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The Night of the Hunter
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Group Reads > March 2012 - Night of the Hunter

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message 1: by Melki, Femme Fatale (last edited Mar 01, 2012 09:13AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Melki | 827 comments Mod
Our March group read is The Night of the Hunter by Davis Grubb.
This thriller, written in 1953 was a national bestseller and was voted a finalist for the 1955 National Book Award.
In 1955, the book was adapted by Charles Laughton and James Agee as the film The Night of the Hunter.
And, it was also adapted as, and I'm NOT kidding about this, a muscial. Who knew?


Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) I absolutely adore the writing of Davis Grubb. He's almost become lost to modern readers. That's a shame. The Night of the Hunter was Grubb's first published novel. Two earlier novels have remained unpublished. The film directed by Charles Laughton, the only film he directed, was entered on the National Film Registry in 1992. Grubb would have been proud. The Criterion Collection edition of "The Night of the Hunter" is a must see. "Chillll-ren. Chilll-dren!" My review is up at http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... for anyone interested. No spoiler alerts necessary.


Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) The character Preacher Harry Powell is based on real life serial killer Harry Powers, known as "The Bluebeard of Quite Dell, W. Va," or "The Lonely Hearts Killer." You can read about the gory discoveries in his garage at the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. http://www.wvculture.org/goldenseal/f...

And, here's the real Harry...

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Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) Here's a biographical sketch of Davis Grubb

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Davis Grubb(July 23, 1919 - July 24, 1980) was born and raised in Moundsville, West Virginia. Both sides of his family lived there for almost two hundred years. His father was an architect. His mother worked for the Department of Public Assistance. He was a child of the Great Depression, seeing his father's career dry up as economic times grew worse, and hearing the stories of the impoverished people his mother served.

Davis began writing at the age of seven. He was also fascinated with drawing and painting. He spent a year at the Carnegie Mellon institute from 1938 to 1939. However, the would be painter was color blind. He would be a writer.

In 1940, Grubb moved to New York. He worked as a page at NBC. By 1941 he was righting copy for broadcast on NBC. In his spare time he devoted his efforts to writing fiction.

Through 1942 and 1943, Grubb wrote copy for radio stations in Florida and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He broke into the writers market, selling his first short story to "Good Housekeeping" for $500.00. Grubb continued to successfully sell short stories to well known magazines through the coming years.

Grubb's first two novels were never accepted for publication. However, in 1953, Harper Brothers accepted and published The Night of the Hunter. It was a critical and popular success. The Night of the Hunter was a finalist for the National Book Award in 1955. See my review at: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...

Grubb's first novel is based on the true story of Harry Powers, known as the "Lonely Hearts Killer," or "The Bluebeard of Clarke County." He was executed in the State Penitentiary at Moundsville, W. Virginia in 1932. Powers' crime? He murdered a widow, Asta Eicher, and her three children. Their bodies were discovered in his garage in Quiet Dell, West Virginia.

Charles Laughton purchased the film rights to The Night of the Hunter. It was Laughton's only film made as a director. It has become an American film classic, selected for inclusion in the National Film Registry in 1992. James Ageeserved as screen writer.

After the success of The Night of the Hunter, Grub continued to write both novels and short stories. He experimented with changes in genre, saying, "no one book should be like the others."

In 1955, Grubb's historical romance, A Dream Of Kings was published, New York, Charles Scribner's & Sons. The novel was not received as favorably as his prior work. Set during the Civil War, in Virginia, it is the story of Tom Christopher, who fights under the command of Stonewall Jackson. The "dream of kings," is the Confederacy. However, after Jackson's death at the battle of Chancellorsville, Christopher deserts and returns home to what is now West Virginia.

Grubb was continually frustrated by critical response to his works, saying, "They [the literary critics] seem to get very upset when you don't write the same thing." Grubb was undeterred, returning in 1961 with The Watchman.

