EDITORIAL: Where Pulitzer fiction meets W.Va. reality

May 15—In case you somehow missed the news, Buckhannon native Jayne Anne Phillips won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her novel "Night Watch."

This is, of course, an incredibly proud moment for the Mountain State, and we congratulate Phillips on her success.

The summary for "Night Watch " reads: "In 1874, in the wake of the War, erasure, trauma, and namelessness haunt civilians and veterans, renegades and wanderers, freedmen and runaways. Twelve-year-old ConaLee, the adult in her family for as long as she can remember, finds herself on a buckboard journey with her mother, Eliza, who hasn't spoken in more than a year. They arrive at the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in West Virginia, delivered to the hospital's entrance by a war veteran who has forced himself into their world. There, far from family, a beloved neighbor, and the mountain home they knew, they try to reclaim their lives."

If you read the book (and even if you don't), we recommend taking a day trip to the novel's primary setting. The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum still looms large in Weston, though it has left its days as a mental institution behind and is now a popular tourist attraction.

How surreal would it be to walk through the halls and rooms of the asylum and see in your mind's eye the vibrant descriptions from Phillips' book ? To stand in the women's wing and imagine Eliza there ? To linger in the shadows of the thick stone walls and think of the mysterious man called Night Watch ? What better way to make the story come alive ?

If that interests you, historic tours run throughout the day during the summer. Or perhaps Trans-Allegheny's notorious hauntings are more to your taste. In that case, paranormal tours are offered during both daylight and evening hours.