Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman draws hype and controversy

14 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Go Set a Watchman’ review: Harper Lee’s followup to ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ features a racist Atticus Finch.

For one day longer, Atticus Finch from Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” remained unblemished, a familiar paragon of virtue usually described alongside adjectives such as “noble,” “righteous” and “courageous.” In preparation for the much ballyhooed Tuesday, July 14 release of “Go Set a Watchman,” which presents Atticus in a very different and jarring light, Barnes and Noble held a “‘Mockingbird’ Read-A-Thon” at all of its stores including the two in Skokie — Westfield Old Orchard and Village Crossing.Less than 10 hours before the release of the most anticipated book in years, Jonathan Burnham, the publisher of Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins, was stuck in “a routine finance meeting” that ran late.

From 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on the eve of the release day, different readers were scheduled to take turns telling the story of Atticus as seen through the eyes of his precocious daughter, Scout. It was in these types of meetings, he explained a few minutes after extracting himself to call a reporter, that a joke was born. “There was always a joke, when we were making budgets, that maybe Harper Lee would deliver another novel,” said Mr. Do you want them in our world?” he asks his now-26-year-old daughter Jean Louise, known to the world as Scout from “To Kill a Mockingbird.” That beloved novel has held this nation in its moral sway for 55 years — carried almost entirely on the weight of Atticus Finch’s humble, honest humanity.

Early reviews may have already swayed readers to deem the novel good or bad, but whichever way you lean, there’s no doubt Lee has written lovely prose. Written in the third person, the novel follows the now grown-up Scout Finch on her return to Alabama from her home in New York to visit her father, 72-year old Atticus Finch. So the question isn’t “Is ‘Go Set a Watchman’ a worthy sequel?” The real question is “Can ‘Mockingbird’ and Lee’s reputation survive the follow-up?” “Watchman” — the sequel — is actually the first novel Lee submitted in 1957.

Fans have already embraced the sequel by opening their wallets — it’s the most pre-ordered book in publisher HarperCollins’s history — but they’ve also been quick to react to pre-released snippets of Watchman. But her editor was fascinated with the “Mockingbird” plotline that was reflected in flashbacks, so she asked for a rewrite of the book from the perspective of the 6-year-old Scout instead of the adult one. Lee would come pick him up and drive him to the nine-hole golf course for a round, where he would play in his business clothes: a three-piece suit, hard shoes and a felt hat. “I’ll never forget the way he drove. It turns out the heroic and moral father and lawyer, who fought for a black man’s rights after he was falsely accused of raping a white woman, is a racist. “It was a disturbing thing.

Too much of us and we’re nose-heavy, too much of them and we’re tail-heavy — it’s a matter of balance.” 8. “The hollering and high-mindedness over, all that would be left would be another shabby little affair a la the Birmingham country club set, and a self-constructed private Gehenna with the latest Westinghouse appliances. But in “Watchman,” Jean Louise returns to Maycomb, Ala., to find that her 72-year-old father is one of the racists leading the charge against Brown v.

Booksellers have opened early for big releases in the past, but usually they’re for books about Bella Swan and Edward Cullen or Harry Potter and Hermione Granger, not for serious-minded literature that continues a story from more than a half-century ago. “We have the opportunity to be at the birth of an American classic,” said Glarner. “This book and release will be remembered, hopefully, forever by everyone. HarperCollins has said that preorders for the book are the highest in the history of the publisher. “We’ve been keeping it away from the public, but we fully expect to be sold out,” said McCormack, the buyer for the store. Lee would write but a single novel, albeit one that won the Pulitzer Prize, sold tens of millions of copies around the world, and became a mainstay of school curriculums across North America. “In my time here, there’s been nothing as big as this,” said Leo MacDonald, senior vice president of sales and marketing at HarperCollins Canada, which will distribute 200,000 in Canada. “It’s a publishing event.” Excitement was ramping up at bookstores and libraries across the country, too. Lee, I’ve never ridden with someone who drove like that before, is there a particular reason?’ He said, ‘Oh sure son, you don’t use but half as much gas.’” It was on that golf course that Mr.

The book retails for $34.99 in Canada. “We usually sell at least one a week, but we’ve likely sold in the hundreds over the last few weeks,” said McCormack. “This is a book that has great nostalgia. That’s kind of like finding out Superman can’t fly.” Others said they were looking forward to revisiting these characters, even if the advance word about the book’s surprising direction gave them some trepidation. Lee. “I thought that train had left the station, and we were never going to be hearing anything from Harper Lee, except, perhaps, news of her death,” she said. “This came out of nowhere and it was very shocking. Such clichéd phrasing is a problem throughout “Watchman,” but Lee’s clumsy way with words is hardly disturbing compared to the discovery that Atticus is a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

Most of the club members would pay their caddies 15 cents for the first nine holes, and nothing if they played a second round. “He said, ‘No son, it’s not right,’” and always paid 30 cents for two rounds, Mr. Filmmaker Mary Murphy spent time with Lee’s circle of friends and business contacts — and even briefly with the author herself — for her documentary Harper Lee: American Masters. Alix Hall, director of culture for the Toronto branch of theculturetrip.com, says she won’t be reading the novel. “I loved the book, and really identified with the character of Scout and trying to be a grown-up” says Hall, a former elementary schoolteacher who first read the book in Grade 10. But lovely.” Interest in the book lies not only in the continued love of Mockingbird, but the circumstances surrounding its rediscovery and publication, reportedly found in a safe deposit box last August by her long-time attorney Tonja Carter. (In an op-ed published Sunday on the Wall Street Journal’s website, Ms.

Like Lee’s lawyer and publishers, she believes the 89-year old is “unequivocally” delighted to be publishing the work. “Harper Lee doesn’t do anything that she doesn’t want to,” Murphy told CBC News. “Her written statements that were released have reflected pleasure and happiness at the publication of another book. Some recognized Lee’s lyrical language from the past — when they read “Mockingbird” in junior high school or high school years ago. “This is a really great idea,” said Frank Parnita who did not know about the Read-A-Thon. “This brings back a lot of memories. Carter wrote “the manuscript for Watchman was underneath a stack of a significant number of pages of another typed text,” already leading to speculation about a third novel.) Alabama officials went so far as to launch an investigation as to whether the 89-year-old Ms.

Lee, who resides in an assisted-living facility in her hometown of Monroeville, was aware or consented to the novel’s publication – they concluded she was. But the 89-year-old author, now mostly confined to an assisted living facility, said in a statement she was “happy as hell” to see “Watchman” released. Perhaps it was hard all these years to carry around the secret that Atticus — so revered by the nation’s book lovers — was actually conceived as a proud bigot.

In the opening chapter, the now-26-year-old Jean Louise Finch, better known as Scout, returns to her childhood home of Maycomb, Ala., from New York, where she’s lived for several years. He sits on the board of directors of the Maycomb County Citizens’ Council, an odious organization convened in the wake of the Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 Brown v.

Board of Education decision to end school segregation, and it’s even revealed he once attended a KKK meeting. (“The one human being [Scout] had ever fully and wholeheartedly trusted had failed her,” writes Ms. It is, frankly, shocking to read Atticus say things like “You realize that our Negro population is backward, don’t you?” and “Honey, you do not seem to understand that the Negroes down here are still in their childhood as a people.” “I do feel that much of the … discussion has taken place between people who quite reasonably haven’t yet read the book,” said Mr.

Let’s not say this isn’t worth reading because, ‘Oh, he’s a segregationist – that’s so out of step, that’s so pathetic.’ No, there are still many people today who see words like diversity and multiculturalism in the same light.

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