ONBC Discusses House of Earth

by Woody Guthrie

Moderator: Liz

User avatar
fireflydances
ONBC Moderator
Posts: 3206
Joined: Tue Apr 28, 2009 9:15 pm
Location: under a pile of books
Contact:

Status: Offline

Re: ONBC Discusses House of Earth

Unread postby fireflydances » Fri Jan 25, 2013 5:28 pm

I can attest to the lyrical beauty of the novel. :-)
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies

User avatar
Buster
Posts: 810
Joined: Thu Jun 26, 2008 11:07 am

Status: Offline

Re: ONBC Discusses House of Earth

Unread postby Buster » Fri Jan 25, 2013 6:49 pm

Rolling Stone is running an interview with Nora Guthrie and Doug Brinkley in the current issue.

ONBC is, as usual, right up there in timeliness :-)

User avatar
fireflydances
ONBC Moderator
Posts: 3206
Joined: Tue Apr 28, 2009 9:15 pm
Location: under a pile of books
Contact:

Status: Offline

Re: ONBC Discusses House of Earth

Unread postby fireflydances » Sun Jan 27, 2013 12:52 am

Here's a review I just found in tomorrow's The Independent for House of Earth. Good one!

Review: House of Earth, By Woody Guthrie
This land is dry land ... as Guthrie sees it
JOY LO DICO SUNDAY 27 JANUARY 2013

It is rare that the introduction is as interesting as the book it seeks to preface. But in the case of House of Earth, the foreword, written by Douglas Brinkley and Johnny Depp, is a meal in itself.

House of Earth is a previously unpublished novel by the folk singer Woody Guthrie, who wandered the Dust Bowl states of Oklahoma and Texas at the same time as John Steinbeck, in the 1930s. While Steinbeck took on the Okies, Guthrie went for the Texas Panhandle, the northern tip of the state beset by loose soil, tumbleweed, and a plague of termites.

Guthrie's story is of a husband and wife looking at the forlorn shack on rented land that is their home, and trying to figure out how to make their rickety existence more permanent. He took a decade to finish writing the novel, by which time the Second World War had intervened and America moved on. Brinkley and Depp believe he was also trying to interest Hollywood. But no film came to pass, and the manuscript languished until Depp, with his new publishing house, Infinitum Nihil, decided to revive it.

What may have put both Hollywood and publishers off is an extraordinary scene, spanning 30 pages, in which the gangly hero, Tike, gets his wife Ella Mae to put down the milk-churns and come over to the barn for a little lovin'. Their bodies, the juices that flow, the dark thoughts that struggle to find words: the honesty of the passage seems modern, even shocking. When they finally climax, Tike has to pick off the itchy dry straw from his tender privates, so dry is the land they call home.

Guthrie has a wider theme. Having surveyed the shacks sitting on the dirt, termite infested and creaking in the wind, Guthrie could not help but conclude that man should have more dignity in his basic shelter. He uses Tike as an evangelist to push a US government manual explaining how to build adobe huts, as they have in Mexico for thousands of years, and which have endured, keeping their inhabitants warm, protected and termite-free. Indeed, Tike and his wife even discuss adobe while making love, which briefly deadens the atmosphere for the reader.

But with Guthrie's ear for language and eye for human passions, House of Earth is an engaging and poetic story about struggle that still rings true today. Its revival is welcome.

"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies

User avatar
fireflydances
ONBC Moderator
Posts: 3206
Joined: Tue Apr 28, 2009 9:15 pm
Location: under a pile of books
Contact:

Status: Offline

Re: ONBC Discusses House of Earth

Unread postby fireflydances » Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:15 am

Here's a really excellent background piece on House of Earth, out of the Houston Chronicle tonight:




The book that Woody Guthrie, Johnny Depp and Douglas Brinkley built

By Maggie Galehouse
09:30 PM

Johnny Depp. Woody Guthrie. Douglas Brinkley.

An unlikely trio, perhaps, but all have left their fingerprints on "House of Earth," Guthrie's only fully realized novel, which will be published Tuesday for the first time.

Guthrie, the folksinger who wrote "This Land is Your Land" and left lyrics to thousands of folk songs when he died in 1967, based the book on his own experience in the Texas Panhandle during the Great Depression. The story follows a tenant farmer in the Dust Bowl, struggling against the elements in a wooden shack, who yearns to build an adobe house.

