Monday, 23 May 2011

Week 12: State - West Virginia

West Virginia, originally part of the state of Virginia, became in 1863 the only state in the Union to secede from a Confederate state during the American Civil War, following sharp division over the issue of secession from the Union (its original Native American name of Kanawha was subsequently changed to West Virginia). Following its founding it became known as The Mountain State for being the only state to lie entirely with the Appalachia Mountain range (also explaining its motto - Montani Semper Liberi, "Mountaineers are always free."), a factor which has profoundly affected its economy (West Virginia is second only to Wyoming in coal-production in the United States) and the lifestyles of its residents. John Denver's song "Take Me Home, Country Roads" describes the experience of driving through the West Virginian countryside, and many locals refer to their home state as Almost Heaven, in reference to the opening line of the song. West Virginia is the least populous south-eastern state, and only 1.1% of the state's residents are foreign-born (the lowest in the country). The largest city and state capital is Charleston.

Films set in West Virginia include The Mothman Prophecies as well as the 1975 non-fiction book which formed the basis for the film (both focusing on Point Pleasant in Mason County), Wrong Turn (set in the forests of West Virginia), and the 1955 Robert Mitchum thriller The Night of the Hunter, which just so happens to also be the book I've selected for this state.

After struggling through Anne Tyler in Maryland I knew I had to pick something I would enjoy this time, and I know I can't go wrong with this one. Although the film, now considered a classic, was a critical and box office failure on its initial release, the book by Davis Grubb, first published in 1953, was a bestseller and National Book Award finalist, and is now well regarded as a classic of the Southern Gothic genre.

Review to follow this week...

No comments:

Post a Comment