God’s Little Acre by Erskine Caldwell
God’s Little Acre is Erskine Caldwell’s most well-known and most popularly received novel, and my favorite as well. I have read it before, but I came across this old Penguin paperback from the Forties. Held together with surgical tape, its binding cracked and broken, it appealed to me to rescue it and read it again. When i read it initially, it inspired me to seek out Caldwell’s other books; he has published at least 20 other novels, and they have been excellent as well, for the most part.
The book focuses on the half comic/half tragic antics of a family and community of poor illiterate Georgia farmers, as many of Caldwell’s books do. The coarse antics of the cast of characters are honed to a fine edge by a deep, underlying bitterness and an intimate description of the cruelty of extreme poverty. Caldwell does not have much of an ear for eye dialect (deliberately using non-standard spelling to display a dialect or other pronunciation), and the novel would have benefited from the the speech of the characters being a little tougher, a little looser. Grade: B+
My copy is the fourth printing from September of 1946 of the Penguin mass market paperback edition from March 1946.