Read God's Little Acre by Erskine Caldwell Online


Caldwell’s blockbuster bestseller: In the Depression-era Deep South, destitute farmer Ty Ty Walden struggles to raise a family on his own Single father and poor Southern farmer Ty Ty Walden has a plan to save his farm and his family: He will tear his fields apart until he finds gold. While Ty Ty obsesses over his fool’s quest, his sons and daughters search in vain for tCaldwell’s blockbuster bestseller: In the Depression-era Deep South, destitute farmer Ty Ty Walden struggles to raise a family on his ownSingle father and poor Southern farmer Ty Ty Walden has a plan to save his farm and his family: He will tear his fields apart until he finds gold. While Ty Ty obsesses over his fool’s quest, his sons and daughters search in vain for their own dreams of instant happiness—whether from money, violence, or sex. God’s Little Acre is a classic dark comedy, a satire that lampoons a broken South while holding a light to the toll that poverty takes on the hopes and dreams of the poor themselves. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Erskine Caldwell including rare photos and never-before-seen documents courtesy of the Dartmouth College Library....

Title : God's Little Acre
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ISBN : 11722076
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 228 Pages
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God's Little Acre Reviews

  • Howard
    2018-12-12 13:24

    What William Faulkner implies, Erskine Caldwell records. -- Chicago TribuneCaldwell writes with a full-blooded gutsy vitality that makes him akin to the truly great. -- San Francisco ChronicleAt one time God's Little Acre (1932) was the most popular novel ever published, selling a reported fourteen million copies. But in the process, the book ignited a firestorm of controversy, leading to numerous efforts to suppress it.A year earlier, Caldwell's Tobacco Road was published. It became a runaway best-seller after it was adapted as a stage play. When the play ended its long run years later, it was the longest-running play in Broadway's history. The play spurred book sales and eventually ten million copies were sold.Caldwell's portrayal of poor white southern tenant farmers who had been exploited by their landlords outraged many southerners and received mixed reviews from critics. There were also charges that its explicit sexual scenes constituted obscenity and it was banned from many libraries, including in his hometown, and efforts were made to suppress it elsewhere.That was only the beginning. God's Little Acre was even more controversial.Once again Caldwell wrote about the dire straits of poor white rural people who when faced with choices rarely chose the right one. But it also focuses on southern textile mill hands who are exploited by their employers. At one plant the workers strike for higher wages and a shorter work week, but because they are deprived of union protection the owners lock them out and shut down the mill. There is no doubt that Caldwell was influenced by several strikes by southern textile workers that occurred in the late '20's and early '30's, strikes that were in response to the fact that they were the lowest paid textile workers in the nation. While Caldwell again presented his story as a curious combination of black humor and tragedy, a combination that confuses critics -- not to mention readers -- God's Little Acre became very serious -- deadly serious -- when it turned from the humorous efforts of Ty Ty Walden and his sons to find gold on their farm to an attempt by Ty Ty's son-in-law to forcibly re-open the textile plant that has kept him and his co-workers unemployed for a year and a half. The sexual scenes in God's Little Acre are even more explicit than in Tobacco Road. And while they are relatively mild by today's standards, they were not mild by the standards of that day.In 1933, Caldwell and his publisher, Viking Press, were hauled into court on a charge of disseminating pornography. It was reported that more than sixty writers, editors, and literary critics rallied to his support. Caldwell's defense was that if his book was obscene it was because the truth was obscene. The judge ruled in his favor, declaring that the book was literature and not pornography. However, that did not deter other efforts to suppress the book. But what would-be book banners never seem to learn is that all that publicity spurs sales and the novel became not only Caldwell's biggest seller, but one of the biggest ever.The book was still very controversial many, many years later and that is why I tucked my copy inside my lit book during my sophomore year in high school. I knew that it was going to be a lot more interesting than my assigned reading. Well, I must confess that it wasn't just the controversy. It was also the lurid cover featuring a scantily-clad, well-endowed young lady on the cover of the paperback re-issue that I possessed. But that's another story. You probably already know the meaning of the book's title by now, but if not, I don't wish to be a spoiler. I'll let the publisher's blurb describing the book do that.

