House of Earth5stars



A Gem Written with Honesty and Rawness

By Woody Guthrie
Infinitum Nihil / Harper, $25.99, 230 pages

Woody Guthrie’s House of Earth was recently discovered as his only finished novel, written 65 years ago. Tike and Ella May live in the Texas Panhandle in a barely-standing shack on a leased 600 acre farm. Tike dreams of owning a small plot and building an adobe house. He orders a government pamphlet with instructions on how to build a home using only materials from the earth. This pamphlet makes Tike’s dream appear so easy and obtainable, but life continues to get in the way. The land is arid and rocky and their shack does little to keep out the elements. Tike and Ella May love each other but wonder if it is enough to overcome the greedy landlords and banks.

Guthrie writes with such rawness and honesty that as the reader you can swear you are in the dilapidated shack with Tike and Ella May. Guthrie’s dialogue feels so real and accurate; you can certainly feel the cruelty and pain that Tike and Ella May battle. This is a book with an interesting story, achingly real characters and a political message against capitalism and greed that is still feels current in today’s political and economic climate.

Reviewed by Seniye Groff

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