House of Earth

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House of Earth: A Novel

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Editorial Reviews

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The most welcome miracle of the month is this "new" novel by Woody Guthrie. The folk-singing legend died in 1967, leaving behind thousands of pages of poetry, lyrics, and prose, but only one finished novel. Now published for the first time, House of Earth seems the perfect match for his powerful autobiography Bound for Glory, carrying with it strong portrait of rural resilience and social activism. Though grounded in the Dust Bowl era, this fiction will speak to readers more acquainted with more recent hard times. Editor's recommendations.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062263025
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/14/2013
  • Format: MP3
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Ships to U.S.and APO/FPO addresses only.

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 1, 2013

    A Newly Discovered Gem!

    I'll admit that I had trouble getting into this novel. In the beginning, there were lots of repetition of phrases, as in a song. Written by a one of the greatest songwriters of the time, the more I read, the more I enjoyed the rhythm of his use of adjectives to decribe many things. It was a great story written during the time of The Dust Bowl. It tells of the hard times people went through, their love, and their hope for a better tomorrow. I grew up in the Texas Panhandle and Mr. Guthrie described the land in such detail from the High Plains to the edge of the Caprock, a true gem!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 9, 2013

    House of Earth, by Woody GuthrieAfter 70 years, a gritty, poetic

    House of Earth, by Woody GuthrieAfter 70 years, a gritty, poetic story of the struggle to survive One year.  And what is a year?  A year is something that can be added on, but can never be taken away…  A year is that nervous craving to do your good job and to draw down your good pay, and to join your good union….And a year of work is three hundred and sixty-four, or –five, or –six days of the run, the hurry, the walking, the bouncing, and the jumping up and down, the arguments, fights, the liquor brawls, hangovers, headaches, and all.  Such is the beautifully evocative, earthy prose from House of Earth, the only novel written by radical organizer, poet, singer, and songwriter Woody Guthrie, written in 1947 and just published posthumously.  Guthrie writes of one young hardworking family during the Depression, Tike and Ella May Hamlin, their struggles to make a living off the land, trying to keep body and soul together and have a child in a shack that can barely stand up to the beatings of the Texas Panhandle.  He paints a sympathetic but clear-eyed and honest portrayal of working people, real people, not the noble, but often one-dimensional, portrayals of workers in the murals of the 1930s in the US and USSR, and certainly not the simplistic proles so condescended to in George Orwell’s 1984. The Hamlins rent a rickety house on decent farmland, but it’s an endless struggle to keep the crops coming up and food on the table, especially with their first child on the way and the bank breathing down their necks.  Tike’s dream is an adobe house.  Not a cheap wooden house built by the tight-fisted landowners that leaks and creaks and rattles in the wind, but a mud brick house literally made of earth that stands up to the climate and can’t be blown down, burned down, or repossessed by the bank.  Tike sends away for a pamphlet from the government on how to build one, and he keeps it in his pocket at all times, almost like a latter-day bible, drawing almost a religious hope from his goal of living in an earthen house. It’s a book about struggle, but not a book about strikes and picket lines.  This is the day to day struggle to raise kids, stay fed, clothed, housed and sane with only the barest of tools to make it happen.  But most workers even in the 1930s didn’t spend the majority of their time organizing, however heroic the efforts of the Communist Party and other organizers in fighting the ravages of capitalism.  It was mostly a constant struggle just to hold on, even with faith in a pipe dream like an adobe house.  It’s hard to know if Guthrie really thought that was a solution, or was just using the vision of an adobe house to show that even something as basic as a solid roof is unattainable under capitalism, since if it doesn’t generate profits, it doesn’t get built. As the product of hardscrabble Oklahoma farmers, Guthrie wasn’t at all afraid to show the both strengths and flaws in his characters, from the diligent workers to their sometimes not-so-diligent neighbors, their tenderness and their less admirable traits, like Tike’s occasional sexism.  They need each other to survive.  Ella Mae works every bit as hard, if not harder, than Tike, acting as the real anchor to the family.  It’s to Guthrie’s credit, incredibly for a book written over 65 years ago, that he doesn’t shy away from straightforward dealings of relationships and sexual relations between a working class man and wife as a real part of their life on the plains (he gives new meaning to the phrase "roll in the hay").   Aside from their conversations, sex, occasional interactions with the neighbors, and a very faulty radio, there’s not a lot to distract from the constant work.  But the lyrical and honest descriptions of life on the farm during the Depression, of life in general, the nuances of the characters and the tense, desperate scenes of childbirth on the open plains in the midst of a blizzard are gripping, taking the place of the more elaborate stories and plots in other fiction.  For the most part, Tike and Ella Mae don’t succumb to defeatism.  But that, too, is a constant effort, with the ever-present threat of foreclosure facing them and thousands of other farmers a dark cloud hanging over their lives, no matter how bright the real sky might be. For anyone who opposes the profit system, or wants to know how life looks from the bottom up, or just appreciates lyrical but unvarnished language, this is an important book, well worth reading.  It’s a great read, but also a beautiful depiction of working class people and life, their strengths and weaknesses, and the choices — however limited — people without money make under capitalism.  As portrayed in House of Earth, the dream of something as basic as a house of earth will remain just that, a dream, as long as the bankers own the land, until we take it away and give it to the people who work it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2013

    Awesome! I felt as though I was experiencing that era myself.  T

    Awesome! I felt as though I was experiencing that era myself.  The cold, the heat and the love of a time long gone but not forgotten. 
    Thank you Mr.  Brinkley and Mr.  Depp for sharing this true, treasure. 

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2013

    This years best book.

    Anyone who misses this book will miss Americana at its finest. Woody Guthrie was an oracle for our futures.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2013

    for adults that like earthy expressed sexual content

    i didn't realize the book was so earthy in sexual expressed content.
    i would not have bought it . i did not read the whole book. a
    couple of chapters were enough for me. i wish i could return it
    with another replacement more to my liking.

    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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