House of Earth by Woody Guthrie
A Novel

73%

16 Critic Reviews

An entertainment—and an achievement even more than a curiosity, yet another facet of Guthrie’s multiplex talents.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

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.

 

About Woody Guthrie

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Woodrow Wilson "Woody" Guthrie (1912-1967) was an American singer-songwriter and folk musician whose musical legacy includes hundreds of political, traditional, and children's songs and ballads, including the beloved classic, This Land Is Your Land. Many of his recorded songs are archived in the Library of Congress. Songwriters including Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, Pete Seeger, Joe Strummer, Billy Bragg, Jeff Tweedy, and Tom Paxton have acknowledged Guthrie as a major influence.
 
Published February 5, 2013 by Harper. 289 pages
Genres: History, Westerns, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for House of Earth
All: 16 | Positive: 10 | Negative: 6

Kirkus

Excellent
on Nov 19 2012

An entertainment—and an achievement even more than a curiosity, yet another facet of Guthrie’s multiplex talents.

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Guardian

Good
on Feb 14 2013

... it offers intimate, often startling access to the peculiar intellect and capacious soul of a 20th-century icon.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Dec 10 2012

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.

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Blog Critics

Below average
Reviewed by ManoflaBook.com on Nov 05 2013

The book was a strange one, poetic and lyrical on some pages, yet annoying on others. Parts of the novel were fun to read, others where difficult to get through.

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Star Tribune

Above average
Reviewed by Emily Carter on Feb 09 2013

“House of Earth” is well constructed, like a good song or house should be, but it’s also a bit flawed and unruly, exactly the way American literature has always been.

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Book Reporter

Above average
Reviewed by Roz Shea on Feb 15 2013

Pithy, primal and raw with emotion, HOUSE OF EARTH is written more as a poetic narrative than what one would consider a structured novel. If you are not familiar with Guthrie’s legendary music, lyrics, poetry, essays and memoirs, his portrayal of the American spirit of the humble man and his legacy is worth exploring.

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The Independent

Good
on Jan 27 2013

...with Guthrie's ear for language and eye for human passions, House of Earth is an engaging and poetic story...

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The Telegraph

Below average
on Feb 16 2013

Perhaps there could be a new “Folk” section in the Bad Sex in Fiction awards...

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Christian Science Monitor

Above average
on Feb 11 2013

The likelihood of its becoming a classic of American literature is less than one might have hoped.

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USA Today

Good
on Feb 05 2013

...there is a surprising electricity in House of Earth...if he had given the art form more time, Guthrie might have become a great novelist.

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Dallas News

Excellent
on Feb 08 2013

House of Earth becomes an invaluable addition to the literature of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression, one with an eerie relevance in today’s America.

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Chicago Tribune

Excellent
on Feb 01 2013

...a keen ear for dialogue, a deep sense of empathy, sharp powers of observation and a lyrical way with words.

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Boston.com

Below average
on Feb 06 2013

The second half of the book is as chaotic as the first half is stagnant.

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Star-Telegram

Above average
on Feb 13 2013

The book is a treasure and a pleasure for Guthrie enthusiasts, but it's hardly an American classic.

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The Beachside Resident

Good
on Feb 13 2013

...a tribute to the author, that a novel set in the 1930s, written in the 1940s, and just now published, is still relevant.

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W. 11th & Bluff

Excellent
on Jan 16 2013

In House of Earth, Woody is still there, he's still singing out like the radio, and his voice is just as "powerful, moving, ruggedly beautiful, honest, and complete" as ever.

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Reader Rating for House of Earth
66%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 96 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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