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Honey in the Horn

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  1,001 ratings  ·  74 reviews
Honey in the Horn is a novel about life in the homesteading days of Oregon, 1906-1908. It is about the coming of age of an orphan boy named Clay Calvert, but it is also the about the trials of the pioneers who came to Oregon following the American Dream. Through the characters that Clay meets along the way, the author introduces the readers to the various occupations of th ...more
Paperback, 408 pages
Published October 1st 1992 by Caxton Press (first published 1935)
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3.60  · 
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 ·  1,001 ratings  ·  74 reviews

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This is a novel about homesteaders in Oregon around 1900 that I had heard about for years, but it was out of print and the copies that were available were expensive. I finally found a used copy at a decent price and I was looking forward to reading it. It was disappointing. Despite winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1936, it is badly dated. Davis was first a poet and only later a novelist, and it shows. There are lengthy passages describing the landscape with long lists of fauna and flora that are be ...more
Tracy Towley
Aug 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pulitzer
I used to have this long speech I'd give about 'literature' and how much more concerned with quality of content I am than the topic of the content. I used to say that I'd read a 1,000 page book written on the history of a couch, if the writing was done interestingly enough, because I am not typically very concerned with plots, suspense or other manipulative techniques that are typically used to make me forget / not notice that the writing is sub par.

It's been a long time since that speech and a
Shelter Somerset
Nov 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Keeping with my goal to read each Pulitzer Prize winning novel written prior to 1940 (which isn't so monumental a task considering the first was awarded in 1917), I finished reading "Honey in the Horn" and I'm glad I did. Yes, it's archaic. Yes, for today's standards it wouldn't even find a publisher much less win a Pulitzer (if for any reason it lacks political correctness). But to approach a 70-plus year old novel without placing yourself in the author’s reference of time is unfair to yourself ...more
Nov 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
What was missing in Davis's 1936 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Honey in the Horn was the romantic stereotyping and moralizing that could be found in much of the regional literature of the time. Instead, this is essentially a coming-of-age novel with complex, finely wrought, often humorous characters who are just trying to make a life — though the going isn't easy. Davis's rendering of the rugged Oregon landscape is simply gorgeous. Reminiscent of Stegner's Big Rock Candy Mountain, but with much m ...more
Jan 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Finished yet another of our Pulitzer reads! This was a fascinating book - the adjectives colorful, complex, brilliant, rich, humorous - pop to mind as i try to find a way to describe it, but I find description of the book elusive. We stopped several times during our reading to comment on the vocabulary and phrases/expressions that that author used - some just plain tickled our fancy, others were many layered, more complex. This is one of those books that could/should be re-read for even deeper e ...more
Chris Gager
Dec 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'll get this from the library tomorrow. I encountered Davis for the first time(as far as I remember) in the short story book I just finished. Never heard of him before that. We'll see... Started this morning with some reading before work and I'm a bit leary of the "wry folksiness" of the style. Typical 30's??? Lot's of rural Oregon 1900 colloqialisms as well. It'll probably flow better as I go along. The edition I'm reading came from the Southwest Harbor Library and is quite old. 1935 I think a ...more
This book won the Pulitzer just 4 years before Grapes of Wrath (1936/1940). Which is really kind of amazing, as these books have a lot in common—they look at migrations of people and what led them there. Obviously Grapes of Wrath looks at a much larger migration in a different time and place and a much worse human-induced climatic catastrophe. But though this book is dated (esp when discussing the various Indian tribes—though Davis does go into detail about who is who, there are not just "Indian ...more
Stephany Wilkes
May 27, 2011 rated it liked it
I read this in advance of a recent trip to Oregon, as Davis was born to a settler family there and wrote a great deal about his home state. The period (1930s) and regional slang is challenging but only because we don't know it; a dictionary neatly addressed this problem. I am grateful to Davis, however, for preserving this exact language.

