Friday 13 November 2009

Friday's Forgotten Book: GOD'S LITTLE ACRE by Erskine Caldwell

This Friday's Forgotten Book first appeared on 'Open Range'.
It was not written by me but my granddaughter.

This book is set in a time of the Depression in America.
Ty Ty Walden believes that there is gold on his farm and for the past 15 years has been digging for it. The only thing that grows on his farm is holes.
He has one acre put aside for God with the promise that any profit that piece of land makes will go to God. As long as it is not the fortune in gold that he expects to make. So he keeps shifting the location of that acre.
At first he tries to be all 'scientific' in discovering the whereabouts of the gold. That is until he hears tell that there is a diviner down in the swamps. An albino who can point out where his fortune lay. So Ty Ty along with his sons, Buck and Shaw, head off to the swamps to hunt down and kidnap the albino, Dave Dawson.
While they are doing that Ty Ty sends his daughter, Darling Jill, off to fetch his son-in-law, Will Thompson, to give them a hand.
Helped by the overweight Pluto Swint, who is running for sheriff,
Darling Jill heads over to the mill town where the Thompsons live.
Now poor old Pluto has a thing for Darling Jill and will do anything to be near her but she prefers to be her own woman while, at the same time, shows that she likes a good time. Nor is she fussy.
Out of work Will Thompson turns up drunk and finishes up in bed with Darling Jill. Something that annoys her sister, Rosamund, who is Will's wife.
Will is reluctant to go back to Ty Ty Walden because he would rather go back to work. He wants to re-open the cotton mill, turn on the power and keep the looms going which would put the whole town back to work.
He gives in under pressure. But when they get home Darling Jill walks off with the albino, Dave Dawson. And Ty Ty gets a bit suggestive in his talk of Buck's wife Griselda.
While most of the book to this point is light and humourous at times from this point onwards it is a downhill ride to tragedy. Things heat up when Will Thompson comes to the decision that it is time to stop talking and do what he says. It is at the same time that it is discovered that Griselda doesn't always go shopping either and Ty Ty's lewd remarks have a consequence that leaves him in one of the holes he has dug for himself very much alone.
I was surprised to discover that this book was written in 1933 and that the publisher and author were taken to court for publishing a book with pornographic content. They also tried to have the book banned.
By today's standards it is sort of tame but I think that for the time it was pretty much way out there. The innuendo is very much to the point and as for sexual bits there is enough in the description to let the imagination do the rest.
I enjoyed the book. The style was easy to read and the characters of Ty Ty Walden and Darling Jill with her rebellious, mischievious antics really stood out. And I felt a bit sorry for Pluto Swint who had no one else to blame but himself.


pattinase (abbott) said...

A wonderful book! Thanks Ray's granddaughter!

Evan Lewis said...

Thanks, Ray. Despite hearing the title forever I had no idea what it referred to or what the book was about. This makes me feel smarter.

Laurie Powers said...

A great review, from beginning to end. I haven't read this book and I'm interested in books written during this time period, so I'll definitely be looking for this one. Thanks for the tip!