Our book club has a special pick this month, featuring a WV author! This February, we're reading The Night of the Hunter, a chilling thriller from Moundsville, WV native Davis Grubb.
Our next meeting will be Thursday, February 23rd and we're starting early for an afternoon showing of the feature film! Night of the Hunter the movie stars Robert Mitchum in the creepy noir classic.
About the book -
Murderous ex-convict Harry Powell misrepresents himself as a prison chaplain upon his release from prison. Acting on a story told to him by his now-dead cellmate, "Reverend" Powell cons the cellmate's widow, Willa Harper, into marrying him in hopes that her children will tell him where their father hid the money from his last robbery. After killing their mother, he embarks on a hunt for the children, who have sensed his evil and are running from him.
Grubb explores the presentation of the American South during the Great Depression. He uses tropes of the Southern Gothic genre to explore issues such as social corruption and instability. The plot was based on the true story of Harry Powers, who was hanged in 1932 for the murders of two widows and three children in Quiet Dell, West Virginia.
About the author -
Davis Alexander Grubb (July 23, 1919 – July 24, 1980) was an American novelist and short story writer, best known for his 1953 novel The Night of the Hunter, which was adapted as a film in 1955 by Charles Laughton. Born in Moundsville, West Virginia, Grubb wanted to combine his creative skills as a painter with writing, and attended the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. However, his color blindness was a handicap he could not overcome and he gave up on painting to dedicate himself to writing fiction. He did, however, make a number of drawings and sketches during the course of his career, some of which were incorporated into his writings.
In 1940, Grubb moved to New York City where he worked at NBC radio as a writer while using his free time to write short stories. In the mid-1940s he was successful in selling several short stories to major magazines and in the early 1950s he started writing a full-length novel. Influenced by accounts of economic hardship by depression-era Americans that his mother had seen firsthand as a social worker, Grubb produced a dark tale that mixed the plight of poor children and adults with that of the evil inflicted by others. The Night of the Hunter became an instant bestseller and was voted a finalist for the 1955 National Book Award. That same year, the book was made into a motion picture that is now regarded as a classic. Deemed "culturally significant" by the Library of Congress, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.
Grubb went on to write a further nine novels and several collections of short stories. His 1969 novel Fools' Parade would also be made into a motion picture starring James Stewart. Some of Grubb's short stories were adapted for television by Alfred Hitchcock and by Rod Serling for his Night Gallery series. Grubb died in New York City in 1980. His novel Ancient Lights was published posthumously in 1982, and St. Martins Press published 18 of his short stories in a book collection titled You Never Believe Me and Other Stories in 1989.
Intrigued by this story? Check out our ebook copy available from WV Reads!
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