Perhaps Grubb's most ambitious work was "The Voices of Glory." It doesn't even have a goodreads entry, as of yet. I'll be remedying that as a goodreads librarian. Clearly based on his mother's experience with the Department of Public Service, it tells the story of Mary Creslap, a Public Service Nurse inoculating the impoverished against tuberculosis. It is told through twenty-eight different characters. Not unusual at all, it has been said Grubb was influenced by Sherwood Anderson and his novel Winesburg, Ohio. The novel will also call to mind Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters.

Fools Parade, one of my favorite Grubb novels, was also made into a movie, starring Jimmy Stewart, Strother Martin, George Kennedy,Anne Blythe, and others, comprising an excellent ensemble cast. Unfortunately, the film is not available. Following the death of Ann Blythe, the film rights remain the subject of a conflict over her estate. It is a shame. For it is another matchless portrayal of a most unusual set of underdog characters struggling to overcome corruption during the Great Depression.

Davis Grubb is almost lost to the reading public today. On being a writer, he said,

I can't remember when it first was that I said to myself, when I looked in a mirror over the washbasin, which was about to here on me, "You are a writer." I can't imagine ever not having been a writer. I wasn't a prodigy in any sense. I was, to all intents and purposes, a very stupid, mischievous, rather sad child. I made horrible grades in school, the worst. to the disappointment of my father and mother both. I'd come home with my report card just bristling with Fs or Ds...

A young writer once came to me years ago and said, "Why write anything? It's all been said." And I said, "Yes, but not by you." And I think unless you believe in the sacred individuality of everyone, then you don't believe in writing at all. Because no metaphor can have any real meaning unless, having originated in the mind of the poet, it finds soil to make its resurrection in the mind of somebody else.

Every day you don't create something is a sin. That's what sin is. Doing nothing. Or traveling along day after day in the same old rut, not feeling anything, not seeing anything. That's a sin."

Davis Grubb died in New York, New York, July 24, 1980. His companion was a Lhaso Apso named Rowdy Charlie.

References

"The Serial Killer of Clarke County," http://www.webcitation.org/62gVgIQbm
"Davis Grubb," Annie Merner Pfeiffer Library, http://www.wvwc.edu/library/wv_authors/a...
"In Their Own Country, Davis Grubb," West Virginia Center For the Book, http://wvcenterforthebook.lib.wv.us/In%2...



message 5: by Susan (last edited Mar 01, 2012 04:35PM) (new)

Susan | 280 comments Melki wrote: In 1955, the book was adapted by Charles Laughton and James Agee as the film The Night of the Hunter.And, it was also adapted as, and I'm NOT kidding about this, a muscial. "

Well, don't forget about the Producers and "Springtime with Hitler." :) But I have to say, Mitchum is totally scary in the film. Must be seen to be believed


message 6: by Melki, Femme Fatale (new) - rated it 4 stars

Melki | 827 comments Mod
They could always tour the US with "In Cold Blood: The Musical"!!!


message 7: by Michael, Anti-Hero (new) - added it

Michael (knowledgelost) | 279 comments Mod
I can't wait to read this book, I will read it when I finish The Devil All the Time


Cyndi (bookchick64) | 54 comments Melki wrote: "They could always tour the US with "In Cold Blood: The Musical"!!!"

Melki you are so irreverent....love it!!


Cyndi (bookchick64) | 54 comments Knowledge Lost wrote: "I can't wait to read this book, I will read it when I finish The Devil All the Time"

Same here.


Franky | 394 comments Wow, I'm really enjoying this read so far. Grubb has such a smooth writing style and leads you into John's thoughts when his mom meets the Preacher. Very engaging plot and interior dialogue.

Night of the Hunter sort of reminds me of a Flannery O'Connor short story or novel in its religious overtones and themes and its symbolism.

One other thought: Icey Spoon...what a name


message 11: by Melki, Femme Fatale (new) - rated it 4 stars

Melki | 827 comments Mod
I gotta admit, I didn't vote for this one, but I'm lovin' it. What a great book! It's suspenseful, yet rich in detail with fully developed characters. Hope to finish this afternoon.

