University of Oklahoma Press, Dec 7, 2011 - Fiction - 256 pages
Harlan Singer, a harmonica-playing troubadour, shows up in the Thompson family’s yard one morning. He steals their hearts with his music, and their daughter with his charm. Soon he and his fourteen-year-old bride, Sharon, are on the road, two more hobos of the Great Depression, hitchhiking and hopping freights across the Great Plains in search of an old man and the settlement of Harlan’s long-standing debt.
Finding shelter in hobo jungles and Hoovervilles, the newlyweds careen across the 1930s landscape in a giant figure eight with Oklahoma in the middle. Sharon’s growing doubts about her husband’s quest set in motion events that turn Harlan Singer into a hero while blinding her to the dark secret of his journey. A love story infused with history and folk tradition, Harpsong shows what happened to the friends and neighbors Steinbeck’s Joads left behind.
In this moving, redemptive tale inspired by Oklahoma folk heroes, Rilla Askew continues her exploration of the American story. Harpsong is a novel of love and loss, of adventure and renewal, and of a wayfaring orphan’s search for home—all set to the sounds of Harlan’s harmonica. It shows us the strength and resilience of a people who, in the face of unending despair, maintain their faith in the land.
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - GCPLreader - LibraryThing
I discovered this gem while searching through the Willa Cather Western literature prize winners. The setting is the Dust Bowl Depression era of Oklahoma. The novel tells the story of Harlan Singer, a ... Read full review
HarpsongUser Review - Not Available - Book Verdict
American Book Award-winning author Askew (creative writing, Univ. of Oklahoma;Fire in Beulah ) mixes fiction with legend and history in this extraordinary novel of Oklahoma during the Great Depression ... Read full review
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ain’t answer arms bank began believe better blood breath bull called Calm carried chest close coming couldn’t Daddy dark didn’t door dust everything eyes face feel felt floor folks front girl give gone ground guess hair hand hard Harlan harp he’d head hear heard hope inside it’s keep kids kind knew lady light listening living looked Mama mean mind minute morning mouth moving never night play pocket pulled quiet quit remember river road seemed seen Sharon side Singer sitting slow song sound standing started stay stepped stood stopped sure talking tell that’s thing thought told took town train tried trying turned voice wait walked wasn’t watched whole woman yard