  • Richard Derus
    2018-12-03 09:29

    GOD'S LITTLE ACREERSKINE CALDWELLOpen Road Media$1.99 Kindle edition, available nowRating: 3.75* of fiveThe University of Georgia Says: Like Tobacco Road, this novel chronicles the final decline of a poor white family in rural Georgia. Exhorted by their patriarch Ty Ty, the Waldens ruin their land by digging it up in search of gold. Complex sexual entanglements and betrayals lead to a murder within the family that completes its dissolution. Juxtaposed against the Waldens' obsessive search is the story of Ty Ty's son-in-law, a cotton mill worker in a nearby town who is killed during a strike.First published in 1933, God's Little Acre was censured by the Georgia Literary Commission, banned in Boston, and once led the all-time best-seller list, with more than ten million copies in print. (This is the edition I read in 2012, which has a foreword by Lewis Nordan that I consider very important to read.)Open Road Media Says: Caldwell’s blockbuster bestseller: In the Depression-era Deep South, destitute farmer Ty Ty Walden struggles to raise a family on his ownSingle father and poor Southern farmer Ty Ty Walden has a plan to save his farm and his family: He will tear his fields apart until he finds gold. While Ty Ty obsesses over his fool’s quest, his sons and daughters search in vain for their own dreams of instant happiness—whether from money, violence, or sex.God’s Little Acre is a classic dark comedy, a satire that lampoons a broken South while holding a light to the toll that poverty takes on the hopes and dreams of the poor themselves.This ebook features an illustrated biography of Erskine Caldwell including rare photos and never-before-seen documents courtesy of the Dartmouth College Library.**THE E-BOOK EDITIONS ARE ON SALE FOR BANNED BOOKS WEEK 2016**My Review: First published in 1933, when the author was a mere slip of a thirty-year-old, this novel starts in a hole and keeps digging deeper and deeper. Literally, not metaphorically. Well, literally AND metaphorically.Ty Ty and his sons are poor white Southern Americans in the grimmest economic times of the 20th century. There was revolution brewing because of the depth of the economic crisis, and the complete absence of any safety net for anyone at all. Ty Ty and his boys, like modern-day conservatives, are digging for gold in their unpromising Georgia home's unyielding land, and finding lots of dirt and not much else. The womenfolk are trying to keep food on the table and as many rapists as possible outside. The ones at home, well, we all have our crosses to bear, don't we?Since the land's being dug up for gold instead of farmed for food, the boys go off to work in the textile mills. Yes Virginia, there once was a textile industry in the USA. Now it's all in Pakistan, where a couple dollars a month is a (barely) living wage. Mill owners naturally want to keep their costs down to maximize profits, and families are going hungry to make sure the rich get richer (is this sounding familiar?), until the unions come to town. With predictable results.There's death, there's misery, there's hard work followed by failure, there's more misery, the end. And what an end! What a beautiful piece of writing this is, and how very grim the picture it paints in its simple shapes and clear colors. There is nothing unclear or muddy about the book, except the minds of the characters, and that is by the author's design.The search for gold isn't as stupid as it sounds. The Georgia north was Cherokee country until white folks found gold in them thar hills and booted the native inhabitants off the land. In the novel, some few flakes are found, but never enough to do what Ty Ty wants, which is free him and his family from want and dependence on others. It works well as a metaphor for the frayed and threadbare Murrikin dream, too: Keep working keep working keep working and the rewards will (not) come! Or if they come, at what cost, and ultimately to what end?The title, God's Little Acre, refers to Ty Ty's gift of one acre of his farmland to God to support the church. But because Ty Ty wants gold for himself and his family, he moves the location of the acre at will, so he'll be sure not to give his gold away. Not so unfamiliar here, either, is it?Murder, betrayal, lust, rage, and that's all before we get to the workplace! Is it any wonder this book was called obscene by the forces of reaction? It *was* obscene! The horrible exploitive relationships in every single nook and cranny of the world the characters inhabit is obscene. The dreadful ignorance, the grinding and maliciously intentional poverty, all of it obscene!Sadly, with the slow withering of liberalism, the story's outlines are rapidly recrudescing in the modern Murrika being carved from the living flesh of the unwashed masses too drugged on the crack of an American Dream they will never, ever attain by Lotto or hard work or virtue rewarded. The horror is we've been here before, and a few brave and good men tried to steer us away from this hideous abyss. And here we are, back again.Sick-making, isn't it? Read the book, and use it as a cautionary tale.

  • Teresa
    2018-12-03 07:12

    Yes, this is the cover of the edition I read, and it's both right and wrong: the house should not be a wooden shack; the woman was not wearing a mini-dress (or slip) or high heels; and the hair of the woman on the bed should be brown.In the comments section of the last book I finished, Zola's Nana, my friend Howard (and Erskine Caldwell expert) said its theme would segue nicely into this one. He was right of course, especially with its depiction of sexuality. He said it was the first time he'd linked the two authors (Caldwell was born the year after Zola died and in a vastly different kind of place than Paris), but a blurb by the San Francisco Chronicle included with this edition agrees. The striking workers at the cotton mill evoked another recently finished book, Neel Mukherjee's The Lives of Others, another depressing reminder that worldwide social and economic injustices have not gone away and probably never will. The patriarch Ty Ty with his never-ending digging foresees a Beckettian protagonist, or perhaps harkens back to a Quixotian one.As with Tobacco Road, what Caldwell believes is ambiguous. Is he advocating free love, a surrendering to our animal nature, the suppression of those instincts being the root cause of tragic conflicts? I doubt it. And though it may not seem so in the beginning, Caldwell affords the characters here more dignity than those of Tobacco Road. He portrays the ignorance and inherent racism, but also points to small growths, as when Ty Ty realizes the young albino man is actually a person.As with the end of Tobacco Road, Caldwell displays a lyricism he uses sparingly, and thus to great effect. It's in the description of the sameness of the yellow houses in the company town; in the son-in-law Will's visions of the "ivy-walled mills", "the bloody-lipped men" and "the girls with eyes like morning-glories"; and in the subversive speech of the two black men near the end.But what most struck me as I read on is if Caldwell's Tobacco Road can be compared to and contrasted with Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath (which Howard and I did), the same can be done with Steinbeck's East of Eden and this novel, which anticipates the former by almost twenty years. Though not as obvious (Steinbeck is always more obvious), this is a Cain-and-Abel story too. The titles are reminiscent of each other as well, as if God's acre (a wonderful symbol!) is also somewhere east of Eden.

