The relevance of The Bones of Plenty, published in 1962, and set in the depression era of the 1930’s, is indisputable today, 50 to 80 years later. Change the place, change the vocation, and the story is still eerily similar to what can be read in today’s news.
Referred to by some as North Dakota’s answer to the Grapes of Wrath (Steinbeck), The Bones of Plenty is the semi-autobiographical story of Lois Phillips Hudson’s youth. The Bones of Plenty is the novelized expansion of Hudson’s previous works as collected in Reapers of the Dust. Though Reapers was formally published as a book in 1965, many of the included stories were copyrighted as early as 1957.
Where Reapers of the Dust is essentially a collection of essays; snippets of events set in vignettes so expressively written that they play like short film clips, The Bones of Plenty is the more cohesive depiction of daily life in a specific time and place. It is worth noting that the “chapters” in Reapers of the Dust are identified by individual titles, setting them definitively apart from each other, while the continuity of events through time is expressed in The Bones of Plenty through the use of dates rather than numbers or titles.
There are many other reviews of The Bones of Plenty for those of you looking for a quick introduction. Here are a few that we suggest (Permission to link granted by the site owners):
This review appeared on Rural Lit RALLY: Book Review, TBOP
Transcript of the blog discussion of The Bones of Plenty on the Rural Lit RALLY site: Hudson Discussion Transcript. Participants included Dr. Paul Theobald, Dr. David Pichaske, Judge Mark Munger, John Henry and Cynthia Anthony. Special comments contributed by Lucy Hudson, daughter of Lois Phillips Hudson.
To read what Lucy Hudson thought about the character of Lucy Custer being named for her, click here: Lucy Hudson on TBOP.