The Oklahoma-born Guthrie finished the book in 1947. But without the sleuthing of Brinkley, an author and Rice University professor, it might not have been rescued from obscurity. And without the vision and deep Hollywood pockets of Depp, an actor known for his eccentric characters and individualism, it might not have found such a sympathetic publisher.

In a weird way, Bob Dylan started it.

"I interviewed Bob Dylan for a cover story at Rolling Stone," Brinkley said, on the phone from his Austin home, "and we spoke quite a bit about Woody Guthrie."

That magazine story, along with research for his upcoming book about Franklin D. Roosevelt and the environment, pushed Brinkley to dig deeper into Guthrie. That led him to the writings of Alan Lomax, a folklorist and friend of Guthrie's. Lomax had read the first chapter of "House of Earth" and was so taken with it, he wanted to drop everything to help his friend get it published.

But the trail stopped there. And Brinkley wondered: What happened to this book?

Lost in California
Woody Guthrie, shown in 1944, is known for his Dust Bowl ballads. His novel, tracked down by Rice professor Douglas Brinkley, is coming out next week.

Brinkley called the Woody Guthrie Foundation and Archives in New York to speak with the director. Nora Guthrie, Woody's daughter, had never heard of the novel, either.

"We have about 15,000 documents in our archives," Nora Guthrie said, "but it was Douglas who alerted us that there was this supposed novel floating around."

Brinkley finally found "House of Earth" in Oklahoma, but for more than half a century it had languished in California. It was found among the papers of filmmaker Irving Lerner, to whom Guthrie had sent the manuscript in the hopes that it would become a movie. The Lerner estate found it when sorting through its own archives in Los Angeles and shipped it to Tulsa's McFarlin Library for permanent housing.

"Nora was ecstatic and so was I," Brinkley said.

Some digging in the Guthrie archives - soon to be relocated and attached to a new Woody Guthrie museum in Tulsa - later turned up another copy of the manuscript as well, Nora Guthrie said.

The two other books in the Guthrie canon - "Bound for Glory" and "Seeds of Man" - are autobiography with a dash of fiction, Nora Guthrie said. "House of Earth" is fiction based on personal experience.

Woody Guthrie, around 1943, in an undated handout photo. Though Guthrie remains a controversial figure in his native state decades after his death, his archives are getting a new home in Tulsa, Okla.

"Steinbeck wrote about people who left the Dust Bowl for California," Brinkley said. "But Woody stayed in Pampa, Texas, and experienced it from there. It wasn't just the summer storms that were brutal. The deforestation and drought and winds made the winter colder and fiercer. People were living in plywood shacks."

New Mexico inspiration
In his early 20s, Guthrie endured a terrible dust storm in a shack on the Texas plains, holding a wet rag over his mouth to keep from being asphyxiated. The next year, 1936, he visited adobe houses in New Mexico and began to preach the utilitarian value of adobe in Texas. In 1937, while Guthrie was holding fast against a vicious Texas plains blizzard that churned up both dust and snow, he fantasized about building an adobe house.

"He wanted to start an adobe neighborhood, but the lumber companies would have lost money," Brinkley said. "Woody argued that tenant farmers should be allowed to build their own adobe homes. So the book is a commentary on his problems with big banks and big agriculture during the Great Depression."

There's also a graphic sex scene that might have made potential publishers balk, Nora Guthrie said.

Here's where Johnny Depp comes in.

Brinkley had worked with the actor before. They co-wrote the liner notes to a Hunter S. Thompson documentary, earning a Grammy nomination for their efforts.

(Brinkley was Thompson's literary executor and Depp starred in a film based on Thompson's semi-autobiographical novel, "The Rum Diary.")

When Brinkley contacted Depp to tell him about "House of Earth," the actor was poised to launch a new imprint with Brinkley's longtime publisher, HarperCollins. Depp was searching for titles that resonated with his aesthetic.

"Johnny's brother is a rare book dealer and Johnny is a collector, too," Brinkley said. "He has a certain taste for avant garde literature, old-style Americana things. Johnny started his career as a guitar player and Woody Guthrie is one of his heroes."

"House of Earth" proved a good fit for "Infinitum Nihil," the name of Depp's new imprint and his production company.

In 2012, the centennial of Guthrie's birth, Brinkley and Depp announced their plans to publish "House of Earth." The two men co-wrote the introduction to the book that year in New Mexico, where Depp was filming "The Lone Ranger."