  • R.W. Ridley
    2018-11-21 12:28

    It is quite possible that God’s Little Acre has now become my favorite book. It’s inspired me to read more of Erskine Caldwell’s novels. I can’t believe no one has recommended him to me before. He is a master at the art of character development. If you read it expecting your standard story structure of introduction, conflict and conclusion, you’ll be disappointed. Caldwell somehow manages to create a compelling story that centers on character development through conflict after conflict. Ty Ty is desperate to find gold on his property. Will is desperate to turn the power on at the mill. Pluto is anxious about counting votes for the upcoming election for sheriff. Darling Jill is desperate to sow her wild oats. Every man is desperate to ravage Griselda. The book is a boiling caldron of desperation and sexual tension. There are no hidden messages in this book. The book gets its title from Ty Ty’s offering to God. He has set aside a single acre on his land and dedicated it to God. Should he strike gold on that acre, all of it would go to the church. Ty Ty relocates the acre whenever he wants to dig in God’s little acre because he doesn’t want to risk giving his ‘lode’ to the church. This book was published in 1933 so it is full of racially insensitive language and stereotypes. Women are nothing more than sexual objects. Part of that is the era in which it was written, and the region in which it is written about. Part of it is Caldwell’s writing philosophy. I found an old interview in The Paris Review with Caldwell where he is asked whether or not he has control over his characters. This is his answer;“I have no influence over them. I’m only an observer, recording. The story is always being told by the characters themselves. In fact, I’m often critical, or maybe ashamed, of what some of them say and do—their profanity or their immorality. But I have no control over it.”As a writer, I totally agree with this approach to writing. You can’t censor your characters even if your beliefs are in opposition to theirs. If you do, then you’re not writing an honest story. Life can be ugly and unfair. As a writer, you have to allow the grotesque to be told.BTW – Caldwell received a lot of grief in his life for the way he depicted the south. Southerner’s hated that he focused on the poverty and ignorance. Margaret Mitchell publicly criticized him, which is odd because I’ve always considered Scarlett O’Hara to be one of the great sociopaths in American literature, but I digress. I bring this particular criticism up because if reality TV has taught us anything it is that Caldwell was dead on with his depiction of the south. I’ve never seen the show, but I’ve seen clips of Honey Boo Boo online and there are definitely shades of God’s Little Acre in that family. I’ve lived in the south for 35 years now, and I can say with great confidence that Caldwell was spot on.In short, this book is a classic that should be required reading for anyone who aspires to be a writer.

  • Literary Chic
    2018-12-04 05:21

    I wanted to like God's Little Acre. I read that it had been banned in its day so I immediately wanted to read it. Unfortunately, it didn't get far with me.The main plot has the patriarch and his poor family digging for gold on a Georgian farm. Additionally, there's a decent storyline about unfair labor practices in a mill. On those two main plots, lean the most base, over-sexed adult characters you may ever read.In the last couple of chapters, the sexual antics cease and Caldwell has the protagonist shift to a wise patriarch. There is a BRILLIANT conversation towards the end between the patriarch and a daughter-in-law. Although there is so much truth in the patriarch's soliloquy, I think there must have been better ways to reach the moral of the story than the route Caldwell took.Chapters 18-20: 4 starsChapters 1-17: 2 stars

  • Shaun
    2018-12-06 10:14

    Another odd little gem from Erskine Caldwell. Just finished reading Tobacco Road, which I enjoyed and so was anxious to read this, and alas was not disappointed.Interestingly, I can't exactly pinpoint what I liked, which makes me like it that much more. The story and the characters aren't meant to be taken at face value and in that way, this reads more like a fable/fairy tale than it does anything else. As with Tobacco Road, the characters are caricatures and the story itself borders on the absurd. Yet, there's something that resonates so clearly as true, so much so that it's hard not look for the deeper meaning.Interestingly, reading through many reviews, it seems to speak differently to different people, and not at all to some. So here's my take:Though filled with religious undertones, I didn't get that this was a statement on religion outside of its cultural context. I don't think this was a comment about race or the role or value of women nor a scathing commentary necessarily directed only at the South (though he tackles specific issues present at the time it was written). I also wouldn't reduce this to soft porn as some reviews I have read do.If anything, I felt this was a story about man and his struggle against societal forces (whatever those might be), and thus had and still has far reaching implications. You have the poor, struggling farmers, specifically Ty Ty with his unending search for gold and his odd appreciation for his daughter-in-law's beauty. You have the cotton mills and their use and abuse of workers. You have members of a family struggling against each other, yet simultaneously supporting each other. You have a distinction and subsequent tension between the mill workers who make their living off of machinery and the farmers who still work off the land. You have the little men against the big corporations. You have the base desires, food and sex, and man's basic need for purpose and dignity. And then you have this all-too-true social hierarchy in which the repressed are all too happy to repress others when given the chance. In short, you have civilized animals.This is one of those books that you have to ponder long after the fact. I would love to see this performed live, as amidst all the profound ideas is a humor that would be even more obvious on stage.Bottom line: I think this is going on my favorites shelf.Would recommend this to anyone who appreciates well-crafted and relevant writing, and willing to dig beyond the surface. Unlike Ty Ty, you're bound to find gold.A favorite excerpt:Not really a spoiler but to keep the review manageable...(view spoiler)[Ty Ty got up. "It's a pity all folks ain't got the sense dogs are born with.""The trouble with people is that they try to fool themselves into believing that they're different from the way God made them. You go to church and a preacher tells you things that deep down in your heart you know ain't so. But most people are so dead inside that they believe it and try to make everybody else live that way. People out to live like God made us to live. When you sit down by yourself and feel what's in you, that's the real way to live. It's feeling. Some people talk about your head being the thing to go by, but it ain't so. Your head gives you sense to show you how to deal with people when it comes to striking a bargain and things like that, but it can't feel for you. People have got to feel for themselves as God made them to fell. It's folks who let their head run them who make all the mess of living. Your head can't make you love a man, if you don't feel like loving him. It's got to be a feeling down inside of you like you and Will had."AND"There was a mean trick played on us somewhere. God put us in the bodies of animals and tried to make us act like people. That was the beginning of trouble. If He had made us like we are, and not called us people, the last one of us would know how to live. A man can't live, feeling himself from the inside, and listening to what the preachers say. He can't do both, but he can do one or the other. He can live like we were made to live, and feel himself on the inside or he can live like the preachers say, and be dead on the inside. A man has got God in him from the start, and when he is made to live like a preacher says to live, there's going to be trouble. (hide spoiler)]

