Harper Lee: Fans on queuing for Go Set a Watchman release | News Entertainment

Harper Lee: Fans on queuing for Go Set a Watchman release

14 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Book Lovers Ready For Midnight Release Of Second Book By ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ Author Harper Lee.

In “Go Set a Watchman,” Scout Finch discovers her 72-year old father Atticus Finch has attended Klu Klux Klan meetings and advocates for segregation.The eagerly awaited and controversial second novel by reclusive To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee has been released to bookstores as her lawyer hinted the 89-year-old may have written a third book.

The New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani wasted no time expressing her shock that in the first version of the novel that was eventually released as “To Kill a Mockingbird,” beloved father and enlightened rural Alabama lawyer Atticus Finch was a bigot. Due to pre-orders, it has been the number one bestseller at online retailer Amazon for months, and publisher HarperCollins has ordered a first print run of 2 million copies. Lee’s previous novel is considered a 20th century masterpiece that defined racial injustice in the Depression-era South and became standard reading in classrooms. But this, like all key pieces of important literature, asks us key questions about ourselves,” one man said. “To have something that is a property that was unknown about for such a long time to be released is so huge and the interest surrounding this is just phenomenal,” Lita Weissman said. Although we moved away when I was a small child, my family returned often to visit my parents’ best friends, who lived two doors down from the famous author.

In Lee’s home town of Monroeville in Alabama, where she lives in strict privacy at a nursing home, the small community’s only secular bookstore is celebrating with a launch party at midnight. Because the book wouldn’t be available to the general public for days, we had only the analysis of a few privileged critics to go by. “The depiction of Atticus in ‘Watchman’ makes for disturbing reading, and for ‘Mockingbird’ fans, it’s especially disorienting,” Ms. The Ol’ Curiosities and Book Shoppe is offering special editions with embossed title pages to customers who pre-order and promises a Peck impersonator will amuse revellers. Kakutani writes. “Scout is shocked to find, during her trip home, that her beloved father, who taught her everything she knows about fairness and compassion, has been affiliating with raving anti-integration, anti-black crazies, and the reader shares her horror and confusion.

How could the saintly Atticus … suddenly emerge as a bigot?” So after half a century being celebrated as our most endearing symbol of liberal paternalism, Atticus Finch is suddenly revealed in the pages of this previously unknown manuscript as (drum roll, please) … a typical Southern gentleman of the times. When I grew up to be a young journalist who happened to hail from Harper Lee’s hometown, every editor at every job I had assigned me to use my Monroeville connections to get an interview with the famous recluse.

Instead of the anachronistic saint of “Mockingbird” whose progressive ideas about race in backwater Alabama in the 1930s could only have existed in science fiction novels, the Atticus of “Watchman” is a flawed, white Southerner filled with racial anxieties that will be familiar to bigots and xenophobes. Dutifully, I would write a letter explaining who I was, and why I was the one journalist who should be allowed to score the elusive interview with her. Professor Girigi Nagaswami, Head of the English Department at Philadelphia Community College, says Watchman could change everything. “Often there are no clear lines as to what is absolutely right and absolutely wrong in the way you view the world,” said Jonathan Burnham of Lee’s publishing company. In other words, in the original version of her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Harper Lee portrayed Atticus the way a lawyer of his race and class in the deep South during the 1950s would have actually comported himself. “Watchman,” according to early reviews, is about the tension between a grown-up Jean Louise “Scout” Finch and her elderly father as their deeply racist Alabama town resists inroads by the insurgent civil rights movement. Mary McDonagh Murphy, a writer and producer, met Lee when she filmed the author being presented British and US editions of her new novel by publishers at a Monroeville restaurant on June 30.

Lee’s editor, didn’t believe American consumers were sophisticated enough to read such an uncompromising indictment of American racism when it was submitted for publication in 1957. Whereas Atticus displayed moral integrity in “Mockingbird,” he says things in “Watchman” like “The Negroes down here are still in their childhood as a people.” The revelation last week that Atticus was depicted as a racist in “Watchman” was cause for consternation and disappointment among “Mockingbird” fans. The biggest bombshell for die-hard fans has been that Scout’s adored father Atticus expresses racist views, a seeming fall from grace for one of America’s most loved literary heroes.

A few years later, I published my first novel, A World Made of Fire, a Southern Gothic tale written in iambic pentameter, set in the Alabama countryside of the early 20th century. A jazz band played in the background. “Watchman” takes place in the 1950s, 20 years after “Mockingbird.” Scout (now going by Jean Louise) is a 26-year-old woman who returns home to Maycomb, Ala., for a visit from New York City. She remarked on the coincidence of “you, me, and Truman all from the same little town.” She said nice things about my writing and wished me luck going forward.

The novel is the most preordered book in the company’s history. “This is the biggest book event of the year, and we’ve had the biggest number of preorders” for any large publication in recent years, said Andy Quinn, who leads events at Foyles. Through all the joy and pain of first publication, Miss Nelle’s kind words made me feel as if I had been officially welcomed into the club. “HELL NO” had magically become “HELL YES.” I finally did get to meet her, on a hot summer day when my Daddy and I were having lunch at David’s Catfish House in Monroeville.

Many in attendance said they were drawn to the book because racism and equality once again dominated the national conversation in the United States. “It’s a really interesting time to talk about issues related to race and class,” said Jennifer Warren, a lawyer from the East New York section of Brooklyn. She added that she was planning to read “Watchman” and wondered how its description of a Southern town from generations ago would resonate with younger readers, who had grown up with President Obama, the country’s first black president. Caleb Sweeny, 28, and Dan Harrola, 29, who had come up from Quincy, southeast of Boston, for the screening, discussed some of the drawbacks around the book’s publishing, including the mystery surrounding whether Ms.

He’s no longer too good to be true, but he is “real.” Just as supporters of the Confederate battle flag insist it is a genteel heirloom of Southern heritage, the Atticus Finch of the last half century has been a fake, too, in a way.

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