Yesterday we heard that Harper Lee, the famously old (and reclusive) author of To Kill A Mockingbird, is to release a new novel: Go Set A Watchman.
1. Initially people on Twitter and Facebook were super excited by the news – Channel 4 rather pointlessly collected some of the responses here. I started to think maybe I should read To Kill A Mockingbird, which I’ve never quite managed to get round to.
2. A BBC journalist (and several other people) mistakenly referred to Lee as ‘he’ in a tweet, and was absolutely ripped for it. ‘What, women can’t be introspective geniuses?’ read one outraged response I saw. Well in fairness, wherever would they find the time in between all the cooking, cleaning, childbearing and such?
To be honest, I’m inclined to chalk those tweets up to ignorance of the author and her work as opposed to being a woman hating fuck – come on, if you’re not familiar with the name or work then Harper Lee could be either or, couldn’t it? – but we all love a good rant.
3. Then Jezebel and assorted other sources started reminding everyone that this book was actually begun before To Kill A Mockingbird, and wasn’t it slightly odd that the MS remained in a drawer for more than 50 years – right up until Lee’s sister (and lawyer) died, in fact? The implication being that the peeps looking after the elderly and fragile Lee now are perhaps more interested in cash than content. Which is horrible and sad, and I hope it isn’t true.
However, I will hold on to the thought that although as someone with about 15 manuscripts in my drawers (OK, computer), mostly of dubious quality, I haven’t had 50 years to revise them. Harper has.
OK, so maybe the new book will only be alright, rather than a Pulitzer winning thing of greatness – we won’t know until we know. One thing, though, is certain. The internet will respond like a toddler on limeade either way.