Daughter thrilled
For Nora Guthrie, "House of Earth" offers a new point of entry into her father's trove of writings, artwork and recordings.

"He wrote about everything he saw around him," said Guthrie, who was just 17 when her father died of Huntington's disease, a debilitating neurological disorder. "His work is a document of 20th-century America."

She was thrilled to learn that Depp used an oil painting of her father's for the dust jacket of "House of Earth," and that the actor was keen to produce a beautiful hardcover book to launch his imprint.

"Johnny is a lover of books and a lover of paper," Nora Guthrie said. "In that way, he's just like my dad."

"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies

User avatar
SnoopyDances
Posts: 48758
Joined: Sun Feb 21, 2010 3:12 pm
Location: Tashmore Lake

Status: Online

Re: ONBC Discusses House of Earth

Unread postby SnoopyDances » Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:29 am

:applause2: Thanks Firefly!

Looking forward to this book!

User avatar
Lou Lou 63
Posts: 13856
Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2011 10:47 am
Location: Rock Star!!!

Status: Offline

Re: ONBC Discusses House of Earth

Unread postby Lou Lou 63 » Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:29 am

I love the buzz that this book is getting, and I love the buzz that Johnny's getting with his Infinitum Nihil company is getting :applause:

"There are no strings on ME!!" Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron

"Music touches us emotionally, where words alone can't": Johnny on music.
Thanks to HG for my AVI'S

User avatar
Liz
ONBC Moderator
Posts: 12971
Joined: Thu Jun 24, 2004 2:13 pm
Location: The Left Coast

Status: Offline

Re: ONBC Discusses House of Earth

Unread postby Liz » Thu Jan 31, 2013 10:56 pm

Love this quote! There are so many times I wish I could have quoted it when people did not understand the whole ONBC premise.

"Johnny is a lover of books and a lover of paper," Nora Guthrie said. "In that way, he's just like my dad."

Thanks for posting these reviews, Firefly.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

User avatar
Theresa
JDZ Webmaster
Posts: 26599
Joined: Sun May 01, 2005 1:21 am
Location: Houston, Texas

Status: Offline

Re: ONBC Discusses House of Earth

Unread postby Theresa » Mon Feb 04, 2013 7:15 pm



Woody Guthrie's lost novel is first for Depp's imprint

Bob Minzesheimer
USA TODAY
5:28p.m. EST February 4, 2013


The folk singer's Dust Bowl story, written in 1947, was found by historian Douglas Brinkley and will finally be published.

Thanks to two friends — actor Johnny Depp and historian Douglas Brinkley — a previously unpublished novel by Woody Guthrie, the legendary folksinger/songwriter, will be released Tuesday, 66 years after it was finished.

House of Earth, about a farm couple struggling through the Dust Bowl, which Guthrie saw firsthand in his 20s in Texas, is the first book in Depp's publishing imprint with HarperCollins, called Infinitum Nihil (which means "nothing is forever" and is also the name of Depp's film production company). It will publish two to three books a year.

Guthrie, an unabashed socialist who died in 1967, is best known for his song This Land Is Your Land. He hoped his novel, which attacks bankers, lumber barons and agribusiness, would become a movie. Instead, it languished in archives until Brinkley came across a reference to it in 2011.

By e-mail, Depp calls the novel "a lost treasure of 20th-century American literature," but he has no designs yet to adapt it as a movie.

"But should the possibility of a film be discussed," he adds, "it would be an honor to play any part in it."

Brinkley, a prolific author and professor at Rice University in Houston, met Depp through their mutual admiration of another legend: "Gonzo" journalist Hunter S. Thompson.

Brinkley was Thompson's literary executor. Depp starred in The Rum Diary, the 2011 film based on Thompson's semi-autobiographical novel. The historian and actor also co-wrote the liner notes to Gonzo, a documentary about Thompson.

Brinkley was working on another book for Depp's imprint — a biography of Bob Dylan, set to be released in 2015 — when he read a brief reference to House of Earth in the papers of folklorist Alan Lomax. Later, Brinkley discovered that Guthrie mailed the manuscript to filmmaker Irving Lerner and that it eventually ended up in a box at the University of Tulsa library.

Brinkley found no evidence Guthrie submitted the novel to a publisher. "Not long after he finished it, his health started deteriorating," Brinkley says. "Also, its leftist politics and explicit sex scenes would have been hard to market in the Truman era."

