Finished in 1947 and lost to readers until now, House of Earth is Woody Guthrie's only fully realized novel--a powerful portrait of Dust Bowl America, filled with the homespun lyricism and authenticity that have made his songs a part of our national consciousness.Read more...
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Finished in 1947 and lost to readers until now, House of Earth is Woody Guthrie's only fully realized novel--a powerful portrait of Dust Bowl America, filled with the homespun lyricism and authenticity that have made his songs a part of our national consciousness. It is the story of an ordinary couple's dreams of a better life and their search for love and meaning in a corrupt world.
Tike and Ella May Hamlin struggle to plant roots in the arid land of the Texas Panhandle. The husband and wife live in a precarious wooden farm shack, but Tike yearns for a sturdy house that will protect them from the treacherous elements. Thanks to a five-cent government pamphlet, Tike has the know-how to build a simple adobe dwelling, a structure made from the land itself--fireproof, windproof, Dust Bowl-proof. A house of earth.
Though they are one with the farm and with each other, the land on which Tike and Ella May live and work is not theirs. Due to larger forces beyond their control--including ranching conglomerates and banks--their adobe house remains painfully out of reach.
A story of rural realism and progressive activism, and in many ways a companion piece to Guthrie's folk anthem "This Land Is Your Land," House of Earth is a searing portrait of hardship and hope set against a ravaged landscape. Combining the moral urgency and narrative drive of John Steinbeck with the erotic frankness of D. H. Lawrence, here is a powerful tale of America from one of our greatest artists.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2012-12-10
- Reviewer: Staff
Guthrie’s multifaceted legacy lives on (and combines beautifully with his affecting 1930 autobiography Bound for Glory) with this posthumous Texas plains novel set during the Dust Bowl era. The story is prefaced in a long-winded introduction by Brinkley, a media historian, and Depp, who polished the rough manuscript. Spearheading this tale of woe is Tike and Ella May Hamlin, a hardworking farmer and his pregnant wife, both subsisting in a rickety shack on land prized by a sharecropper. Tike dreams of building an adobe home to circumvent the use of pricey lumber and avoid the bank. The couple’s interactions, including graphic, extended erotic scenes, form the crux of a highly resonant, symbolic novel rife with themes of nature’s wrath, the misery of poverty, and the proletarian’s struggle against the churning machines of commerce. With dialogue rich in “hillbilly” vernacular and a story steeped in folk traditions, Guthrie’s drought-burdened, dust-blown landscape swirls with life. The book is finely supplemented with a biographical time line, companion discography, and artwork licensed by the Woody Guthrie Archives. His heritage as folksinger, artist, and observer of West Texas strife lives on through these distinct pages infused with the author’s wit, personality, and dedication to Americana. (Feb. 5)