Book #14: Tobacco Road, by Erskine Caldwell

My most recent reading venture for my Southern lit class was an especially memorable one: Tobacco Road by Erskine Caldwell is the kind of book filled with so much ridiculousness you won’t be able to stop reading. The theme of our class reading list is Southern Gothic and the Grotesque, so this isn’t exactly a book for everyone, but it’s one I found highly entertaining.

It tells the story mostly of the Lester family, dirt poor in Depression era rural Georgia. Jeeter, the family patriarch, has no way to make a living, but he believes God will eventually provide for him. His stubborn faith that something good must come eventually drives the cyclical plot, and spoiler alert: Jeeter never gets the miracle he hopes for.

The enjoyable thing about this book is just how darkly comic and insane it is. These people are hardly more civilized than animals, and the strange circumstances in which they find themselves are nothing short of dark comedy’s paradise. Tobacco Road may be a quick read, but it’s sure to leave you thinking long after the last page is turned.


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