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Go Set a Watchman

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Anybody reading it??

I'm not sure I can bring myself to...

#1 - July 14, 2015, 03:31 PM

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I feel the same way. I don't want my vision of Atticus changed! I've also heard that it really reads like a draft-- don't know if that is true or not. It would be interesting to study-- from a writer's process perspective-- but as excited as I was about this coming out, I think I might skip it.
#2 - July 14, 2015, 03:46 PM

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I'm rereading Mockingbird and bought Watchman today.  I don't have any expectations that it is going to be great, but I think it will be utterly fascinating to see what Mockingbird was in its first stage and to study the differences.  That's a lesson in craft like no other!
#3 - July 14, 2015, 03:59 PM
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How can it be as good as Mockingbird when the bar is so high? I think I'll skip it, too - although Rebecca's idea to see it as a Mockingbird in its first stage is interesting.

Mockingbird is one of those rare books that I read over and over and am still stunned each time by how beautifully it's written.
#4 - July 14, 2015, 05:23 PM

Have no interest in reading it and never will. There is a reason why this trunk novel was never published while her sister/protector Alice was still alive. From the reports I've read, Harper Lee, now 89 and in a nursing home, is in ill health, hard of hearing and poor eyesight, with short term memory issues. You will have a hard time convincing me that she is fully cognizant of what is happening.
#5 - July 14, 2015, 07:49 PM
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I'll be reading it too, for the same reasons as Rebecca.
Vijaya
#6 - July 15, 2015, 07:38 AM
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Have no interest in reading it and never will. There is a reason why this trunk novel was never published while her sister/protector Alice was still alive. From the reports I've read, Harper Lee, now 89 and in a nursing home, is in ill health, hard of hearing and poor eyesight, with short term memory issues. You will have a hard time convincing me that she is fully cognizant of what is happening.

My feelings exactly. 
#7 - July 15, 2015, 07:42 AM
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I didn't buy the book and likely won't read it because the provenance of it and its "discovery" bothered me from the get-go. However, our own Kurtis has a really good post on his blog about this book. It's thoughtful in a way Kurtis always is, and it bucks the general trend of critiques I couldn't help bump into regarding Go Set a Watchman. Kurtis' post:

http://kurtisscaletta.com/2015/07/15/go-set-a-record-straight/
#8 - July 15, 2015, 11:55 AM
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I'm in the "nonread" camp. I also don't think I could reread TKAM now either. I have many fond memories of it from my teen years, but I think I would read it differently now -- a lot would disturb me about portrayals of gender, class, and especially race now that I have read, studied, and lived more. Like even then it bothered me as a kid when Jem said if you weren't a virgin it wasn't really rape unless you were hollering and screaming and fighting. Oh Jem. No.

Of course, a re-read would valuable from a scholarly point of view, just as reading WATCHMAN would be, but I don't want to be disillusioned.
#9 - July 15, 2015, 12:16 PM
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Thanks for posting the link, Mirka. It was a wonderful review. It makes me want to read Watchman even more. Earlier this spring, at StoryMasters workshop, we dissected TKAM and I learned so much. Harper Lee will always remain someone who observed and wrote truthfully about her times. We all get old and die, but what a legacy she leaves behind.

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#10 - July 15, 2015, 01:56 PM
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What Kurtis said is very eye-opening. He does handle it well.
#11 - July 15, 2015, 03:23 PM

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Kurtis did a great job. Very good review.
#12 - July 15, 2015, 03:29 PM
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I have not read it yet, but since I was born and raised in the south in the 60's and 70's, I find it surprising if others find it surprising that Atticus is a bigot. I wonder what other southerners think. I don't see some huge change, just a more complete character development.
#13 - July 15, 2015, 04:36 PM
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I haven't read the new book yet, but I have read detailed reviews. Here is what I think:

Harper Lee wanted to write a book about bigotry and how wrong it was. In her first ms, a grownup Scout is the one who knows this, and must come to terms with the fact that the two men she loves the most are bigots.  In this ms, the issue is viewed from the perspective of an adult who has moved away from the south. It wasn't quite right. The editor she sent it to probably made a few suggestions. I don't know what they were, HOWEVER

Harper Lee then tackled the same issue again, this time from innocent and noncomprehending viewpoint of a Southern child--which was a brilliant move. Because the child could not be the one to confront the issues, Atticus was re-cast as the character we know today. This time, Lee got it so right that it struck right to the heart of her readers, and the book was published.

Any writer who has struggled to say something important has gone through the same sort of convolutions.

I have read portions of the first through seventh draft of Tolkien's LORD OF THE RINGS. In the first and several subsequent drafts Strider was a long-nosed Hobbit named Trotter who wore wooden shoes, and Bongo Baggins had a great adventure. :)

I'm sure Tolkien would be horrified by the fact they were printed. He was a perfectionist, and I love his work. But to me, the drafts have been a gift. They have has taught me so much about the slow growth of a brilliant book. About working with an idea until it finally comes out *right*.

I expect that comparing Lee's two books will help me grow even more as a writer. Understand even more of my craft.

So, yeah. I'm going to read it as soon as I get the two novels I am editing at the moment in….

