Tuesday, July 14, 2015

What's In A Name?

From the Internet

Be sure to check out, my post, "My Review... Thank You Ms. Lee For Your Darling," which was written after I read the book.


Today, a long awaited book was released that is causing fanfare for a number of reasons.

I have doubts that this book will fill my quest for a summer smut book; all the same, here we go.

I last read Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird, many years ago.  Once in junior high, and a couple more times, because I did enjoy it.


After watching this CNN Interview

and reading this New York Times review

I've come up with some thoughts; take them for how you like.

I've heard press say that Go Set A Watchman was  to be a sequel.  Then I heard someone say today that it was a prequel of sorts.  It's neither.

It's a first draft.

     That draft, according to the article above, Ms. Lee gave to a publisher in 1957.  The publisher  told Ms. Lee to rework the manuscript, so the story was to be told as seen through the eyes of a child.  Thus, emerged the much loved, Pulitzer Prize winning, great American novel
     But, let's get back to that first draft.
     So apparently, it sat around for 50+ years, was discovered, and holy moly, who in America was not excited about the idea of reading another book by Harper Lee?  Oh, and it was a continuation about the same characters?  Scout and Atticus.  Whoopee!  So, pronto, there's the hype leading to the pomp and circumstance.
     Now, that some details have emerged, the honeymoon is over.

    But I really don't think it should be.

Have you ever written a book?

I have.
     A children's book.  I spent the better part of 2 years writing.  Then, research to try to get it published.  Whenever I could;I researched for close to a year, and found that it stood a much greater chance of getting published, if it was under 1000 words.  It was more than, 3000.  I believe someone termed it, "murder your darlings."  It's crushing.  Not to mention, grueling and tedious.
     Long story short, I cut it to under 1000 words, submitted it to a maximum of 5 carefully researched publishers.  I did this for 3 years, and was honored to receive 3 rejection letters.  At least, they possibly read it.  I still have the rejection letters, the manuscript, and the original.  My Darling.

     Back to Harper Lee.  She had a darling.  That she kept.  Damn straight she kept it.  Who knows how many hours/days/years, that manuscript came to be?  We can approximate that it took 2-3 years for To Kill A Mockingbird, so I'd be willing to bet 3-5 for the original idea, to organize, to write it down.

So, it's easy to see why she kept it.  

     Now, this is what is unclear to me.  Given Ms. Lee's health over the last few years, I don't think she's been doing much writing, if any.  Then, this long lost manuscript is uncovered, three years ago.  As the article that is linked suspects, maybe even longer. 

     If I was Ms. Lee, I would be overjoyed that my darling was finally going to be published.  We gained a lot as well.  We get another story from this extraordinary talent.  But given the PR for the book, I can understand why some readers are less than pleased.  But I think they're looking at it all wrong.

     Go Set A Watchman, was (I think) To Kill A Mockingbird, before, the editors, the publishers, the marketers got their fingers on it.

     It was how Atticus and Scout came to Ms. Lee.  (Again, I think).  Considering the subject matter is racial tensions, and considering the time when it was written was right after Brown vs. Board of Eduction Go Set A Watchman was written during what was then, present day.  And that I think, is interesting.  It would have been interesting to find out what the reasoning of the the editor, Tay Hohoff, was, who called for the changes.  They were without question, tumultuous times.  Did she just think the manuscript was too much of what she saw in the news, or what she experienced on a day to day?  
     Considering the editor, Tay Hohoff, was a woman and an editor in 1957, is so interesting as well.  I've always wondered if Ms. Lee would have preferred to use her first name, Nelle, or if the more androgynous "Harper", was indeed her preference.  Oh well, that's for another post.
     Point is, this extraordinary talent wrote a book, because she's an observer.  One, who doesn't wish to be observed.  No matter.  We got the goods.
     Go Set A Watchman is not To Kill A Mockingbird.  Still, in 2015, with what's been happening lately in the US of A, I'm willing to bet that Go Set A Watchman, will make its own mark based on its own merit.  
     It's not a sequel.  They just have the same author, and some of the same character names, as the other book.  Perhaps, if those angry at the notion that Atticus is a bigot, changed the name to... whatever (Not touching that, with a 10 ft pole), that would help.  Change all the names, if that helps.  The names matter not.  It's the story that counts.  The message.  The heart of the matter.

She gave us a gift.  Now, there's another one.

Thank you, Ms. Lee.





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