Brinkley says he and Depp did some "light editing" of the manuscript and co-wrote the 35-page introduction. The 1947 novel is significant, Brinkley says, because it describes "the stubborn dirt farmers who remained behind in the Great Plains," rather than the families who fled west, celebrated in John Steinbeck's famous 1939 novel, The Grapes of Wrath.

Guthrie has been cited as an influence by contemporary musicians from Dylan to Bruce Springsteen, but Brinkley says few of his students have heard of Guthrie. The last time Brinkley asked, only one student in a class of 35 recognized the name.

Guthrie's daughter, Nora Guthrie, 63, director of the New York-based Woody Guthrie Foundation, says she didn't know about the novel until Brinkley called. "We found a copy in our archives, but I've been focusing on 3,000 song lyrics my dad wrote. I wasn't look for a lost manuscript."

She's thrilled that "after all this time, he's speaking for himself" and that the novel's cover uses her father's 1936 oil painting of an adobe house. She says, "He always wrote to be heard."

User avatar
SnoopyDances
Posts: 48758
Joined: Sun Feb 21, 2010 3:12 pm
Location: Tashmore Lake

Status: Online

Re: ONBC Discusses House of Earth

Unread postby SnoopyDances » Mon Feb 04, 2013 10:09 pm

Ordered my copy! :giddy:



Uh-oh...another future ONBC title, perhaps... :whistle:
Brinkley was working on another book for Depp's imprint — a biography of Bob Dylan, set to be released in 2015

User avatar
bluebird
Posts: 766
Joined: Thu Apr 28, 2005 10:34 pm
Location: Southeastern PA

Status: Offline

Re: ONBC Discusses House of Earth

Unread postby bluebird » Tue Feb 05, 2013 2:12 am

My copy shipped today. Should have it tomorrow. :noodlemantra:
The edge … there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over. HST

User avatar
fireflydances
ONBC Moderator
Posts: 3206
Joined: Tue Apr 28, 2009 9:15 pm
Location: under a pile of books
Contact:

Status: Offline

Re: ONBC Discusses House of Earth

Unread postby fireflydances » Tue Feb 05, 2013 6:29 pm

This is a short radio clip from NPR that features Douglas Brinkley and Nora Guthrie talking about Woody Guthrie and House of Earth. Only 7 minutes, nice and informative.

This was broadcast this morning and likely won't hang around for more than a week or so.

Enjoy!




Also, looking forward to bluebird and Snoop joining us when we start discussing the book. Howdy Ladies, as Woody would say. :hatsoff:
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies

User avatar
Pixie
Posts: 725
Joined: Sun Apr 15, 2012 7:10 pm
Location: UK (near London)

Status: Offline

Re: ONBC Discusses House of Earth

Unread postby Pixie » Tue Feb 05, 2013 9:17 pm

Thanks Firefly, I enjoyed listening to that. :ok: It really sets the scene for the book.

I got my copy yesterday :omg: and will try and join in again.

:ONBC:

User avatar
SnoopyDances
Posts: 48758
Joined: Sun Feb 21, 2010 3:12 pm
Location: Tashmore Lake

Status: Online

Re: ONBC Discusses House of Earth

Unread postby SnoopyDances » Sat Feb 09, 2013 2:53 am

Started reading!
I'm passed the essay and into the novel! :noodlemantra: A minor miracle for me. :lol:

Also watched The Grapes of Wrath tonight on TCM. :sad:

Bring on the tidbits! :yahoo:

User avatar
DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
Posts: 10378
Joined: Mon Jun 21, 2004 10:43 pm
Location: Austin

Status: Offline

Re: ONBC Discusses House of Earth

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Sat Feb 09, 2013 2:53 pm

Snoop, I watched Grapes of Wrath on TCM too! I can't remember when, if ever, I actually saw the movie in its entirety and I enjoyed it very much. Many old movies don't hold up but this one sure does!I'm off to get my copy of House of Earth today.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -
Wow! What a ride!

User avatar
bluebird
Posts: 766
Joined: Thu Apr 28, 2005 10:34 pm
Location: Southeastern PA

Status: Offline

Re: ONBC Discusses House of Earth

Unread postby bluebird » Sat Feb 09, 2013 3:30 pm

fireflydances wrote:Also, looking forward to bluebird and Snoop joining us when we start discussing the book. Howdy Ladies, as Woody would say. :hatsoff:


Howdy!!
:-)
Starting to read it this afternoon ...
:noodlemantra:
The edge … there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over. HST


Return to “House of Earth”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest