Johnny Depp and Douglas Brinkley edit Woody Guthrie’s lost novel HOUSE OF EARTH for publication next spring

Leave it to Johnny Depp to find a fitting way to honor the 100th birthday of legendary folk singer, composer, and American public conscience Woody Guthrie (on July 14th); Johnny and historian Douglas Brinkley are teaming up to edit Guthrie’s long-lost novel House of Earth for publication next spring. According to the New York Times, House of Earth, which Guthrie finished in 1947 but never published, “follows a West Texas couple who, in their effort to build adobe homes as protection against treacherous weather, fight against banks and lumber companies.”

In a New York Times essay entitled “This Land Was His Land: Woody Guthrie’s Dust Bowl Novel,” Brinkley and Depp explain that Guthrie’s House of Earth “was written as a direct response to the Dust Bowl.” The novel reveals that the great musician was also “a brilliant and distinctive prose stylist, whose writing is distinguished by a homespun authenticity, deep-seated purpose and remarkable ear for dialect. [. . .] Pitched somewhere between rural realism and proletarian protest, somewhat static in terms of narrative drive, House of Earth nonetheless offers a searing portrait of the Panhandle and its marginalized Great Depression residents,” they write. “Guthrie successfully mixes Steinbeck’s narrative verve with D. H. Lawrence’s openness to erotic exploration. [. . .] At heart, House of Earth is a meditation about how poor people search for love and meaning in a corrupt world, one in which the rich have lost their moral compasses.”

Guthrie’s vision sounds perfectly attuned to these times, and will be a welcome addition to our bookshelves and his legacy. Congratulations to Johnny and Douglas Brinkley for bringing House of Earth to publication.

The Zone thanks Theresa for sharing the news; you can read more about House of Earth on the Zone’s News & Views forum. The Brinkley-Depp New York Times essay is available HERE.

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