Much Ado About Nothing?


With all the controversy swirling around I can’t say I want to read this any more than I did when I pre-ordered it weeks ago.  I mean, I’ve always wanted to read another book by Harper Lee, and so, from the initial “discovery” of the manuscript to this copy held in my hands, I’m happy.  Right now, anyway.  If I am perhaps more anxious to hurry up and read, it’s only so I can form my own opinion, particularly now that I know I’ll read about a different Atticus Finch.  From what I understand, he won’t be the upstanding man portrayed in MOCKINGBIRD.  He’s stood on the pedestal of justice we built for him with righteousness and one could imagine even, conviction.  What a huge burden he’s carried all these fifty some years, what with living under false pretenses.  I guess that’s the issue.  I don’t really know other than what I’ve seen on TV or read in the paper.

But, with all that aside, the truth is, this IS the book Harper Lee originally wrote, the book that became TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.  MOCKINGBIRD is the result of an editor reading the GO SET A WATCHMAN (GSAW) manuscript and perhaps, with her editing pen tapping on her desk, she picked up the phone and called Ms. Lee and said, “I think the story needs to start earlier.  By twenty or thirty years.  Maybe a story about a young girl who reveres her father, and even more so after he shows her the true meaning right and wrong, patience and the complexities of living in a Jim Crow South.”

The editor did right by Harper Lee.  She gave her the advice any writer would want – the ability to look at a manuscript and see the story that was needed for that point in time.

You know what I’m most fascinated by?  That index card I saw, the one with the typed notes about GSAW and the fifty or so page increments brought in to the publisher, those notes that stated something like, “brought in by author” with the date, etc.  What an artifact!  The index card was shown on CBS morning news the day of the book’s release and I was SO hoping someone would flip that thing over so I could pause my TV and read the rest of what it said.

That is, in my opinion, a real piece of history, something that shouldn’t be lost.  They should have made bookmarks out of it and provided one to all us readers who’ve bought the book!

Anyway, I’m currently reading COMING OF AGE IN MISSISSIPPI by Ann Moody which is another eye opener, and I’m only about halfway done.  Whenever I get into GSAW and finish, I’ll be sure to throw in my two cents worth here.  After all, I’ve only read MOCKINGBIRD about five times now, the last time when the 50th Anniversary edition came out and I bought it, remembering it as one of my favorite all time reads as a child, not to mention the movie with Gregory Peck.

I hope I’m not disappointed by WATCHMAN.  I plan to steer clear of reading too much more about all of it beforehand.  In some small way, I’m a bit stupefied by the “shock” of the press over the so called “plot twist” about Atticus’ true nature.  At this point in time it sounds a lot like the typical path taken by a writer who worked with an editor to produce the best book she possibly could.  Newsflash, this still happens today – except we don’t drop into a publisher, we email our work.  The rest is the same.

We write.

Editors help us produce a better book.

And excuse the pun, but, end of story, right?

Doesn’t that make all this really much ado about nothing?


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