  • Tom
    2018-11-30 12:21

    God's Little Acre is a great exposition on man's relationship with God. We make promises to God--Dedicate our little acre to him--and then move it and change our promise when things don't work out the way we planned. However, this review is an excuse to tell of my meeting Erskine Caldwell. It was in Klamath Falls, Oregon, in the Waldorf Bar and Grill and pool hall. I was probably about 14 years old. Roger Owens and I used to save a couple of dollars and then hitchhike into Klamath Falls to shoot pool at the Waldorf. I met many interesting characters there; enough to write many novels just describing their lives. One day I was engaged in a conversation with a down and out drunk who had obviously been on a several day binge. After talking for a few minutes, we introduced ourselves. The drunk said, and I am paraphrasing the best to my memory, "I'm Erskine Caldwell. I'm a writer. Maybe you've heard of me. I wrote God's Little Acre and a bunch of shit like that."I had read God's Little Acre, so I smiled and said my name is Tom Sanders. Glad to meet you. I patronised this poor delusional drunk, and told the story to my friends later that day. Then, a couple of days later, I read in The Herald and News that Erskine Caldwell had been to Klamath Falls for a book talk and signing. They had a picture of him, and sure enough it was the down-and-out drunk I had talked to for over and hour. I guess Erskine had a bit of a problem with alcohol, and used to disappear for weeks at a time, ending up on skid row. So it goes. Oh--another interesting bit of trivia: Erskine Caldwell was a heavy smoker and died of emphysema. He is is buried in Scenic Hills Memorial Park in Ashland, Oregon. Since he died in Arizona, I don't know why they brought his body to Ashland. Perhaps it was the wish of his fourth and final wife.

  • Mientras Leo
    2018-12-12 08:10

    Otro libro sobre la miseria de las personas. Fantástico

  • Ned
    2018-12-01 13:06

    Picked this up in a little independent bookstore while visiting Chapel Hill, NC, to have a little southern memento in the form of a little old (but well preserved) Signet pocket sized paperback. I think I payed $3 in cash. A strange little tale of the south (Augusta Georgia) where Ty Ty (the elder) digs hole after hole in vain trying to find gold. He harangues and bullies and tricks his adult children into his pitiful endeavor. This book has all the strangeness of O’Conner or McCuthers yet is written in a simple, childish style with mature themes. Published in 1939, it is hard to image these simpletons exist (of course they did, and do), but they have a native, cunning sexual intelligence. It is about farmers and working men, and their love/hatred of labor control and capitalism. But the obsession is the primacy of 0/sex, as when Ty Ty opines unabashedly and openly about his daughter in law:p. 78. “I ain’t ashamed of nothing”, Ty Ty said heatedly. “I reckon Griselda is just about the prettiest girl I ever did see. There ain’t a man alive who’ve ever seen a finer looking pair of rising beauties as she’s got. Why? Man alive! They’re that pretty it makes me feel sometimes like getting right down on my hands and knees like these old hound dogs you see chasing after a flowing bitch. You just ache to get down and lick something. That’s the way, and its God’s own truth as he would tell it himself if he could talk like the rest of us. You don’t mean to sit there and say you’ve seen them, do you?” Will asked, winking at Griselda and Rosamond. “Seen them? Why, man alive! I spend all my spare time trying to slip up on her when she ain’t looking to see them more. Seen them? Man alive! Just like a rabbit likes clover! When you’ve seen them once, that’s the only start. You can’t sit calm and peaceful and think of nothing else until you see them again. And every time you see them it makes you feel just a little bit more like that old hound dog I was talking about. You’re sitting out there in the yard somewhere all calm and pleased and all of a sudden you’ll get a notion in your head. You sit there, telling it to go away and let you rest, and all the time there’s something getting up inside of you. You can’t stop it. Because you can’t put your hands on it, you can’t talk to it, because you can’t make it here.The women are equally base, and sensual, as when the beautiful Griselda enjoys the strangeness of life in town, and feels the pulse of humanity and its crawling essence:p. 132. Through the open windows the soft summer night floated into the room. It was a soft night, and it was warm, but with the evening air there was something else that excited Griselda. She could hear sounds, voices, murmurs, that were like none she had ever heard before. A woman’s laughter, a child’s excited cry, and the faint gurgle of a waterfall somewhere below all came into the room together. There was a feeling in the air of living people just like herself, and this she had never felt before. The new knowledge that all those people out there, all those sounds, were as real as she herself was made her heart beat faster. Never had the noises of Augusta sounded like these, in the city there were other sounds of another race of people. It was gorillas.The men revere the raw power of women, and fear them for their secret knowledge and power. The hapless Pluto observes the powerful Will, as he indulges his passion with purposeful ignorance of the consequences… he follows his desire like a wild animal, oblivious to bystanders: p. 140. Beside her, Pluto was bewildered. He had not felt the things she had. She knew no man would. Pluto was speechless with wonder at Will and Griselda, but he was unmoved. Darling Jill had felt the surge of their lives pass through the room while Will stood before them tearing Griselda’s clothes to shreds, and Rosamond had. But Pluto was a man, and he would never understand how they felt. Even Will, who brought it, had acted only with the guidance of his want with Griselda. She was stunning, standing in the windowsill naked.A strange aspect of this book was the exact repetition of passages, for example the masses of young ladies in the mill, over and over…p. 149. It looked as if everything would come true. Here in the millyard now were the mild eyed valley girls with erect breasts behind the mill windows they would look like morning glories. The fear of urban life, represented by Pluto’s terror, as he hopes to return to the country:p. 156. He had become afraid of the man beside him, he was afraid the man would suddenly turn with a knife in his hand and cut his throat from ear to ear. He knew then that he was out of place in a cotton mill town. The country, back at home in Marion, was the place for him to go as quickly as possible. He promised himself he would never again leave it if only he could get back safely this time.The alpha males rule in this tale, as the beautiful Griselda feels the power in the aging Ty Ty, and nostalgically connects to him:p. 162. I would have stayed with Will the rest of my life. Because when a man does that to a woman, Pa, it makes love so strong nothing in the world can stop it. It must be God in people to do that. It’s something, anyway, I have it now. Ty Ty patted her hand. He could think of nothing to say, because there beside him sat a woman who knew as he did a secret of living. After awhile he breathed deeply, and lifted his head from her shoulder. “He’ll never learn, Pa, Buck just isn’t like you and Will. A man has to be born that way at the start.”Truthfully, I’ve never read so much misogyny and crudity – an uncivilized ragtag family with no scruples or education. They remind me of why we need the constraints of religion – to elevate the baseness of such people. But the book is told seductively, in a kind of secret code that I just could not seem to unravel. It was entertaining, and the mystery of these people (who are inexplicably never described in terms of age or physical appearance). I’ll read Caldwell again, and I’ll see what others have to say about God’s little acre (a metaphor for tithing, and how man tries to trick and cheat the almighty to line his own pockets).

