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To shill a mockingbird

 
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Angelina



Joined: 09 Dec 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2015 1:06 am    Post subject: To shill a mockingbird Reply with quote

To shill a mockingbird: How a manuscript's discovery became Harper Lee's new novel

The Washington Post offers this well researched, take-no-prisoners commentary:

Click here to read:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/to-shill-a-mockingbird-how-the-discovery-of-a-manuscript-became-harper-lees-new-novel/2015/02/16/48656f76-b3b9-11e4-886b-c22184f27c35_story.html

or

http://wapo.st/1zl1N1R
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Lyanna



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PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2015 1:11 am    Post subject: To shill a mockingbird Reply with quote

I haven't read the article, but I understood, from tv news, that this manuscript was a draft for To Kill a Mockingbird?

I'll have to come back and read it later.
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inkling7
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2015 1:32 am    Post subject: To shill a mockingbird Reply with quote

I read somewhere that she wrote this book first and it was set 20 years later with Scout as a grown woman who comes back to visit her now quite old father but the publishers wanted a story from when Scout was a little girl...I don't remember why she called it Go Set a Watchman....
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Mr. Write



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PostPosted: Tue Jul 21, 2015 11:16 pm    Post subject: Go Set a Watchman review Reply with quote

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-bohjalian/the-mockingbird-that-migh_b_7827306.html

The "Mockingbird" That Might Have Hatched -- But Didn't. A review of "Go Set a Watchman"

Unless you have been living under a rock -- or in self-imposed isolation with Boo Radley -- you have probably watched the ballyhooed publication of Harper Lee's "Go Set a Watchman" last week.

Barnes & Noble hasn't released the actual number it sold the day the book arrived on Tuesday, but the bookstore chain has announced that the novel now boasts its single day sales record. In other words, the father-daughter tag team of Scout and Atticus Finch thoroughly whipped even Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey, and the books about that pair have sold upwards of 125 million copies around the globe.

Spurring the excitement has been the reality that Harper Lee never published another book after "To Kill a Mockingbird" in 1960, and so an additional tale about Scout and Atticus felt like a miraculous little bonus. When we learned the weekend before "Go Set a Watchman" arrived that Atticus Finch might be a racist in this novel, we grew only more curious. Yes, some readers balked that a cherished cultural totem was being vilified -- Good heavens, people name their sons after the lawyer who stood up against racism and injustice in a small Alabama town in the heart of the Great Depression -- but for most of us, it only deepened our interest. This additional book (and note that I do not use the word "new") was set in the 1950s, two decades after "To Kill a Mockingbird," and there were those who feared that the story was an undiscovered sequel and Atticus had lost his bearings and aged really badly.

So, let's set the record straight: "Go Set a Watchman" is not a sequel to "To Kill a Mockingbird." It is an earlier version of what would become the book that so many millions of us read first in middle school and then reread as adults. I understand the criticisms some people have with "Mockingbird" (Thomas Mallon famously called it "moral Ritalin."), but even when I was reading it aloud to my daughter when she was young, I was often sniffing back tears. I love that book and I respect that book.

So I was among the millions who dove into "Go Set a Watchman" on Tuesday night, the day the novel went on sale. Should you dive in now? My short answer is, "Why not?" It is an apprentice work, its principal problem being that nothing happens -- more on that in a moment. Read it as the early, rejected book that Harper Lee would retool completely into her Pulitzer Prize winner. Do not read it as a sequel or even as a book that would have been published, I imagine, if "To Kill a Mockingbird" did not exist.

Harper Lee made four principal changes after "Go Set a Watchman" was rejected by editor Tay Hohoff, who suggested that she re-imagine it from Scout's perspective as a child. She seems to have taken Hohoff's advice: She moved the setting from the 1950s to the 1930s. She rewrote it in the first person, in the voice of Scout Finch, a woman in her mid-30s looking back on her childhood. She transformed Atticus Finch from the sort of man who asks his daughter in "Watchman" in all seriousness, "Do you want Negroes by the carload in our schools and churches and theaters? Do you want them in our world?" into a brave lawyer with a profoundly accurate moral compass. And she found the action necessary to propel a novel forward: the riveting, wrenching rape trial of African-American Tom Robinson, and his heroic defense by Atticus Finch.

Enormous changes? You bet. But not unheard of in the evolution of many novels. I have made edits to drafts of my own work every bit as dramatic. Exhibit A? "The Double Bind" was originally a first person novel. Exhibit B? There was no courtroom drama in my earliest pages of "Midwives."

Still, there are entire passages that are almost identical in "Mockingbird" and "Watchman." I noticed two, including the paragraph about why there are two spellings of Cunningham in Old Sarum (p. 44 in "Watchman" and p. 153 in my ancient copy of "Mockingbird" that once belonged to my mother). Keith Collins and Nikhil Sonnad share eight such paragraphs on the website quartz.com.

In "Go Set a Watchman," 26-six-year old Jean Louise Finch returns to Maycomb, Alabama, from Manhattan to visit her ailing father, Atticus. Her brother, Jem, passed away a few years earlier. And there she witnesses her father in the courthouse with "the county's most respectable men," listening to racist firebrands arguing how to battle back against the NAACP and keep "snot-nosed" African-Americans -- though they use a considerably less acceptable noun -- out of white schools. Atticus is not especially fond of these men, but he worries that "the Negroes down here are still in their childhood as a people." And so Jean Louise is utterly devastated to learn that the father she revered as a girl, the man Atticus would become in "To Kill a Mockingbird," is imperfect. Can she still love him? Will she?

That is essentially the novel.