:) eab
#14 - July 15, 2015, 06:27 PM

I respectfully disagree with Kurtis. And I point to this....

http://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2015-harper-lee-go-set-a-watchman/

This is not a sequel to TKAM. WATCHMAN is the first draft of what became TKAM. It is the draft the publisher rejected. It is also the draft which was now published without any edits from the ailing Harper Lee.  Kurtis wrote in his essay: "If this is not the same Atticus, and if this is not a sequel, there is utterly no point to the book."

If Harper Lee had wanted this book published years ago, it would have been published. It was never lost. It was right there in the safety deposit box. It had been written about. People knew of it. But how convenient---the sister dies and the manuscript is "discovered" by the lawyer. It's a brilliant marketing ploy. But it doesn't pass the smell test for me.
#15 - July 15, 2015, 07:42 PM
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Yes, I can see her writing reality, and then ended up writing the character she wanted to see in her own father.
#16 - July 15, 2015, 08:32 PM
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Lee had a complicated relationship with her father, true. And his criminal defense lawyer career was pretty short.
#17 - July 15, 2015, 08:39 PM
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I think I agree with Limamma's opinion, that it isn't a sequel, but a rejected first draft.

This rings true to me:

Quote
This is not a sequel to TKAM. WATCHMAN is the first draft of what became TKAM. It is the draft the publisher rejected. It is also the draft which was now published without any edits from the ailing Harper Lee.  Kurtis wrote in his essay: "If this is not the same Atticus, and if this is not a sequel, there is utterly no point to the book."

If Harper Lee had wanted this book published years ago, it would have been published. It was never lost. It was right there in the safety deposit box. It had been written about. People knew of it. But how convenient---the sister dies and the manuscript is "discovered" by the lawyer. It's a brilliant marketing ploy. But it doesn't pass the smell test for me.
#18 - July 15, 2015, 08:54 PM
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Yes, I can see her writing reality, and then ended up writing the character she wanted to see in her own father.

Yes. I agree with this totally.
#19 - July 15, 2015, 09:51 PM

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I might eventually get around to checking this out from the library, but I won't spend money on it. I'm very skeptical about how the publication came about.

Our local (and only) children's bookstore is closing. I combed the shelves and found a Harper Lee biography which I bought instead.
#20 - July 16, 2015, 07:52 AM
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As I said, the whiff of shady stuff around this whole literary event makes me want to stay away. I'm not a detective, (though I get to play one when I write  ;) ) and while I find the cloak-and-dagger (or attorney cape and typewriter, in this case) uncomfortably fishy, (though interesting in itself) I dislike that this happened to an American classic. I'm not even drawn to reading Go Set a Watchman.

But Kurtis made an excellent point that resonated with me. His point, about the horror and discomfort of readers at Atticus the ordinary run-of-the-mill southern racist, is a blow to what the classic gave our nation: an image of the principled and noble white southerner who is as American in character as one can be. That Atticus was his own man, and devoted to the law. We needed a noble southerner then, and we got one. This sequel/prequel/first draft/or forgery (take you pick) steps on a sore wound most of us would rather think has healed, or was healing with the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird.

Good reading experiences make us think, and re-think. With Kurtis' take on it, I sense this was a good reading experience for him. His review alone made me think, so I recommend it as a very good review.
#21 - July 16, 2015, 09:10 AM
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For a lighter tone, you might want to read a book report on it by a tenth grader. One of my critique partners posted this on Facebook. It's hysterical.

http://grantland.com/hollywood-prospectus/a-high-school-book-report-on-harper-lees-go-set-a-watchman/
#22 - July 22, 2015, 06:44 AM

This review is funny, but it was written by Merrill Markoe,  comedy writer--she was David Letterman's GF back in the day, I believe.
#23 - July 22, 2015, 06:51 AM
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 :sigh
Have no interest in reading it and never will. There is a reason why this trunk novel was never published while her sister/protector Alice was still alive. From the reports I've read, Harper Lee, now 89 and in a nursing home, is in ill health, hard of hearing and poor eyesight, with short term memory issues. You will have a hard time convincing me that she is fully cognizant of what is happening.

I agree with LIMAMA  :sigh
#24 - July 22, 2015, 07:11 AM
Creative blessings to you ~

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ah, thank you, Limama. Never fully believe what's on Facebook... :embarrassed3
#25 - July 22, 2015, 07:30 AM

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 ;D That review was funny, and exposed all the right points about us, the readers. We want our illusions just the way they were, thank you very much.

For me it's the provenance of this "newly discovered" book that bothers me. It sure made for a literary caper/event though. Already a million plus sold. That's one thing I don't begrudge any author whether it's really their book or not. Ms. Lee earned it with the first book.
#26 - July 22, 2015, 09:55 AM
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Okay, no matter who wrote it, that review was funny.
#27 - July 22, 2015, 10:46 AM

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Okay, no matter who wrote it, that review was funny.

Oh, my gosh. That review needs to come with a beverage alert. Too, too funny.
#28 - July 22, 2015, 01:07 PM

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The clue that it wasn't written by a 10th grader is that the printing is way too good.
#29 - July 22, 2015, 04:15 PM

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