Residents flock to meet Grann

Robert Smith
David Grann, author of ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ signed copies of the book Thursday at the Water Bird Gallery on Sixth Street in Pawhuska. Robert Smith/Pawhuska Journal-Capital

When David Grann worked his way through one line of autograph seekers, a new one shortly formed, and it seemed nearly everyone wanted their photo made with him.

Grann, a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine since 2003, may be reasonably well-known among readers across the country, but he is famous in Osage County for his 2017 account of the early 20th century Osage murders titled “Killers of the Flower Moon.” He signed books last Thursday at the Water Bird Gallery on Sixth Street in Pawhuska, owned by Danette Daniels.

Grann signed books along with Kathryn Red Corn, former director of the Osage Nation Museum, who was very helpful to the author’s book project and is, herself, a popular figure in Osage County.

“I think one of the first people I met was Charles Red Corn, her brother,” Grann said, during introductory remarks. He mentioned the late Mr. Red Corn’s novel, A Pipe for February.

“Read Charles’s book. It’s better than my book,” Grann said. He explained later that Charles H. Red Corn, who died last year in his early 80s, had been an indispensable contact, introducing him to many Osage people and answering questions.

Grann also attributed to Kathryn Red Corn the moment of inspiration that “really was the beginning of my journey.” She showed him a group image from which the face of William Hale, an instigator of the violence perpetrated against the Osage, was eliminated.

Questioned by a fan about the progress of a Hollywood motion picture based on Killers of the Flower Moon, Grann was guardedly optimistic.

“The only thing murkier than a criminal conspiracy is what is happening with your project in Hollywood,” he said.

“They do seem to be in a good place,” he added, noting Martin Scorsese is still slated to direct. “My hope is next year this will start to move.”

The book signing doubled as the occasion for a Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting for the Water Bird Gallery. Reba Bueno, of the chamber, said the Water Bird recently joined and had not yet had a ribbon-cutting. Bueno also expressed enthusiasm for Killers of the Flower Moon, which she reported having read last weekend, in slightly more than 24 hours.

Grann has a new book coming out the end of this month, on an entirely different topic. The book, titled The White Darkness, is about Henry Worsley, a British military officer who admired and followed in the footsteps of Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton.

This is also a busy time for Grann because of the release of the motion picture adaptation of the first story he ever published in The New Yorker. The 2003 story dealt with Forrest Tucker, an American career criminal and escape artist, who is portrayed by Robert Redford in the movie titled “The Old Man and the Gun,” which was released in late September and directed by David Lowery.

“They made a lovely movie of that piece,” Grann said. “They brought a lot to it and adapted it.”

Grann expressed gratitude to Osage people who shared their stories with him, and voiced hope that tragic story of the Osage murders will find its appropriate place in the study of the nation’s history.