House of Earth

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House of Earth

Format:  Paperback,

234 pages

Publisher: Harpercollins

Publish Date: Oct 2013

ISBN-13: 9780062248404

ISBN-10: 0062248405

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Finished in 1947, 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.

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 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.


Publisher: Harpercollins
Publish Date: Oct 2013
ISBN-13: 9780062248404
ISBN-10: 0062248405
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 234
Shipping Weight (in pounds): 0.67
Product in Inches (L x W x H): 5.32 x 0.77 x 8.02


Review by Library Journal (2013-01-25)

Guthrie (1912-67), America's iconic folksinger, completed a novel in 1947 that languished on a Hollywood shelf for decades, now published for the first time. Edited and introduced by its editors, historian Douglas Brinkley and actor Johnny Depp, this is a paean to Dustbowl farmers and the concept of adobe-brick house building. Incantatory in style, the novel is filled with dialog between husband and wife Tike and Ella May Hamlin as they struggle to make a go of tenant farming in the Texas Panhandle.

Tike dreams of buying some acreage and building an adobe house. The wooden shack they live in is under constant invasion from dust and termites. Though the couple lack for money, their love is strong, and their lovemaking frequent, depicted with earthy gusto. When Ella May gets pregnant, their need to create a better life becomes paramount.

Verdict: Almost more a prose poem than a novel, this is an impassioned tirade against agribusiness and capitalism. Much like Guthrie's songs, the novel presents many concerns of the Everyman. Although some may see this as a literary artifact, readers who appreciate John Steinbeck and Erskine Caldwell, as well as fans of Guthrie's music, will want to reach for this folksy novel.

[This is the inaugural title in Depp's Infinitum Nihil imprint.-Ed.] - Keddy Ann Outlaw, Houston, TX

(c). Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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