By Sean Kranske, CW
The festival’s events included speeches from writers, lectures about works of literature, film screenings, a book sale and a journal-making workshop; it concluding with a reading from best-selling novelist Jayne Anne Phillips. West Liberty University’s Elbin Library Director Cheryl Harshman presented a “Lunch with Books” program on Nov. 8.
The Upper Ohio Valley Festival of Books covers a wide variety of literature, including works by Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain and Arthur Conan Doyle. However, the festival also showcases various works from West Virginian writers as well as novels that take place in the local area. At times, it can feel that nothing comes from the Ohio Valley, but this festival shows that this area does have many things to be proud of.
This year marks the third year that the event was held, but this year’s events were bigger and better than before. While various authors and works were discussed and shown at the various events, Appalachian works were showcased that made the festival feel more grounded in the Ohio Valley.
Jayne Anne Phillips read from her newest novel, “Quiet Dell,” which tells a fictionalized story based on the real-life West Virginia murderer Harry Powers. “Quiet Dell” may not be extremely popular, but it has received a great amount of critical praise. In his review of Phillips’ novel, Stephen King wrote, “In a brilliant fusion of fact and fiction, Jayne Anne Phillips has written the novel of the year.”
The crimes committed by Powers were also the highlight of the more popular novel “Night of the Hunter” by Davis Grubbs. “Night of the Hunter” was also discussed during the festival, and the 1955 film adaptation was screened at Oglebay Institute’s Towngate Cinema.
Even those who typically do not read literature enjoyed the events and activities. There were more than just readings during the festival, and the film screening and journal-making workshops were all free and open to the public.
The festival also offered opportunities to learn a little bit about literary and West Virginia history, as well as encourage a greater sense of West Virginia pride.
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