What else happens? There are a couple of flashbacks to Jean Louise's embarrassing adolescence. Her uncle, usually the voice of reason, slugs her in a moment that is presented more as comic relief (he is literally trying to knock some sense into her) than as the deeply disturbing violence against women that it is. And the Civil War is deemed a struggle for state's rights, not the fight to make men free -- passages that are especially disturbing this summer in light of the massacre of nine worshippers at a historic black church in South Carolina and the appalling way some people still defended flying the Confederate battle flag.

Is this a more historically accurate and believable picture of an Alabama lawyer in the 1950s than the saintly Atticus Finch from the 1930s we all know and love? Perhaps. Is "Go Set a Watchman" a helpful primer to the politics of the South as the Civil Rights movement began to gain steam? Maybe. Those might be reasons as well to read the book.

Moreover, some of the prose is lovely and I think the first line is destined to be a classic: "Since Atlanta, she had looked out the dining-car window with a delight almost physical."

My sense, however, is that a decade from now we will look back at "Go Set a Watchman" as a footnote, and it will be read solely to see how a great novelist revised a great novel.
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Lyanna



Joined: 12 Oct 2013
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 21, 2015 11:19 pm    Post subject: Re: To shill a mockingbird Reply with quote

Lyanna wrote:
I haven't read the article, but I understood, from tv news, that this manuscript was a draft for To Kill a Mockingbird?

This is what made me think that:

<<So, let's set the record straight: "Go Set a Watchman" is not a sequel to "To Kill a Mockingbird." It is an earlier version of what would become the book that so many millions of us read first in middle school and then reread as adults.>>
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Mr. Write



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PostPosted: Sun Jul 26, 2015 3:07 pm    Post subject: The Harper Lee ‘Go Set a Watchman’ Fraud Reply with quote

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/25/opinion/joe-nocera-the-watchman-fraud.html

The New York Times
The Harper Lee ‘Go Set a Watchman’ Fraud
Joe Nocera
July 25, 2015

Called away on family business, I was afraid I’d missed the sweet spot for commentary on the Harper Lee/“To Kill a Mockingbird”/“Go Set a Watchman” controversy — that moment right after “Watchman’s” release on July 14 when it was all anybody in literary circles could talk about.

Then again, the Rupert Murdoch-owned publishing house HarperCollins announced just this week that it had sold more than 1.1 million copies in a week’s time, making it the “fastest-selling book in company history.” “Watchman” has rocketed to the top of the New York Times
best-seller list, where it will surely stay for a while. And the Rupert Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal not only excerpted the first chapter on the Friday before publication, but it also gave its readers a chance to win a signed first edition of the book.Talk about synergy!

So perhaps it’s not too late after all to point out that the publication of “Go Set a Watchman” constitutes one of the epic money grabs in the modern history of American publishing.

The Ur-fact about Harper Lee is that after publishing her beloved novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” in 1960, she not only never published another book; for most of that time she insisted she never would. Until now, that is, when she’s 89, a frail, hearing- and sight-impaired stroke victim
living in a nursing home. Perhaps just as important, her sister Alice, Lee’s longtime protector, passed away last November. Her new protector, Tonja Carter, who had worked in Alice Lee’s law office, is the one who brought the “new novel” to HarperCollins’s attention, claiming, conveniently, to have found it shortly before Alice died.

If you have been following The Times’s cleareyed coverage, you know that Carter participated in a meeting in 2011 with a Sotheby’s specialist and Lee’s former agent, in which they came across the manuscript that turned out to be “Go Set a Watchman.” In The Wall Street Journal — where else? — Carter put forth the preposterous claim that she walked out of that meeting early on and never returned, thus sticking with her story that she only discovered the manuscript in 2014.

But the others in the meeting insisted to The Times that she was there the whole time — and saw what they saw: the original manuscript that Lee turned in to Tay Hohoff, her editor. Hohoff, who appears to have been a very fine editor indeed, encouraged her to take a different tack. After much rewriting, Lee emerged with her classic novel of race relations in a small Southern town. Thus, The Times’s account suggests an alternate scenario: that Carter had been sitting on the discovery of the manuscript since 2011, waiting for the moment when she, not Alice, would be in charge of Harper Lee’s affairs.

That’s issue No. 1. Issue No. 2 is the question of whether “Go Set a Watchman” is, in fact, a “newly discovered” novel, worthy of the hoopla it has received, or whether it something less than that: a historical artifact or, more bluntly, a not-very-good first draft that eventually became, with a lot of hard work and smart editing, an American classic.

The Murdoch empire is insisting on the former, of course; that’s what you do when you’re hoping to sell millions of books in an effort to boost the bottom line.

But again, an alternative scenario suggests itself. Lee has said that she wanted to write a “race novel.” Though her first effort had some fine writing, like many first-time novelists she also made a lot of beginners’ mistakes: scenes that don’t always add up, speeches instead of dialogue, and so on. So she took a character who was a racist in the first draft and turned him into the saintly lawyer Atticus Finch who stands up to his town’s bigotry in defending a black man. He becomes the hero of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” (Which is also why it’s silly to view the Atticus Finch of “Go Set a Watchman” as the same person as the Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” as many commentators have done. Atticus is a fictional character, not a real person.) Lee still wound up with a race novel, which was her goal. But a different and much
better one.

In one of her last interviews, conducted in 1964, Lee said: “I think the thing that I most deplore about American writing … is a lack of craftsmanship. It comes right down to this — the lack of absolute love for language, the lack of sitting down and working a good idea into a gem
of an idea.”

A publisher that cared about Harper Lee’s legacy would have taken those words to heart, and declined to publish “Go Set a Watchman,” the good idea that Lee eventually transformed into a gem. That HarperCollins decided instead to manufacture a phony literary event isn’t surprising.
It’s just sad.
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