Last week I took a much needed R & R. I enjoyed fun in the sun with the love of my life, and our wonderful family. Throw in good food, great books and I could not have asked for a better time.
Which brings me to this blog.
I’m having book withdrawal.
Withdrawal isn’t the right word.
Hmm, haunted is more like it.
Yes, I’m being haunted by Go Set a Watchman.
Have you ever read a book so good the words stayed with you long after the last paragraph?
I’ve started several books since I read Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee, but I’ve finished none. Because, not one of them measured up to the high bar set by Ms. Lee. So haunted is a good word.
If you ever doubted the importance of a good editor, and what an editor can do for a writer, this book should set those doubts to rest.
It’s my understanding that when Ms. Lee first submitted Go Set A Watchman, her editor felt the book was too raw and real for the current time. However, her editor recognized a tiny gold nugget in the novel. She asked Ms. Lee to write more about one small passage, and believe me it is small. Her editor felt the time was ripe for a champion, but it could not be a young woman. So to To Kill A Mockingbird was born.
Let me say I love Go Set A Watchman! The prose of Ms. Lee transported me back to a time and place, that for some, might be as hard to imagine as frontiers visited on a Star Trek episode.
However, for those of us who lived it, we know she revealed the truth of how people lived, thought, spoke and often treated each other. Truth is not always pretty, it does not always set us free, but without it we live a lie. I find it sad that as far as we have grown as a people, there are still some who today live, think and say things that keep them ensconced in the old South.
Don’t miss out on this wonderful book out of concern or fear for the loss of a hero. To make Atticus Finch a crusader or a villain is to short change both the character and the author. He was simply a man of his time. Flesh, blood and human filled with flaws, fears and ambition. Atticus, like so many of us strived to just get along, to just get by in the world in which he lived.
Ms. Lee pulled back the curtain and revealed there was no great and powerful Oz, only a man. With Scout we watch the Godlike awe of her father crumble and fall away to reveal a mere mortal, flesh and blood man. We feel her heartache and love as she comes of age and comes to grip with life as it is not as she wishes it was.
Ms. Lee wrote some hard truths, but unlike a lot of writers she did it in real-time, not hindsight. What a wonderful gift to us, her readers.
I hope readers will embrace this beautiful literary prose with open arms.
In Go Set A Watchman, Ms. Lee held up a mirror and revealed life as she saw it and ask the question what do you see.
I will cherish and reread this book many times. I’m sad there are not more books hidden in her attic.