Wednesday, July 15, 2015

To Read, or Not to Read: Go Set a Watchman

Okay, so I've been going back and forth on this one for a while.  Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman just came out and I am a huge fan of To Kill a Mockingbird.  I love it.  

I started out being really excited about a book by Harper Lee coming out, even if it is 50 years later.  I read up on it a little, and heard a piece about Harper Less on NPR and then my excitement waned a bit.

Does she really want this published?  Is she being manipulated?  I don't know.  I finally came to the conclusion that I didn't think she was, but was this only my own selfishness in wanting more about Scout and her family?  Was it me just wanting to love Atticus Finch even more than I already do?

And then two days ago I read a review on NPR Books by Maureen Corrigan.  My heart dropped.  Atticus is not Atticus?  He's bigoted?  What about Scout?  Is she the same, but grown up?  Or she a completely different character as well?  Just thinking about these things makes my heart hurt a little bit.

I know that this is supposed to be the original manuscript that Harper Lee submitted for publication, but was it was rejected, and she was asked to write more about Scout.  So although Go Set a Watchman takes place after To Kill a Mockingbird, it was written by a younger, less accomplished Lee.  I think about some of my own writing that I wrote at the beginning of my college career.  At the end of my college career as I went back through all those stories to put into portfolio, I was rolling my eyes and groaning at the amount of work needed to make any of them decent.  If I went back through them today, ten years later, I would probably end up trashing them (which is why I will avoid doing so!).  So now I am thinking that it would make sense that Lee didn't want them published.  Why would you want to publish something if you knew you already wrote it better, honed in on what you really wanted to say and created characters that became an inspiration to people?  Maybe I shouldn't read it.  

So I'm back to not reading it--for now.  I even feel guilty that I preordered it.  Maybe I will change my mind later on, but I look up to Atticus as a model for parenting and teaching.  He is a character who has always seemed to have finally come to a place where he was comfortable in who he was, not because he always was, but because he learned to be this way.  I never understood as him as perfect, but as someone who was always looking at life and how he could make it better and be a better person and how he could teach his children to do so.  

What do you think?  Are you reading it?  Holding off?  Not sure yet?

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  1. I won't be reading it anytime soon because I am one of the only people on the planet not to have read To kiill a mockingbird. The downside of having seen the movie first. I think you're making some good points though. It's hard to know what the author's intention was.

  2. I'm going back and forth now. I've read some commentary about how maybe Atticus Finch wasn't so great, but when Scout was little he was everything. Now she realizes her image of her father wasn't quite what she thought and he was only ever upholding the law. He was never actually fighting for the rights of African Americans, but instead doing what he thought was right because he believed in the law. I will need to read TKAM again too when I read Go Set a Watchman. But I'm not ready.