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Clabbered Dirt, Sweet Grass

4.03  ·  Rating Details ·  169 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
Paulsen captures a vanishing way of life and offers a lyrical tribute to the american farm. “Paulsen’s prose is realistic and down-to-earth....Ruth Wright Paulsen’s paintings are an invitation to pause and imagine...a delight” (Christian Science Monitor). Illustrations by Ruth Wright Paulsen.
Paperback, 120 pages
Published March 30th 1994 by Harcourt Brace & Company (first published 1992)
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Apr 28, 2016 GoldGato rated it it was amazing
"This horse had the name of Harold, because I had many years ago a son named Harold until they took him, the army took him and didn't give him back and his hair was this color of the horse. Is that something, to name a horse the same as a son?"

So begins this wonderful tale of farm life. Author Gary Paulsen begins the book with this brief recollection of a horse named Harold in the quiet sigh of an old man's life. Using each season as a separate chapter, Paulsen describes the heck out of farming,
Jun 28, 2012 Sonja rated it really liked it
This was different than I expected but in a good way. It sure brought back memories of the times I spent on my mother's family's farm in WI. Not that I was there often or long but I still remember my own days on the farm - all the cooking during threshing, the big meals and the time I ate 7 ears of fresh corn on the cob for dinner because it was so delicious - and I was only 7 or 8 years old! From being in the barn, the fly paper in the kitchen, my grandmother and great aunt churning butter, ...more
Joey H.
Dec 19, 2011 Joey H. rated it really liked it
My first experience with Paulsen writing for adults. There are two very striking elements to this story: the first is Paulsen's aggressively artistic and innovative use of the comma. I know that's a weird thing to take note of, but read the story and you'll see why. The other thing that resonated with me was the totality of the storytelling. Clabbered Dirt, Sweet Grass is a complete portrait of farm life, giving equal weight to the immense beauty and horrifying brutality of the day-to-day, ...more
Sep 01, 2010 Tara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't know if many people know about this book. It's a wonderful memoir by talented children's author Gary Paulsen. He proves he is a lyrical writer for adults as well. And I love the color art plates that his wife painted to accompany this glowing tribute in 4 seasons to farm life. I highly recommend it if you like rural/nature writing, history, and nonfiction.
Sep 08, 2010 Sue rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books of all time. A lyrical impression of the farming life of the late 1800s/early 1900s. Just beautiful. Have read this about three times.
Lori (Books & Pixels)
This was very difficult read for me. I found the stream-of-consciousness style difficult follow on top of subject matter I did not find too appealing. Very early on, I could tell why he made his stylistic choices, but that awareness did not make the book anymore enjoyable for me. I feel fairly confident saying I will probably never read this book again.

That all being said, I'm glad I did read it. It had been assigned in a creative non-fiction writing class that I ultimately ended up dropping bu
Jan 24, 2015 jimtown rated it really liked it
Shelves: farming
I chose what I thought was a short, sweet, accounting of farm life through the seasons to read after a string of sad stories. I almost gave up on Clabbered Dirt, Sweet Grass after the Summer season, but I'm glad a power outage at home made me finish the book. Fall was the season to read, I think to really make a person see this old time farming as it was. I want to say all work and no play, but they did find times to dance and swim and have picnics in between all the work.

The descriptions of far
Jan 13, 2014 Susan rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
Everyone else in my book group loved this book. I thought it was merely OK. I found the writing itself lovely and lyrical, but the content read like a flowery farmer's diary. Now I'm an archivist, and I know how valuable a farmer's diary can be for all sorts of research. But it's not something I want to sit down and read cover to cover for sheer enjoyment. Like with other books about farming, it may be that I already know too much about the topic to find it interesting.

