SEEING IS BELIEVING
Commuters, multitaskers, avid readers, and computer users all agree that HarperLuxe is the new format in larger print, set in 14-point type
- HarperLuxe titles feature wide margins and 14-point type—easier on the eyes than standard 11-point type, but not quite as conspicuously large as the 16-point type traditionally associated with large print.
House of Earth follows the lives of two farmers, Tike and Ella May Hamlin, husband and wife, who live in the Texas Panhandle in the 1930s. They live a hard life in a flimsy shack, yet exist with extreme (and fraught) vitality. Their wooden house can't keep out the elements, so Tike--Guthrie's alter ego--espouses the gospel of adobe. Everywhere he goes, he carries a five-cent government pamphlet, a how-to manual that teaches poor, rural people how to build an adobe dwelling from the cellar up. Homes made from the land itself--fireproof, windproof, Dust-Bowl proof--houses of earth.
I'll grab some mud and you grab some clay
So when it rains it won't wash away.
We'll build a house that'll be so strong,
The winds will sing my baby a song.
On the dirt farm, life persists, and Tike and Ella May make love in a scene worthy of D.H. Lawrence. The intimate descriptions serve a purpose, and Guthrie elevates the biological act to a representation of Tike and Ella May's oneness with the land, the farm, and each other. And yet, the land is not the Hamlins' to do with as they please--and so the building of their adobe house remains painfully out of reach. What could be simpler than making a home from bricks, and bricks from dirt? And what could be a more insidious obstacle to that dream than not owning the land on which you live and work? This is what Tike and Ella May combat and how this book makes a direct and forceful statement.
In many ways, House of Earth, originally handwritten in a Steno notebook, is a companion piece to "This Land Is Your Land." The novel falls somewhere between rural realism and proletariat protest to produce a vivid and moving portrait of the Texas Panhandle and the marginalized folk who made a life there in the 1930s.