  • Paul Gaya Ochieng Simeon Juma
    2018-11-28 12:28

    I have taken quite a while before writing a review on this as I was travelling. When I picked up this book, I actually didn't know what to expect. But the title is what caught my eye. God's little acre, is a peace of land belonging to Ty Ty, the father to Darling Jill, Buck and Shaw. He is a poor man who's looking for gold. He goes around digging his land in search of the mineral but doesn't find any. He has however preserved God's little acre, as a sacrifice to God. Most of his family members think it's a bad idea digging around, rather than putting the land into better use. Something that can actually earn him some income. Ty ty however, is adamant and believes that one day he will strike gold. There is also some biskering between members of his family. Mainly the row revolves around Griselda, Buck's wife who is a very beautiful dame. He is admired by every male member of Ty ty's family and this causes a lot of distress to her husband buck. Most of the family members are poor and still live with their father. Only Jim is well of but he's mean and doesn't help any of them. This a story of a poor family searching for gold, trying to live together, with as little affection towards one another. Tbey are crude and don't care so much about how others feel. This leads eventually to murder.

  • Pamela
    2018-12-07 10:09

    I'm a big fan of Southern Gothic, and this is pretty much as good as it gets. Hard to believe it was written in the early 30s. Very hard. Caldwell's style may be a bit off-putting to some--I've read reviews that slam him for the repetition of images and phrases, but if you just sit back and let the words flow over you, it's mesmerizing. Much like Things Fall Apart the story seems like nothing more than a simple fable while you are reading it. It's afterwards, when you can't get it out of your mind that you realize its true brilliance.

  • Kelli
    2018-12-07 05:06

    My favourite part of this book is the very last sentence. I don't remember what the sentence was about, I was too busy celebrating that id come to the end of this soap opera of a novel to notice the content.Honestly, this is the worst book I've read in a long time. In fact I can't remember reading a book to the end that was as disgusting as this one. There was not one likeable character in the entire book. There was no plot or subplot that did not disgust me. Just a thoroughly wretched reading experience.

