I think it was back in high school when I read To Kill a Mockingbird, which would be over forty years ago. It was probably too early to fully appreciate the book. I’ve never read it since but have come across many who love it. It still sells at a brisk pace earning $1.7 million per year for its 88 year old author, Harper Lee. It was the only book she ever published and she swore she would not publish another. Until now.
It has been announced, with some controversy apparently, that another manuscript of Lee’s has been found. Go Set a Watchman is set twenty years later than To Kill a Mockingbird but was written first. Tonya Carter, Lee’s attorney, found the manuscript while doing some legal work for Lee and realized that while Scout and Atticus Finch were part of the story, they were older and this was a different story. According to a New York Times interview with Carter, Lee acknowledged that this was the “parent” of To Kill a Mockingbird, because the publisher wanted a younger Scout.
This is the publishing blockbuster of the year. The controversy only adds to the interest. Why would Lee only now consent to its publication? Was it really lost all this time? Was she pressured by her lawyer? Whatever the truth may be and whatever the quality of the book, it is currently the #1 bestseller on Amazon even though it won’t be released until July 14.
I wonder if after all these years whether Harper Lee wants to vindicate the judgment that led her to write this book. It is interesting to think that Go Set a Watchman was the original idea and To Kill a Mockingbird the afterthought. Given the acclaim and publishing history of the latter, I wonder if she truly believed her initial book to be lost. Otherwise, it would seem logical to follow it up with this book–the reading public would eat it up, even as it is now. I kind of wonder if she is thinking, “if you liked Mockingbird, you should see the book they never let me publish.”
So I’m inclined to take this at face value. But whatever is the case I find myself like the rest of reading America anticipating the release of this new novel–and wanting to revisit the now classic To Kill a Mockingbird, which is temporarily out of stock on Amazon. Apparently, I’m not the only one eager to reacquaint himself with Atticus Finch and Scout.