This is a coming-of-age tale, not sentimental, a sort of West Coast version of Huck Finn (though that's a stretch). It is full of entertaining and, by today's
Apr 14, 2019 rated it liked it
H.L. Davis won the Pulitzer Prize for Honey In the Horn in 1936. The story is about pioneers settling in Oregon in the early 1900's. I enjoy western novels , but this one was not one of my favorites. I liked Lonesome Dove much better, but I did enjoy the story. I give this book 3 stars.
Richard Jr.
Jan 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
H. L. Davis spins a tale that only a man who had lived through that period of time in Oregon, had picked hops, stacked hay, ridden the outlaw trail and listened to a whole lot of stories in bars could have written.
As a native Oregonian (that's actually a new paper, not the real name we call ourselves) with ancestors and relatives living across most of the state at one time or another in the past 150 years, I have heard some of these stories from the Willamette Valley about the bums and the ho
Sherry (sethurner)
Oct 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
“There was a run-down old tollbridge station in the Shoestring Valley of Southern Oregon where Uncle Preston Shiveley had lived for fifty years, outlasting a wife, two sons, several plagues of grasshoppers, wheat-rust and caterpillars, and a couple or three invasions of land-hunting settlers and real-estate speculators, and everybody else except the scattering of old pioneers who cockleburred themselves onto the country the same time he did.”

THe setting is the early 1900s of Oregon. The plot con
May 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone, Oregonians especially
Recommended to Robin by: Pulitzer
This book offers an awesome look at Oregon at the end of the 1800's. I copied down several different quotes that were just philosophically awesome. There were terms in the book I'll never understand ("he dug the hole very jesusly") and explanations of occurrences I'd heard of, but with reasons I'd never heard (Davis claims the main reason immigrant workers (like the Chinese) were preferred for building the railroad because they often hired themselves out in teams with an american group-leader, a ...more
Roxanne Russell
Jan 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pulitzer-fiction
I really enjoyed this 1935 Pulitzer Winner about life in Oregon in the late 19th century. The author's colloquial style and tongue-in-cheek, though folksy, authentic narration style was masterful. The story of a young man and woman making their way in the Wild West was full of the usual guns, horses, wagons, Indians, fever and fire-cooked meals, but with more focus on the influence of women than usual and very little consideration for children. I particularly liked the opening passage: "He met h ...more
Feb 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A truly enjoyable and sometimes comic coming of age story set in Oregon, Davis home state. Clay Calvert, an orphan, is forced to flee his job as a ranch hand on a sheep farm and he falls in with some homesteaders seeking the perfect location. With them, he meets the lovely Luce who captures his heart. The story becomes their story, with all its quirky characters and its astonishing prose that details the native plants and describes the scenery so well. Davis' writing reminds me of Mark Twain's, ...more
Steve Thorp
Jan 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book won the 1937 Pulitzer Prize - Fiction. A serious read about Oregon life in the homestead era (early 20th century). Indelible character portraits coupled with a great love for Oergon's natural beauty, plus a quiet sympathy for the Native American people. Very much like reading Mark Twain. Highly recommended if you're into Oregon history.
John Guffey
Nov 30, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: pulitzer-winners
A book that is first western, Oregon Trail epic, and then love story sounds like a winner. Honey in the Horn would be great if it didn't fall prey to the dreaded slow downs. The book was slow in several places, and it hurt the overall story. The characters were great though and the prose was surprisingly humorous.
Jan 14, 2010 rated it liked it
This book was a Pulitzer Prize winner in the 1930's. I wonder if it would have been today. Davis' voice is intoxicating. His descriptions of people and places reminded me of Annie Proulx. The story follows a 16 year old boy on a journey into manhood in the 1900's in Oregon.
Dec 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Raw account of rough life of Oregon homesteaders. Dense style loaded with wonderful and unsettling details.
Sep 15, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pulitzers-read
From my perspective, this is just a mediocre book. Not bad, not great. I probably wouldn't have chosen this book for a Pulitzer, but I guess I can sort of see why it was chosen. In a sense, there is nothing more quintessentially "American" in the United States of America sense of the term than a western story. And this is exactly what the book is: a western. Cowboys, Indians, hunting, cattle, hangings, outlawry, frontier justice, etc. The fact that it takes place in the Northwest, in Oregon, mak ...more
Jeff Stern
Nov 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: pulitzer-fiction
A few funny lines and a portrait of homesteaders culture that I've never read about before.
Marie Carmean
Feb 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Honey in the Horn by H.L. Davis was a delightful journey through an era and a geographical place that I will not easily forget. This classic has been reprinted at various times throughout the years and I happened to catch one of the new re-printings which acquainted me with a truly unique tale. Davis's prose reminds me of Mari Sandoz but maybe more so of Mark Twain. The book is filled with colorful characters and some chuckle-inspiring moments. You have the sense of sitting around a campfire one ...more
Gary Lindsay
Mar 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pulitzer-winners
This was last month's selection of the Pulitzer reading club I belong to.
I started it a bit late, but I am so glad I read this. The most amazing thing about the book is the voice of the narrator. Set in Oregon at the end of the 19th century, the book shares the traditions of authors like Mark Twain and Bret Harte. It is a vehicle for the author to develop a wide variety of characters from that place and era, and his descriptions and use of dialect lets these characters emerge clearly. At times,
Jan 12, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: pulitzer
Pulitzer 1936 - Harold Davis's book is an account of Clay Calvert a 16 year old kid and ranch hand. He is forced to flee from the law due to committing a crime while obeying his employer. While on the lam he meets and falls in love with Luce, a horse-trader's daughter and someone who is rather untrustworthy. The story takes them through their romance and the trials of living in the Oregon wilderness.
This is another one of those - didn't like it/didn't hate it books. There were parts that flowed
Tome Reader
Mar 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book better than I expected which will teach me, yet again, not to rely too much on a book's star rating (this one sits at 3.60) and judge for myself.