  • B. Tollison
    2018-11-22 08:24

    Two words: Very base. The characters are all simple, self-centered, and obsessed with having sex, mostly with the exceptionally attractive Griselda. Griselda, like all the women in God's Little Acre, is portrayed as a passive sex object for the men to fight over; which they do, regularly. As a portrait of what gender roles might have been like in the 1930's, and might still be like in some parts of the American South, this dynamic might have some merit, but, since we're only ever given a male's perspective, it's difficult to see past the blatant misogyny. The book is clearly a product of its time, and so I grant it some allowance for that, but it's that misogyny that renders all the women in God's Little Acre as incredibly one dimensional and replaceable, and that is something I'm not so willing to forgive.The only characters with any depth are the father and protagonist, Ty Ty, and the son in law, Will. For over 15 years, instead of using his farm to grow crops, Ty Ty has been digging massive holes all over his property in search of gold. He occasionally ruminates about God and life, but his philosophising never ventures beyond a simple acceptance of his and others' place in the world and of God's mysterious ways. God's Little Acre refers to a small section of his land of which he has promised to donate the proceeds of anything grown on it to the church. Only he never grows anything and actually continues to shift the piece of nominal land so that he can dig it for gold and not have to subsequently give up what he finds to the church. This is probably the best part of the story for me. A commentary on greed and the tricks people will pull in an attempt to trick their own beliefs and gods. It's a pity the story didn't offer any more of this kind of insight.Will is one of many cotton mill workers out of work due to a labour and pay dispute. He spends most of his time venting and worrying about getting his job back. Through Will's situation we learn a little about rural life during the great depression and gain some insight into the effects of labour disputes on the working class but beyond that, it doesn't feel like Caldwell was saying much else. In fact, in one of the later scenes, Will becomes a beacon of antiquated, masculine self-indulgence. He literally tears a woman's clothes off and rips them to shreds in front of her. This apparently has her loins burning so badly (not to mention the loins of one of the on-looking women) that she has no choice but to surrender herself to him. There's nothing in the scene that suggests (at least to me) that Caldwell was trying to say anything other than describing base people carrying out base acts. (Slight spoiler) We don't even get to see inside the head of Will's wife who was also witness to his chest thumping, caveman act, in fact, she doesn't say anything at all and so is rendered almost entirely irrelevant. Just another useless object. (End of slight spoiler)The fact that everyone's sexual indiscretions (of which there are many) go with virtually no consequence not only renders such acts meaningless, and thus uninteresting to read, but never elevates the story any higher than soap-opera level entertainment. I found it difficult to sympathise with characters that are so unbelievably simple-minded. They seem incapable of making correct decisions or of caring about anything above food, sex, and (for Ty Ty) digging up gold. Without any other dimensions, I really had no reason to care about what happened to anyone by the end of the story. Caldwell succeeds in creating a portrait of characters controlled only by their base urges but doesn't actually provide much in the way of insight. It's one thing to point out such banal, circular behaviour, and to put it onto paper, but it's a completely different thing to actually convey the potential depth and substance such acts can impart on the people involved and on us as readers. I'm sure some people could invent symbolism and interpretin any creative number of ways, but I feel that would be looking for meaning where there isn't any, or at least not enough to warrant looking for in the first place.While there is some humour in God's Little Acre (mostly at the start) it is nowhere near adequate enough to carry the story, unlike in Caldwell's other novel, Tobacco Road. While both novels are written in an almost identical style with similar ideas and characters, at least the family in Tobacco Road are a little more justified in their baseness since they're always on the verge of starvation. Or maybe the only difference between the two novels is that I happened to read Tobacco Road first and so was already tired of Caldwell's style by the time I came to God's Little Acre. It is a style that is easy to read (much like Steinbeck), but offers little more substance than an episode of Coronation Street.

  • sappho_reader
    2018-11-20 05:23

    “There was a mean trick played on us somewhere. God put us in the bodies of animals and tried to make us act like people. That was the beginning of trouble.”Tobacco Road by Erskine Caldwell left a big impression on me so it was only natural to seek out Caldwell's other books. God’s Little Acre was published just one year after Tobacco Road and while both focus on the rural poor in Georgia during the Great Depression, they are somewhat different in tone. This book was more serious and focused on the failure of man to work the ground (the demise of the sharecropping system) and machinery (cotton mill strike in Carolina). Absent is the violent, absurd in-your-face brutality that was so apparent in Tobacco Road. With that said, there is some glimmer of the absurdity that I was seeking. After all, this is a tale of Ty Ty who has been digging holes on his farm for 15 years to discover gold and kidnaps an albino from his house to act as a conjur without any moral qualms at all! Caldwell's use of overt sexuality earned him a day in court and another place on the banned books list. A good book highlighting the social problems of the era, I was just hoping for more redneck dysfunction.

  • Elizabeth
    2018-11-16 10:01

    the day that Pluto implores the Waldens to go into the swamp to catch an albino man to help them divine gold, he ponders his relationship with the beautiful Darling Jill: "she was that kind of girl, and he knew of no way to change her. but as long as she would sit still and let him hug her, he was completely satisfied; it was when she slapped him on the face and hit him the belly with her fists that he was wholly displeased." this may not give you a real taste of how INSANE this book is. an important cultural read? maybe. but know that you are delving into madness.

  • Chris
    2018-11-21 07:05

    perfect southern goth, with one of the best families of all time

  • Helga Cohen
    2018-11-18 09:30

    Great Depression in the South so he knew how to write about this time well. This book took place during the depression south. It is a funny, sensual, raw and very powerful novel with a tragic theme and was banned when it first came out. It was especially reviled in the south.He observed firsthand the trials of rural life and the poverty of tenant farmers. They are themes he includes in his works. His novels look at race, religious hypocrisy and greed. This book had a little of all of that. He brilliantly captured the tragedy of American life during the depression years.The Walden farm is slowly falling to ruin as fewer and fewer crops are being planted because Ty Ty is digging holes in the ground in search of gold. His sons are antagonistic and the black sharecroppers are starving. To pacify the Lord, he designates a parcel of land to harvest and give the proceeds to the Lord but he keeps moving it in search of gold as he does not wish to give to the church or the Lord any gold if he does dig it up. And the sons have their minds on the other’s wives and not on digging which has gone on for years. Tragedy ensues.Even though this book was banned in Boston and other places and attacked by the NY Society, it went on to sell more than 10 million copies. It is quite amazing to look at it in perspective today and see how little progress has been made in society in some areas.

