AM 24 merle haggard that even in the best of times provided workers little more than subsistence living.