Franky - I never put Icey's first name together with her last til you mentioned it. Kind of an odd choice for her as she seems to be a rather warm-hearted woman.


Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) Melki wrote: "I gotta admit, I didn't vote for this one, but I'm lovin' it. What a great book! It's suspenseful, yet rich in detail with fully developed characters. Hope to finish this afternoon.

Franky ..."

Well, they DO run an ice cream parlor. *laughing* Having recommended this one, I'm glad to see readers enjoying it. I do love Grubb. Fools Parade would make an excellent read for another month some time.


message 13: by Melki, Femme Fatale (last edited Mar 19, 2012 12:53PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Melki | 827 comments Mod
Done! Thanks for suggesting this one, Mike. And thanks also for all your Davis Grubb research. I would love to read something else by this author.

Rachel Cooper was quite a woman. She reminds me so much of my Grammy Smith. No matter what was goin' on, you'd best NEVER track mud on her clean floors!


Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) Melki wrote: "Done! Thanks for suggesting this one, Mike. And thanks also for all your Davis Grubb research. I would love to read something else by this author.

Rachel Cooper was quite a woman. She remi..."


Nope. Rachel ran a clean kitchen. She's the true heroine of this gem.


Franky | 394 comments Mike, I'll second that thanks on the research. It really gives a new (more disturbing) twist to the tale knowing it was based on real-life incidents.

For some reason, although this book is far from To Kill a Mockingbird in story, the whole coming of age theme seems similar. I see some parallels with Jem/John and Scout/Pearl also in that John is protecting Pearl just like Jem tries to protect Scout.

The Spoons...ice cream parlor...I didn't even put that together...haha. They must be related to Dave Frye and Rich Burger, who own the hamburger joint down the road. :)


Franky | 394 comments Finished a few days ago and have to say that this is one of the best books I've read in awhile. Honestly, I didn't think this would be a book I'd like because of its dark subject matter. The fact that it is based on a real-life case kind of put me off to reading it too, but Grubb has a way of making this a morality tale and seeing the bigger picture of redemption and the nature of goodness in the face of evil. The author has a way of making you so involved in the plot, and caring about the fate of its main characters like John and Pearl.

Very powerful reading experience.


message 17: by Toby (new) - added it

Toby (tfitoby) | 510 comments Intriguing. I've had this for a little while just because it was the origins of the movie and it was only $1 and a beautiful old Pan, but i've never really wanted to read it.

The way you guys are talking I feel like perhaps I should ignore the movie and get on to reading this.


Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) Franky wrote: "Mike, I'll second that thanks on the research. It really gives a new (more disturbing) twist to the tale knowing it was based on real-life incidents.

For some reason, although this book is far fr..."


Franky, you're most welcome. I groove on this stuff. The real life killer of Quiet Dell, W. Va. was one piece of work.

I especially liked your comparison of "Hunter" to "TKAM". Spot on.

Mike


Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) Tfitoby wrote: "Intriguing. I've had this for a little while just because it was the origins of the movie and it was only $1 and a beautiful old Pan, but i've never really wanted to read it.

The way you guys are ..."


By all means, read that pretty Pan edition. Then watch the movie. You'll be glad you did both.

Mike


Stephen (spg-) | 40 comments Really enjoyed the book and am looking forward to watching the movie which I've never seen but have just got hold of - this group definitely chooses some great books to read !


Cyndi (bookchick64) | 54 comments I am so disgusted that my library lost my ordered copy in transit....still on my tbr list tho! Picked up April's read yesterday!


message 22: by Franky (last edited Mar 28, 2012 04:20PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Franky | 394 comments Interestingly enough, I turned on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) last night, and low and behold they are showing this film. Excellent. I want to watch again. Mitchum does a fine job with the character.


Franky | 394 comments Alberto wrote: "Although I loved the film, I was going to pass this group read. Too many books in my TBR shelf. But finally your comments got me and I'll start it next after my current read.
By the way, I must s..."


Thanks for the heads up on all those titles. I'll check that out.


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