  • Kirk Smith
    2018-11-29 10:06

    This sweet little tragicomedy had me grinning most of the way through. This is early Southern Lit from 1933 and pretty advanced for the period. Sex was referred to as "doing it"! I thought that was something more current but as I think of it the language has always been there. There was a reference to "doing the dozens" that has to be the earliest reference in literature. Quirky, humorous and implausible sometimes, but wonderful because it's such an early example of the genre I love. Caldwell likes repetition and it occurs almost as a chorus/refrain with this line: "These were the girls of the Valley whose breasts were erect and whose faces were like morning-glories when they stood in the window of the ivy-walled mill." Another line often used introduced me to a new word: "What in the pluperfect hell is an albino, Pluto?" Pluperfect, kind of the best way to describe this book after finishing!

  • Henry Chavez
    2018-12-02 12:05

    I don't know who recommended this book or if I simply discovered it by accident and put it on my list, but I am glad I found it. I guess it can be characterized as an easy read, but that is what makes it so excellent. The simplicity of the writing belies its true complexity. I am of the opinion that the style directly affects your view of the story, it's plot lines and characters. You're quickly brought into a different reality and one that is exceedingly interesting. The narrative is brilliant and artistically portrayed for the reader. Some folks here have made negative comments about the repetition in some of the dialogue. However, it seems to me that this was one of the ingenious ways the author painted his story. One would not complain that a sculpture looked too real, so why do it with this very real work of art. I enjoyed it marvelous much.

  • Julia
    2018-12-13 05:05

    What an incredibly disheartening, sad, revolting a skillfully written book. I picked this up because I wondered why this classic was never assigned in my American literature courses. I knew within three pages. It is the story of a very poor southern farm family. This is the first time that I read about farmers where I didn't have any compassion for them. They are all immoral, shallow and uncaring people, who by the way, never farm the land but irrationally dig for gold that they have no cogent reason to believe exists. I looked up the film on Turner Classics and read that it had a wonderful cast and crew. Nevertheless I do not think that I could bear to watch a film about these miserable characters. That said, Caldwell is a terrific writer.

  • Bill
    2018-11-30 08:25

    Much of this is shocking today, I can't imagine what it was eighty years ago!Fascinating book. What starts out as a farce devolves into terrible tragedy over just a couple of hundred pages. Caldwell's use of language changes to match that shift, which is interesting to see and it hints at something deeper going on in the story. There's not much to admire about anyone, or anything, in the story, as Caldwell clearly intended with the one faint glimmer of "God's Little Acre" itself.A New York court case wherein Caldwell and his publisher were accused of (and acquitted of) distributing pornography remains an important precedent in the establishment of artists' First Amendment rights in freedom of expression. For that we can all be thankful.

  • Dana
    2018-12-05 06:27

    I wish this book did not exist. I actively hated it, I hated the characters, I hated the author for dreaming up the characters, I hated the Era that would describe people and norms in this way. I hated the readers who would think something this idiotic is titilating. yet, I finished the book, because I could sense some sort of literary place it belonged to. I saw outside the moronic behavior more than just the obvious tragedy of poverty and lack of educcagion, but the meta experience of the set of readers who at that time had probably not been exposed to characters such as these.

  • Jim
    2018-11-22 09:06

    Erskine Caldwell's God's Little Acre is a potboiler, pure and simple. It is the story of Ty Ty Walden and his family, whose dreams of finding gold on his property are dimmed because his lovely daughter-in-law Griselda is a subject of contention with all the menfolk who meet her, even though she is married to Ty Ty's son Buck.As a potboiler, it's pretty good. The girls are always having their clothes ripped off in the presence of lascivious men; and Ty Ty is surprised that he is having so much trouble getting men to dig with him for gold. By the end of the novel, he has still not found any gold, but he has found more trouble than he can handle.Caldwell is capable at what he does, but I wouldn't make any claims of literary merit for it. I prefer Emile Zola's pot-boilers (after all, he invented the term).

  • Veronica
    2018-12-02 12:13

    After being enthralled with Tobacco Road, I was ready for more Erskine Caldwell. Equally if not even more disturbing, God’s Little Acre took human indifference and overt sexuality to a whole new level. And that’s a fact…Set primarily on an underutilized farm in Georgia and a cotton mill in Carolina, God’s Little Acre introduces the Walden family who have been digging for gold for over fifteen years to no avail. A married daughter living in Carolina with her striking husband, a strong proponent of worker’s rights, represents the emergence of the industrial revolution and union representation.The family patriarch, Ty Ty Walden lusts for gold and his daughter-in-law. He neglects farming in favor of gold digging and is joined by his two sons and in search for more help, kidnaps an albino neighbor for his purported divining abilities. When his black farm hands threaten to eat his mule since he hasn’t given them food, he counters that he will beat them if they do so. His children’s blatant licentiousness is of no concern as he believes people who give into their desires are living a more honest and natural life. Those unable to live this way are restricted by religion in his belief while he maintains an acre of his land whose profits would be turned over to God, thus the title. This acre, rather conveniently, was moved quite often as he continued digging as he feared striking it big and having to turn it over.Darling Jill Walden, the youngest daughter, is sexually unrestrained and enjoys the pleasure of many men while her father chuckles. Unabashed in her pleasure, she is indiscriminate and enjoys any man who catches her scent. She is courted by the corpulent Pluto Swint, who she will likely marry after she finds herself pregnant. A life devoted to self satisfaction alone, Darling Jill seems to be in search of the unattainable. Not likely the girl to bring home for dinner…Will Thompson, Rosamond Walden’s husband, laughs at the family’s futile attempts at digging for gold and is a devoted factory man with strong beliefs in protecting the rights of workers. He is uncomfortable at the family farm and longs to return to his home although he has been out of work for eighteen months. He attempts to take over the mills and the results are tragic. This could have been a hero, however, his debauchery makes Darling Jill appear prudish as he beds his sisters-in-law in the presence of his wife. C’mon, I know we’re sexual beings, but his behavior took away from what he was supposed to represent.What in the pluperfect hell was Mr. Caldwell trying to say? I think he had a lot to say; about the industrial revolution, about the need for union protection, and about hopelessness so he pushed the literary envelope as far as he could with regards to human desire and sexuality. Well there would certainly be no shortage of things to discuss with this interesting fellow who I’d hope would share some of his fine writing skills.My rating for God’s Little Acre is a 9 out of 10.