This book is very differe
Mar 02, 2008 Virginia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, fiction
When people think of Paulsen titles, this one rarely surfaces, but I consider it to be the best of his work (at least, the best I have read so far). It reads beautifully; it seems to be less of a narrative and more prose. In it Paulsen pays homage to the "old timers" - the farmers whose back-breaking work built the midwest. As a farmgirl, I appreciated his gorgeous descriptions of summers in the haymow. The opening chapter, which describes an old man burying his aged workhorse, made me cry. A ...more
Matt Cowie
Sep 20, 2014 Matt Cowie rated it really liked it
I don't normally like forwards, but this book has the best forward I have ever read. Those few pages brought tears to my eyes. The rest of the book, well I'm not sure..... I couldn't stop reading it and it may indeed be a modern form of epic potery to give Homer pause, or it might be a litarary bomb. I still don't know
Sep 05, 2009 Cindy rated it really liked it
A beautifully poetic look at life on family farms when tractors were just starting to be used. Paulsen takes one on a journey through the seasons of life on the farm, the community of life, the joys and sorrows, and the work - oh my, the never-ending work. I found myself reading aloud in my head just to experience the way he uses words - the words truly convey the sense of life's rhythms.
Aug 18, 2008 feathers rated it liked it
Recommended to feathers by: MAR
Shelves: dirt-farming
sort of a two-note johhny sort of book, i.e. farming is constant labor and there are many beauties and tragedies in this labor, but pleasant enough. if not for the charm of thinking about how it's the same author as hatchet, i wouldn't care so much. but, given my current living situation, all v. topical.
Nov 06, 2014 Deb rated it really liked it
Was that a poem? Did I just read a poem? Because with funky punctuation and incomplete sentences it sure felt like poetry. This lyrical description of long-ago farm life will, I am quite certain, stir memories of anyone who grew up in the rural Midwest during the early or middle part of the last century.
Jul 12, 2015 Craig rated it liked it
It began with a wonderful story and morphed into a chronicle of chores, seasonal farm work and lost some of the spark of the first story. But all in all a poetic flashback to a time on the farm now gone. If you've farmed, you'll enjoy this. And if you haven't farmed it's still worth the read just to appreciate some of what goes on. (or used to go on) down on the farm.3.5 stars
Apr 26, 2010 Erin rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written in the breathless and yet meandering rhythm of the seasonal cycles of farm life. The forward is my favorite part; I actually use it in my college Intro to Comp class as a study of a "perfect" narrative piece.
Aug 24, 2009 Beth rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, adult
Paulsen gives a wonderful poetry to this book that makes a single subject, the farm during the 4 seasons, flow and move with such grace and beauty. I truly felt a connection to my own farmer ancestors reading this book!
Rick Jones
Feb 08, 2012 Rick Jones rated it liked it
Lyrical AND hardbitten view of farmlife..Paulsen is able to capture the toughness of an existence that is now mostly gone. A good sensory experience, and his descriptions of the animals on a farm are spot on.
Mar 21, 2013 Heather rated it really liked it
Wonderful book, written in an easy cadence that puts one there on the farm, with all the sights, the smells, the sounds. I could almost feel the grass under my feet and the sun baking my skin as I read. Lovely work.
May 26, 2009 Deb rated it it was amazing
Satisfied my need for essay/story about the wonders, struggles, and joy of (mostly bygone) family farming. I must read more Gary Paulsen. His writing is gorgeous, highly visual and packed with emotion.
Lynette Rambousek
Feb 26, 2010 Lynette Rambousek rated it really liked it
Coming from a farm background I was able to associate to Paulsens discriptions of each season. Some of course before my time!
Nich Traverse
Nov 10, 2012 Nich Traverse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This book is beautiful. For anyone who loved listening to gramp tell stories about growing up on a little farm in the middle of nowhere, this book will make you smile...and cry.
Aug 11, 2008 Suzanne rated it it was amazing
Excellent read. If I buy a book (very unusual) I will give it to a used bookstore. This one was a keeper.
John rated it really liked it
Sep 21, 2014
Xavier Todd
Xavier Todd rated it it was amazing
Dec 02, 2015
Sue rated it it was amazing
Mar 22, 2015
Jill Bertrand
Jill Bertrand rated it really liked it
Oct 18, 2016
Craig rated it really liked it
Mar 02, 2015
Laura rated it really liked it
Feb 22, 2013
Kimberly rated it liked it
Jun 23, 2012
Chuck rated it really liked it
Jun 15, 2009
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Although he was never a dedicated student, Paulsen developed a passion for reading at an early age. After a librarian gave him a book to read--along with his own library card--he was hooked. He began spending hours alone in the basement of his apartment building, reading one book after another.

Running away from home at the age of 14 and traveling with a carnival, Paulsen acquired a taste for adve
More about Gary Paulsen...

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“All the luck in the world has to come every year, in every part of every year, or there is not a harvest and then the luck, the bad luck will come and everything we are, all that we can ever be, all the Einsteins and babies and love and hate, all the joy and sadness and sex and wanting and liking and disliking, all the soft summer breezes on cheeks and first snowflakes, all the Van Goghs and Rembrandts and Mozarts and Mahlers and Thomas Jeffersons and Lincolns and Ghandis and Jesus Christs, all the Cleopatras and lovemaking and riches and achievements and progress, all of that, every single damn thing that we are or ever will be is dependent on six inches of topsoil and the fact that the rain comes when it's needed and does not come when it is not needed; everything, every...single...thing comes with that luck.” 31 likes
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