My rambling thoughts on Nelle Harper Lee and her books To Kill a Mockingbird (TKAM) and Go Set a Watchman (GSAW)

My fascination with Nell Harper Lee started when I read the book In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, twenty years ago. I was amazed they were childhood friends and famous writers from a small southern town. That she had written TKAM and won a Pulitzer Prize at such a young age, and then disappeared from the publishing world. I knew she lived in New York and was in with the party crowd of the flamboyant Capote. Obviously intelligent why no more books?

Recently I heard of the Marja Mills book, The Mockingbird Next Door, peaked my interest I read it as fast as I could. I discovered Lee: reads constantly, loves sports, does not watch TV or have a computer and does not like the outside world invading her private space. She has received many honorary degrees as well as countless opportunities to speak; which she no longer accepts. I came to understand the quiet southern woman’s hesitance to continue and compete with her previous unexpected success. Lee, said of her success “I hoped for a little, as I said, but I got rather a whole lot, and in some ways this was just about as frightening as the quick, merciful death I’d expected.”

And so she still lived in New York 5 months out of the year, returning to Alabama and her family in Monroeville. She keeps a journal and writes to her many friends, her head filled with stories just no more books. Until this year at 89 years old with her sister, trusted adviser, gone she has published Go Set a Watchman, and I; like countless others awaited its release. Placing it on hold as soon as I could. While waiting I read TKAM. enjoyed it and would like to re-see the 1963 Academy Award winning movie with Gregory Peck.

Then this week the library notified me the book was available…it was an ebook and the audio version….still I eagerly started listening. Well, I learned I’m not the listening kind of book reader, constantly falling asleep, losing my place, and starting over and over and over. Of course I had heard this was about grown Scout, and it does start off like that but there are many chapters that go back to Jem and Scout and their childhood adventures. Me… I like a book that keeps a nice neat chronological timeline and GSAW doesn’t do that. Scout weaves through her past and present often and perhaps, it was the audio version that didn’t suit my reading style. The most astonishing thing in the book is the disjointedness of Atticus, so revered in TKAM and his downfall at the end of the book. Scout wasn’t the only one upset with him…is Atticus a bigot….was he always one…perhaps I need to read GSAW with my own eyes.

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