FOLK legend Woody Guthrie is best known for songs, but his recently-discovered novel, House Of Earth, showcases another extraordinary talent.
The plot centres around simple farming couple Tike and Ella May Hamlin, and their struggle to build a “fireproof, windproof, rainproof, sweatproof, bugproof, foolproof, everything proof” adobe dwelling on land they don’t own.
Co-editors Johnny Depp and Douglas Brinkley claim that House Of Earth is the literary companion to Guthrie’s most famous song, This Land Is Your Land, and there are certainly comparisons to be made.
Guthrie uses the story to rail against the big banks and business conglomerates that bought up huge swathes of the Texas Panhandle in the post-Depression years, in an echo of some of his most popular folk anthems.
Guthrie completed the book in 1947, but it is only now being published. Casually erotic and extremely left-leaning, it would have created quite a stir in 1940s/50s America, although a post-50 Shades audience will probably find it quite tame.
Gritty, vulgar and aspirational, House Of Earth tells a fascinating story of life in 1930s Dust Bowl America.