Synopses & Reviews
Finished in 1947 and lost to readers until now, House of Earth
is legendary folk singer and American icon Woody Guthrie's only finished novel. A powerful portrait of Dust Bowl America, it's 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 are struggling 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.
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.
An essay by bestselling historian Douglas Brinkley and Johnny Depp introduce House of Earth, the inaugural title in Depp's imprint at HarperCollins, Infinitum Nihil.
"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." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“Guthrie's straight forward depiction of his raw rural characters are reminiscent of not any of his fellow Americans so much as they are of Mikhail Sholokhov. The folksy, incantatory exuberance is all Guthrie....An entertainment &mdash and an achievement even more than a curiosity, yet another facet of Guthrie's multiplex talents.” Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Woodrow Wilson "Woody" Guthrie (1912-1967) was an American folk balladeer whose best-known song is "This Land Is Your Land." His musical legacy includes over three thousand songs, covering an exhaustive repertoire of historcal, political, cultural, topical, spiritual, narrative, and children's themes. Guthrie was a prolific writer and visual artist. His papers, artwork, and recordings are preserved in the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Woody Guthrie Archives. Often performing with the slogan "This Machine Kills Fascists" painted across his guitar, Guthrie was a major influence on hundreds of musicians, including Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Bruce Springsteen, Joe Strummer, John Mellencamp, Ani DiFranco, and Billy Bragg.