Woody Guthrie novel to be published … with help from Johnny Depp
A novel by folk singer Woody Guthrie will be published next year, with help from Johnny Depp. House of Earth, which Guthrie finished in 1947 but never released, is being edited by Depp and author Douglas Brinkley.
IBNA: According to guardian, Depp and Brinkley revealed their plans in a new essay for the New York Times Book Review. House of Earth is Guthrie's only "fully realised" novel, they said, influenced by his experiences in America's Dust Bowl, as well as John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. Tracing the story of Tike and Ella May Hamlin, "hardscrabble farmers" in Texas, it is a "searing portrait of the Panhandle and its marginalised Great Depression residents". Despite a slightly esoteric focus on the importance of adobe housing, House of Earth also includes graphic sex, including "a scorching lovemaking scene on a hay bale".
At the time of its writing, Guthrie apparently shared House of Earth's first chapter with musicologist Alan Lomax, who called it "quite simply the best material I'd ever seen written about that section of the country". But Guthrie only showed the finished manuscript to one person, film-maker Irving Lerner, and it languished for decades in a Coney Island closet. After learning of its existence in the late 90s, Brinkley finally tracked down the manuscript last year, with help from Guthrie's daughter, Nora.
Since then, Brinkley has teamed up with Depp, whom he met via Hunter S Thompson. The pair previously worked together on soundtrack liner notes for Gonzo, a documentary about their notorious mutual friend. They recently presented House of Earth to Bob Dylan; the singer was reportedly "bowled over" and "surprised by the genius [of the prose]".
Born in 1912, Guthrie was one of America's most important folk singers and a principal influence for songwriters such as Dylan, Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen. He is best known for his song This Land Is Your Land, as well as compositions such as Pastures of Plenty, 1913 Massacre and Do Re Mi.
House of Earth will be issued by a "major New York publisher" next spring.
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