I had never heard of Erskine Caldwell or his book Tobacco Road but it was on the "100 Greatest Novels" list I have been using as one of the references for my own historical reading list. And the jacket copy called Caldwell "the world's most popular novelist" so this would at least be good for seeing what people used to enjoy back in the day.
This book is ridiculous and should not be read.
The 159 pages — with lots of horrible period illustrations – follow an implausibly pathetic Southern white sharecropper family where the father is so lazy "he won't get up for an hour when he trips on things," constantly makes fun of his daughter's harelip to her face, can't remember half of his children's names, and likes to burn stuff, which ends up being his undoing. A some point these laughable hicks buy a car, which they trash immediately in myriad ways and run over and kill at least two people, which is only mentioned in passing. The first 40 pages is all about a bag of turnips. The other female in the book has some horrid nose deformity that everyone talks about endlessly.
If you want to read something "Southern Gothic," avoid this and read As I Lay Dying or even Winesburg, Ohio, even though that's not technically the South. Faulkner follows very similar people but gives them at least some sliver of dignity.