You're going to meet people in this book. A lot of them. Naturally some are more memorable than others. Clark Burdon, Wade Shiveley, the horse trader, the miserly lumber mill owner, Old Savage, and yes, the shop keeper in the middle of nowhere but just within listening distance to the ocean that he's never ventured to look at.

The dia
Lynn Derks
Nov 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
(From the Introduction) - Nowhere does the story explicitly identify a particular narrator, although many of Davis's other stories do so. However, the tone suggests Davis had in mind the presence of someone other than an "authorial voice" or implied author as narrator. It is a notion for which we have no ready-made critical language, however much we could use some. And, of course, Davis's response carries implications for identifying the narrative line itself, for if the narrator is more importa ...more
Oct 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
I'll just quote the review:

...What was missing in Davis's 1936 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Honey in the Horn was the romantic stereotyping and moralizing that could be found in much of the regional literature of the time. Instead, this is essentially a coming-of-age novel with complex, finely wrought, often humorous characters who are just trying to make a life — though the going isn't easy. Davis's rendering of the rugged Oregon landscape is simply gorgeous. Reminiscent of Stegner'
Jul 31, 2017 rated it liked it
I was intrigued by the story line. It takes place in the final years of the old west in the Oregon territory. I think this book cannot make up its mind what type of book it wants to be. I think it is an early twentieth century coming-of-age story, but there are also elements of protest as to the way native Americans are treated and also elements of man versus nature as the homesteaders attempt to scratch out a living and finally there are hints at class injustices. It is all written with magnifi ...more
Feb 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
What a surprise to enjoy this book! Sometimes when it's really thick and written ages ago, I go in hesitantly. This book was pretty dang funny, astute in it's understanding of people with a good story line to pull me through. I recommend it. It's about settlers in SE Oregon who are on the road a lot, running into all sorts of odd ball types. The story follows a young man, Clay on his adventures. He gets into a bind and has to stay on the run. There's a love story, of course. It did a great job o ...more
Feb 06, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: pulitzers, 2016
I enjoyed the lively writing, am not sorry I read it, but wouldn't recommend that anyone go out of there way to read it. It felt kind of dated and I got a little tired of it at times. All of the characters were poked fun of, but some of the characterization of Native Americans was cringeable.

I was going to quote a paragraph or two just as an example of his entertaining style, but I can't remember where I put the book. Going through the Pulitzers, it's kind of nice to read one set in the Northwe
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
This took me a long time to read, but I'm blaming that more on the physical condition of the book itself: I had to get an interlibrary loan for this one and it came in a BOX marked "Fragile", which really made me question why I don't use my Kindle more...but anyway, it was ok.
There were a lot of words and side stories that had nothing to do with anything. The characters were all kind of terrible people, and they didn't do much other than wander around. Not my favorite.
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The Pulitzer Project: Honey in the Horn - 1936 1 7 Jun 02, 2012 09:27PM  

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Harold Lenoir Davis (October 18, 1894–October 31, 1960), known as H. L. Davis, was an American novelist and poet. A native of Oregon, he won the Pulitzer Prize for his novel Honey in the Horn, the only Pulitzer given to a native Oregonian. Later living in California and Texas, he also wrote short stories for magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post.
“That's the good thing about it. Nothing counts except what's goin' on around you.” 0 likes
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