Monday, July 13, 2015

Happy 'Go Set A Watchman' Eve!

Well, the Lit nerd event of the summer is upon us! Described as the literary event of a lifetime, because no one predicted that more of reclusive Harper Lee's work would be released...ever, I have eagerly awaited my copy.

I have heard that it's HarperCollins' largest pre-order ever. Some have compared it to the release of the last Harry Potter novel. People are flocking to Harper Lee's hometown of Monroeville, AL to buy the book. Booksamillion and Barnes & Noble are also planning release events today and tomorrow.

Personally, I go way back with the film version of "To Kill A Mockingbird." I might have been three or four the first time I watched it. At that time, I only recall being interested in Jim, Scout, and Dill running around the town and playing in tires. To me, they were those bad kids I watched on tv. I was also very concerned that they were filmed in black & while instead of color (little did I know that the kids were actually adults in the 80s). I'm from a family of teachers, so they introduced me to movie versions of great Lit works very young. I also have fond but confused memories of "Watership Down" and "Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH." Anyways, to this day, I've probably seen "To Kill A Mockingbird" over a hundred times.

A few weeks ago, I listened to the audiobook in preparation of "Go Set A Watchman." Mostly to save time, I have read the book three times before, but it was foggy in my memory. And once again, I was in awe of Lee's work. She weaves a small town into life while writing from an innocent child's point-of-view AND makes it seem effortless. The book is not only a snapshot of the struggles against racism, but also addiction, poverty, mental illness, (possible) neurodevelopment disorders (Autism), education, sexism, and child abuse. It is a mixing pot social commentary, the likes of which have never been so uniquely explored again.



Revisiting the novel, I found myself so attached to the characters. People joke on social media about book hangovers, but I literally had one! I was so sad that it ended. I wanted to be there with Atticus when Jem woke up. I want to go to school Scout and see Dill's face during the summer when he hears that Scout finally met Boo. I want to go to church with Cal and laugh with Uncle Jack during the holidays.


With that, I have so many questions about the new book. I am aware, as I hope you are too, that it is not truly a sequel or a prequel to "To Kill A Mockingbird." It is the publication of her original draft of the book. In a sense, an alternative universe for the characters. So potentially:
  • Beloved characters may have different personalities
  • Some characters may not be included
  • There could be deaths
  • Certain events may or may not happen

Therefore, I realize that I could really, really hate this book. Drafts are drafts for a reason. Unfortunately, I've already heard some spoilers. Now I'm wondering if the reputation of certain characters can withstand their alternate forms.

My further musings include:
  • Atticus- Did he ever remarry? I ship him and Miss Maudie Atkinson.
  • Scout - Does she grow up to be a lawyer, writer, journalist? Could she be romantically linked to Dill, Walter, Cecil, or Tom Robinson's son or is she not interested in guys? Is she a lady now or still have a tomboy side?
  • Jem - Did he get an education? Play football? Or as Mrs. Dubose claimed, is he now in jail?
  • Dill - Is he still the world's biggest liar? Did his home-life improve? Is he, too, in jail?
  • Tom Robinson's Family - Did the community continue to help the family after Tom's death? Or when memory faded did the charity as well?
  • Boo - Is Boo alive and well? Or has he passed on? Did anyone let his "good deed" slip out?
  • The Ewell Family - Are these people still as wild and mean as ever? Are they hardened more because of Mr. Ewell's death?
Only time will tell if any of those questions are answered in "Go Set A Watchman." If you can't wait, you can go ahead and read the first chapter at: http://www.theguardian.com/books/ng-interactive/2015/jul/10/go-set-a-watchman-read-the-first-chapter

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