A Note on the New Harper Lee Book

Like everyone else on the planet (in this, I'm pretty sure I am not exaggerating), I was excited to hear about the forthcoming sequel to Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman, amazed that it should be unearthed after all this time.

According to Deadline the story, which was written before To Kill a Mockingbird, centers around an adult Jean Louise (Scout) Finch:
"Go Set A Watchman is set during the mid-1950s and features many of the characters from To Kill A Mockingbird some 20 years later, according to Penguin Random House. Scout (Jean Louise Finch) has returned to Maycomb from New York to visit her father Atticus. She is forced to grapple with issues both personal and political as she tries to understand her father’s attitude toward society and her own feelings about the place where she was born and spent her childhood."
That it should be found so quickly on the heals of her sister-cum-lawyer's death only niggled at the edges of my conscience a little. And that Lee, who suffered a stroke in 2007, is mostly blind, somewhat deaf, and described by her new lawyer as "forgetful" should, after 60 years, finally say yes to publishing a second title when her life-long anthem has been that "some people only have one book in them," appears to be of little concern when measured with the excitement of a second Harper Lee book. I wonder if we're not doing ourselves and Ms. Lee a disservice or, at the very least, not honoring the life long wishes of this woman. Of course, at this juncture, the argument is an academic one. The cat's out of the bag. The book has been "found." It exists. It will be published.

Principles aside, I, like millions of other people, will be queueing up to read this historic book. Because I'm curious. Because, like many, To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favorite books of all time. Because I want more Scout Finch and more Harper Lee... And that's what publishers Harper (in the U.S.) and Random House (in the U.K.) are counting on, considering their slated first run is 2 million copies.

Maybe that's where I stop though. It would be easy to jump on the review bandwagon as many are like to do. Instead, I imagine that I will greedily steal this book away to some corner of my house, and read it with the sense of guilt I had as a child, when I was doing something I knew I shouldn't. 

And, if I enjoy it even half as much as To Kill a Mockingbird, then I have been given a gift. If I don't, well, maybe there was a reason that, for 60 years, Alice and Nell Lee fought to keep the book out of the publisher's hands. One thing is for certain, it will have a coveted place on my bookshelf and it will be treasured for what it is - a part of our cultural history.

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