Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Will you read "Go Set a Watchmen" Harper Lee?

The much anticipated "other book" by Harper Lee came out July 14th. Go Set a Watchmen.

When I first heard another novel by Ms. Lee was found and would be published, that was about the same characters in To Kill A Mockingbird, I thought to myself; Oh yes. I want to read that.

It came out the 14th and has been all over the news. Some of the publicity and comments have been confusing to me. A couple of things I heard around:
  • Atticus is a racist
  • The real Harper Lee comes out - she was a racist
  • Harper Lee didn't want this book published but "they found it" in her belongings when she was sick and senile and took it and published it against her wishes.
  • Sluggish first attempt
Well, these things made me think, no I don't want to read this book. I think we all have read To Kill a Mockingbird in middle school (Jr. High when I was that age) and many have seen the movie starring Gregory Peck as Atticus. Atticus was such a hero, defending Tom Robinson. It made us all proud.
I also have been thinking that I don't want to find out anything bad about Atticus. And I don't want to have my memories of Mockingbird tarnished, I guess.

So what is all of this about? I decided I would rather check out more of the "facts".

First, why the name Go Set a Watchmen? That sounds like bad English to me.
It is actually from a bible verse: Isaiah 21:6 "Meanwhile, the Lord said to me, "Put a watchman on the city wall. Let him shout out what he sees."

The story is indeed about Scout and Atticus but Scout is an adult living in New York and comes back home to visit Atticus. As an adult, she sees her father and herself in a different way. Many of the same characters are in the book.

To Kill a Mockingbird came out of Go Set a Watchmen. During the revisions, Ms. Lee was encouraged to write a separate book about Scout as a child and Atticus. Of course, Mocking bird was published first and has never been out of print.

Watchmen was apparently put away and forgotten until "found" in 2011 in an appraisal of Ms. Lee's assests. It was assumed it was a first draft of Mockingbird and again put away. In 2014, at a family gathering, Ms. Lee's lawyer learned of a second book. She went back to what she assumed was a draft of Mockingbird, and discovered it was a different book . It has been published as written by Harper Lee in 1957.

Also, I did not know that Harper Lee is still living. She is 89.

I will eventually read it. Will you?


  1. Maybe. Lots of controversy here. Did the author authorize or didn't she? Who knows? And, the fact that this book shows the beloved characters in a different light. I think it was almost inevitable that it would be a disappointment of sorts. Hard to follow up TKAM and not have criticism. Also, the fact that it was supposedly not edited at all. Well, it was a first book, right? Suspect it needed some editing. I'm not going to read it any time soon. Should we think about it in the book group? It will likely be a while before the hold list isn't endless. I'm on the fence about it.

  2. I was thinking we may want to read it in the book group. But it would have to be much later...I bet a couple of the members read it soon. Will see what they have to say. I think I will eventually at least start it and see what I think.