    2018-11-14 11:28

    Ha un magnetismo tutto suo Caldwell. È secco, brutalmente essenziale nella trama, nella costruzione dei dialoghi, nel disegno dei personaggi, nella scelta degli aggettivi e delle metafore. Usa un narratore che non si meraviglia di nessuna turpitudine o sventatezza; l'empatia poi la deve ancora cercare nel vocabolario.Situazioni e comportamenti sono fuori da tutti i nostri schemi. O almeno, da quelli che siamo abituati a collegare con la dignità, con la gestione degli impulsi, con la razionalità, con la convivenza. La bellezza della donne è selvaggia, ubriacante: la subiscono e la vivono compulsivamente, ingestibile per loro e per gli uomini. Gli uomini sono mossi da una una vitalità fuori controllo, sbattuti da forze interiori prima che storiche. Anche le scelte sulle cose della loro sopravvivenza (la coltivazione del cotone, la fabbrica, la ricerca dell'oro) le vivono come una febbre, come qualcosa di elementare che li rende irrazionali fino al delirio. La stessa idea di Dio è ridotta al puro sentimento religioso innato. La fame domina su tutto, quella dei sensi e l'altra, incombente.Sulla trama vale la stessa essenzialità primordiale dei personaggi. Spiegazioni e dissolvenze di scena sono ridotte al minimo. Tutto tagliato con l'accetta. In certi passaggi sembra di essere ai limiti della credibilità, della accettabilità logica, prima che etica. Il modo di esprimerla (lo stile dei dialoghi, soprattutto) funziona però così bene, è così coerente con tutto questo universo, non solo da reggere, ma da portare il lettore a sentirla emotivamente, quella realtà. Ed è da questo risucchio emotivo, dalla potenza espressiva cruda, basica con cui vengono rese le figure umane ed il paesaggio che nasce il magnetismo di cui parlavo.Non è poco. Anche per la possibilità che dà di vedere e soprattutto "sentire" un mondo pieno di grandissime suggestioni come quello del Sud americano degli anni tra la Grande Crisi e la Grande Guerra. Un'epoca che, in modo sinistro, sento abbia qualcosa di importante da dirci, in questo momento. Detto ciò, lascerei stare i paragoni siderali, Faulkner in testa. Ma anche i Malavoglia. Altri pianeti.

  • Maxine
    2018-12-03 10:07

    I wish I could give this book 4.5 stars. It's so close to being a 5, but not quite.The novel is about the Waldens, a Southern family digging holes in their farmland in hopes of striking gold. "God's Little Acre" is a piece of land set aside for God, but after Ty Ty Walden moves the acre to make more room for prospecting, everything goes all to hell. In a big, messy, dirty way.It seems like the point here is clear: get rid of God, bad stuff happens. However, I don't actually think the book is about that at all. The novel, with all its sexually deranged characters, is not trying to be moral. Instead, it presents a world where common decency--and stereotypes about the charming South--are disregarded completely and the reader is left to wonder what the distinction between man and animal really is. If you can stomach it, the scenes in the novel will catch you off guard in a good way. I know this book was banned and censored so many times that no one has even heard of it nowadays, but it's a very good book. You can dismiss it as a "shock value" novel, a racist novel, or a misogynist novel...but if you do, you're missing out.

  • Courtney
    2018-12-08 11:24

    At first I was a little disturbed by this book's strange sexual dynamic, but as I continued to read I found myself identifying with several of the characters and understanding their choices and desires. Caldwell's language is occasionally poetic and moving. His characters are vivid and believable, and some are unexpectedly wise. I thought the ending was a little abrupt, but overall I enjoyed God's Little Acre. I think I learned something about human behavior that makes me feel a little less judgmental.

  • Paul Jellinek
    2018-11-30 05:01

    A quirky little book from the 1930's that initially got lots of attention (and sales) from some of its explicit (for the 1930's) content, it is the story of a Georgia farmer who keeps digging holes in his property in a futile effort to find gold. The cast of characters includes his sons and daughters, their spouses, and, for comic relief, a fat man running for sheriff. There is, in fact, plenty of comedy throughout the book, until it suddenly turns dead serious in its final pages. I think that in the end I really liked this book, but I'm still not a hundred percent sure.

  • وائل المنعم
    2018-11-27 09:24

    One of the most naive novels i've ever read, I don't know how some critics consider Erskine Caldwell as an important american novelist when he writes in this silly amateur style and using this modest language.In the same time i can't ignore that the story itself is good and i read the whole 160 pages of it. The characters were attractive in some aspects. But both the good story and the attractive characters needed a good novelist.

  • Jerome
    2018-11-18 06:24

    I first read this book back about 1950 and never forgot it. I just reread it and find it just as good as I remembered it from the first time. Depression era Georgia crackers at their best / worst. The movie made in 1958 was rather poor adaptation of the book and totally missed the whole idea behind the book. I'd give the movie two stars.