Thursday, June 25, 2015

Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee

The first time I was exposed to a novel was when Mr. Frittier read one out loud to our seventh grade class as we followed along. Occasionally, he had us read pages in silence. Reading literature together as a group was a rich experience I thoroughly enjoyed in grade school. At age 12, it introduced us to mature and weighty themes, I would not have understood otherwise.

The novel was To Kill A Mockingbird. It is my favorite prose of all time. I don't know if this is because it was my first adult book, or because it is an American classic. Likewise, I love the 1962 film.

If you get the idea that we were mature beyond our years, think again.

Once while the class quietly read a passage, Mr. Frittier had to step outside the room. During his absence, Ronnie Mattingly, a class clown, began to goof off. When Mr. Frittier returned to see that nearly everyone had stopped reading text to watch Ronnie act up, he roared, "MR. MATTINGLY, SIT DOWN!" 

It caused our most obedient classmate, Norma Oliver, the only student in the room still absorbed in the book, to jump sky high in alarm and me, who happened to be looking in the direction of  both Ronnie Mattingly and Norma Oliver, to burst out laughing, then get the giggles while the rest of the class grew as still as a rock. Mr. Frittier must have seen Norma too because to his credit, he let me slide for giggling. He just resumed teaching, putting into context what we should have read.

On July 14, 2015 a followup novel by Harper Lee, which she says was written in the 1950s, before she wrote The Kill A Mockingbird, will be published. Called Go Set A Watchman, it features an adult Scout Finch, who returns home to Maycomb, Alabama, to visit her father, Atticus and reflect on the events of her childhood.
The announcement of this second novel shocked the publishing world, and the book is sure to be a bestseller. Critics fear it won't live up to Mockingbird, but really, how does anyone follow a masterpiece? Certain sectors have accused the 89 year old author's handlers of tricking her into agreeing to the new book's release. 

The heck with naysayers, IMO. The novel exists; we're lucky it wasn't lost; and I'm happy it's coming out. Ms. Lee's first great narrative stands alone. Booksellers ... here I come!

Will you read Go Set A Watchman?

Update: Reader of the blog, Barry, found this article about the book's publication. Thanks Barry! Also, here is a Wall Strueet Journal article about Harper Lee's father, who is the inspiration for Atticus Finch.

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  1. Good question, Debra. Will I or won't I? Like everyone else, I know Mockingbird very well. Perhaps I will watch and listen, find out what others think of it. My daughter the high school English teacher should keep me informed on this one :)

  2. After it comes out, I would love to know what your daughter thinks. I hope it's good!

  3. Debra,, happy birthday to you. love and peace be on to you. may you have many happy, healthy prosperous days ahead. the cake look delicious.

    1. Thanks for the warm, good wishes, Penny!