Woody Guthrie novel release Tuesday
BY Staff Reports
Sunday, February 03, 2013
2/03/13 at 3:29 AM
"House of Earth," a novel Woody Guthrie finished in 1947 but never published, will be released Tuesday.
It's the first book to be published by Infinitum Nihil, an imprint of Harper Collins. Actor Johnny Depp created the imprint, and served as co-editor of the novel with historian Douglas Brinkley. Depp and Brinkley also wrote the introduction to the novel.
The original manuscript of the novel - 164 typewritten pages - is part of the Special Collections at the University of Tulsa's McFarlin Library. Depp and Brinkley worked with a photocopy of the manuscript that is part of the Woody Guthrie Archives, which will move from New York City to Tulsa's Brady District later this year.
Set in Texas during the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s, "House of Earth" is the story of Tike and Ella May Hamlin, whose lives are at the mercy of forces both natural and man-made. Tike dreams of creating an adobe house that will provide the couple with shelter and that could be constructed without dealing with banks and other such oppressive institutions.
The Harper Collins website calls it "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' ... combining the moral urgency and narrative drive of John Steinbeck with the erotic frankness of D.H. Lawrence."
An early review by Publishers Weekly said: "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."
Kirkus Reviews called the book, "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 - and an achievement even more than a curiosity, yet another facet of Guthrie's multiplex talents."