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Masturbation turns hens' eyes blue
Reading: James Agee, Cotton Tenants: Three Families, with photographs by Walker Evans (Melville House, 2013).

In 1936, James Agee (http://come-to-think.livejournal.com/22195.html) was sent by Fortune magazine to report on poor white farm families in Alabama.  He spent two months with three of them, and put a lot of effort into writing a 30,000-word article, which Fortune, for unknown reasons, never published.  He subsequently expanded it into a book, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, which sold badly but later became much esteemed.  Recently, the manuscript of the article surfaced and was edited & published as a book under the title mentioned.  There is of course some overlap with the longer book, but it can stand on its own and is interesting if you like Agee.  Here is one sentence:

Wasps whine threadily from their nest under the hot peak of the roof; rats skitter and thump and gnaw, and fight the cats; the hens tread the bare floors on horny feet; sharpen their bills on the boards, their eyes blue with autoeroticism; the broilers dab and thud at the mealy dung which the pup and, weightily, the youngest child, have delivered to the floor; the dogs and cats are gathered in by the odor of food among the bare feet under the kitchen table, Rowdy apologizing for getting his ribs kicked in, perfectly in that manner which has moved man to call the dog his best friend.

The bit about the hens must be a joke for Agee's bosses; he cannot have expected it to appear in print (except, perhaps, deliciously thru inattention).
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