House of Earth Question #6: Love in the Cowshed (!)

by Woody Guthrie

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House of Earth Question #6: Love in the Cowshed (!)

Unread postby fireflydances » Tue Apr 02, 2013 9:51 pm

In the Introduction, the editors suggest that Guthrie "was willing to explore raw sexuality." (pg. xli)

Do you agree? What do you think about the explicit nature of the love scene in the windmillcowshed?
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Re: House of Earth Question #6: Love in the Windmill

Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Wed Apr 03, 2013 2:29 am

I got bored and stopped reading it not really into reading about that in books these days especially when its from a man's point of veiw, they always seem to exagerate their prowess. :lol:
Unless I missed something I thought it was in the cowshed or barn.

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Re: House of Earth Question #6: Love in the Windmill

Unread postby nebraska » Wed Apr 03, 2013 12:44 pm

I thought the same about the location, GG.

The scene in Woody's book seemed realistic enough in that the words and behavior were what I might expect from an ordinary couple in the throes of marital lust, which may be thrilling and fun for them but seem ridiculous to outsiders; after the first couple of paragraphs it became rather dull. But maybe that is the point. The entire book painted a picture of dull lives in dull surroundings and hum drum daily activities just trying to survive. For me it was "raw" in the sense that it was "realistic", if rather boring. I think if I were to read explicit scenes for enjoyment, I would select a different story than this one, one with more fantasy and drama and more exciting characters.

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Re: House of Earth Question #6: Love in the Windmill

Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Wed Apr 03, 2013 1:07 pm

nebraska wrote:I thought the same about the location, GG.

The scene in Woody's book seemed realistic enough in that the words and behavior were what I might expect from an ordinary couple in the throes of marital lust, which may be thrilling and fun for them but seem ridiculous to outsiders; after the first couple of paragraphs it became rather dull. But maybe that is the point. The entire book painted a picture of dull lives in dull surroundings and hum drum daily activities just trying to survive. For me it was "raw" in the sense that it was "realistic", if rather boring. I think if I were to read explicit scenes for enjoyment, I would select a different story than this one, one with more fantasy and drama and more exciting characters.

Yeah it seemed to go for along time pages and pages. I know I read a critism of the book not being well edited that some scenes could have been pruned to me that scene would have been one of them.

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Re: House of Earth Question #6: Love in the Windmill

Unread postby RamblinRebel » Wed Apr 03, 2013 2:56 pm

Hmm, well… I don’t read a lot of sexually explicit material. Case in point – I was on a camping trip last fall – myself, 5 other moms, and a couple dozen girls. After the girls were asleep, or pretending anyway, the conversation turned, as it does, to more adult things. I was shocked to find out that out of the 6 of us I was the only one who hadn’t read Fifty Shades of Grey! :-O I don’t know, I guess I’m really missing out on something! :lol: But anyway, my point is that I don’t have much to compare it to – I never read romance novels or the like –I guess that type of fantasy never appealed to me.

But with that preface, I really did enjoy the first chapter of House of Earth. Maybe because it felt so real (with a notable exception to GG’s comment about male prowess :lol: ). I enjoyed the dialog and banter between Tike and Elly, and I can certainly appreciate how when you are really excited about something (get your mind ouf of the gutter - I'm referring to the adobe house) it can carry over into all other aspects of your life, including lovemaking. And there’s no doubt that the scene helped to fully develop the characters, the relationship between the two of them, and their relationship to the farm. I agree it was a bit drawn out, but I certainly felt like I knew them both pretty well by the end of that chapter! And it was bold - probably extremely gutsy for that time! It definitely left me saying "wow".

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Re: House of Earth Question #6: Love in the Windmill

Unread postby shaman-art » Wed Apr 03, 2013 3:16 pm

I think Guthrie was way ahead of the times. They way he described that scene I'd expect in a book written in the late 60's / early 70's. I agree that it was way too long. But to me it it was quite a contrast compared to the descriptions of their bleak life on the about 35 pages before. I don't know, but after finishing the book I had the feeling that the only "action" in this book came from the sex and the birth of the child. Everything else was going nowhere. So what is it Guthrie wanted to tell me? Life goes on, no matter what? Hm..

I think they've been very careful in terms of editing. Usually an editor can discuss necessary changes with the writer, but in this case I think they wanted to stay as close as possible to the original script. (From the acknowledgments: "We've done our best to edit the novel as we believe Woody would have wanted it done. We made a few cosmetic changes and spelling corrections, and some minor restructuring of two paragraphs.")

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Re: House of Earth Question #6: Love in the Windmill

Unread postby Liz » Wed Apr 03, 2013 5:27 pm

Yeah, I’m glad they didn’t do very much editing.

I think part of its magic is its archeological value. It’s almost like Woody’s come back to give us a message.

I have to say I was shocked by the first chapter, though. :shocked: I don’t think I have ever read such a raw description of sex. I cannot even imagine what the reaction would be if it had been published at that time.

Remember The Thin Man? It was banned in Canada for the use of one word. That was in 1935. And all subsequent publications changed the word to “excited.”

But I don’t have much to compare it to. I did not read Shades of Gray. And I can count the number of romance novels I’ve read on one hand.

I thought the chapter was very entertaining and found myself laughing a lot. But I think I prefer the more subtle descriptions I’ve read in other novels, that take up 2 pages max.

Although his descriptions were very realistic (too much so), I think Ella May’s thoughts and feelings were written from a guy’s point of view.
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Re: House of Earth Question #6: Love in the Windmill

Unread postby fireflydances » Wed Apr 03, 2013 9:34 pm

I think what I really liked about the lovemaking was how it was woven into ordinary conversation. I've read a certain amount of graphic sex over the years and I found Guthrie's description a very realistic portrayal of sex between two people who aren't new to each other and are comfortable enough that they can say the darnedest things without hesitation, giving each other silly nicknames and the like, but also expressing their deep passion for each other. Not a lot of the "over the top you've got to be kidding bodice ripping scenes" like you'll find in some erotic material. These were real people. No one was playing a role, nothing demeaning to either person. I found it refreshing.

I also liked that Guthrie used the scene to expand our understanding about each person. We got to know these two people while they made love. We saw different sides of each of them --boastful, shy, randy, boyish, coy and mothering. I liked the mix of Tike we saw - fussing with Ella about swearing, teasing her, and then asking her what it felt like when they made love, and then providing us with insight into his thoughts as he experienced her. I found him surprisingly sensitive. Such a multi-layered portrait of a man.

I didn't find anything in chapter 1 that I would edit out. Guthrie's long stream of consciousness descriptions fit a certain kind of book. Without all of his jazz improvisations on the act of making love, the scene would deflate. We are meant to be in the spiral of Tike's feelings, to follow him down, to feel overwhelmed. It's not that we have to comprehend each word he is writing, it's more than we are brought into the flow with him. At least that's my take on it. I kind of like words that go off the track a bit now and then. Very musical.

:blush: Yeah, I screwed up on the windmill. I was looking so hard last night for the line I knew was there where he named the location, and I began to think I was crazy and had made up the whole thing about it being in a cowshed. I couldn't find the word to save my life. Oh well. (Although the image of making love in a windmill is interesting.)
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies

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Re: House of Earth Question #6: Love in the Windmill

Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Thu Apr 04, 2013 3:42 am

Liz wrote:Yeah, I’m glad they didn’t do very much editing.

I think part of its magic is its archeological value. It’s almost like Woody’s come back to give us a message.

I have to say I was shocked by the first chapter, though. :shocked: I don’t think I have ever read such a raw description of sex. I cannot even imagine what the reaction would be if it had been published at that time.

Remember The Thin Man? It was banned in Canada for the use of one word. That was in 1935. And all subsequent publications changed the word to “excited.”

But I don’t have much to compare it to. I did not read Shades of Gray. And I can count the number of romance novels I’ve read on one hand.

I thought the chapter was very entertaining and found myself laughing a lot. But I think I prefer the more subtle descriptions I’ve read in other novels, that take up 2 pages max.

Although his descriptions were very realistic (too much so), I think Ella May’s thoughts and feelings were written from a guy’s point of view.

I think I found things funny but maybe not in the same way :lol: it was the sescriptions of Ella feeling during the lovemaking that really started to annoy me, as, as you say it was from a guys point of view which went along with what I said yesterday about men thinking how wonderful they are at it when they probably aren't.
I've also read a fair amout of graphic sex in books over the years some reknowned for it back in the 80's but it gets tedious after a while, what you want is to learn more about characters through the development of the story, subtle is always best, less is more. I would imagine this scene would be one thing that would have made the book difficult to publish back then.

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Re: House of Earth Question #6: Love in the Cowshed (!)

Unread postby ladylinn » Thu Apr 04, 2013 11:54 am

The words describing the love scene were beautifully written with much passion. As for my thinking - it went on and on and on.............. I guess editing would have lost some of the passion. The setting in the barn left me feeling itchy and scratchy!!! :lol: Sorry!

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Re: House of Earth Question #6: Love in the Cowshed (!)

Unread postby Charlene » Mon Apr 08, 2013 8:19 pm

I agree with what has been said. It went on too long...so my mind began to wander....and then began to think about Johnny and Brinkley reading this..and wondering what they were thinking while reading this...did they read sections of it to each other and laugh or compare notes....men are so different than women I can't fathom what two guys editing would say about this passage...so when I think about this scene, I remember thinking, they read these same words, probably numerous times...what did they think?

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Re: House of Earth Question #6: Love in the Cowshed (!)

Unread postby Liz » Mon Apr 08, 2013 9:34 pm

Another interesting question to ponder, Charlene. Oh to be a fly on the wall...... :lol:
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Re: House of Earth Question #6: Love in the Cowshed (!)

Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Tue Apr 09, 2013 2:20 am

Maybe they thought they could pick up some tips :biggrin:

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Re: House of Earth Question #6: Love in the Cowshed (!)

Unread postby Buster » Tue Apr 09, 2013 3:29 pm

You know, I don't think Woody was writing that scene as erotica - I think he was just describing what happened. Having sex was a natural and comfortable part of Tike and Ella's life, something they both enjoyed. Their conversation throughout the scene reveals a lot about their relationship. The matter of fact details about itchiness and the description of the way Tike's mind wandered immediately after orgasm aren't designed to titillate; they are there to add authenticity.

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Re: House of Earth Question #6: Love in the Cowshed (!)

Unread postby Liz » Wed Apr 10, 2013 12:40 am

I hadn't really thought about why he wrote it, Buster. I'm still trying to get past the shock. :lol:
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.


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