Mockingbird

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To Kill a Mockingbird has always been one of my favorite books. I read it first in school, and then at least twice more over the years. A year or so ago I suggested to a few friends that it might be fun to re-read it again and form an ad hoc book club to eat unhealthy snacks and talk about it. But with uber-busy schedules the norm these days, I got no takers.

So now—motivated by the announcement that a second book by Harper Lee starring the same characters will soon be released—I am moving my book club proposal online. Let’s read and then discuss the books—both books—right here on my blog.

I’ll get to details in a moment but I gotta say something else first. If I may be so bold as to mention myself in the same breath as a literary legend, I want to say that as a fellow writer I am concerned for Nell Harper Lee. Her closest friends and relatives have denied rumors that she is no longer cognitively competent to make the decision to release this book, so that’s not my worry. I just hope critics are kind to her this time around.

The new book, Go Set a Watchman, was written before Mockingbird, but perhaps will function as a sequel since the story is told from the perspective of the adult Jean Louise Finch, aka “Scout.” Apparently her editors favored the portions of this manuscript that flashbacked to childhood, so they urged her to write a book told from the young girl’s point of view—and thus To Kill a Mockingbird was born.

Of course I hope the new book will be a brilliant stand-alone story, but I suspect there will be over-lap between the two. Also I’m hoping it will give us some insight into Miss Lee’s creative process as she wrote both books.

So whether Go Set a Watchman is a prequel or a sequel, I’m sure I’ll enjoy it more if Mockingbird is fresh in my mind. So please join me: let’s re-read it together!

I’m going to start re-reading To Kill a Mockingbird tonight. I’m adding a special page to my blog (please note the heading “Mockingbird” above). I’m inviting anybody and everybody to click there and leave comments. And hey—no need to wait till you finish reading the entire book before you post. Read the first paragraph and leave a post! Let’s share as we read. It’ll be fun!

Now you are welcome to post the most scholarly-American Lit-teacher-type comments that you want. But I would love it if everybody out there would just tell us what he or she likes: a memorable scene, a lovely description or metaphor, a funny bit of dialogue: that’s what I’d love to hear about.

 And if there’s anybody out there who wasn’t forced to read Mockingbird in high school: sorry, but spoilers are allowed. Know that this is one of the most powerful books in American literature, and the energy is in the journey. This book isn’t a commercial mystery or thriller. Even if you know what’s going to happen, it’s still worth the ride. So let’s get started! Crack open that book and here we go: “When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow. . .”

7 responses to “Mockingbird

  1. It’s been decades since I read “To Kill A Mockingbird”. I look forward to revisiting the characters to see how I relate to them now!
    Glad you’re inviting us all to experience again this world that Harper Lee invented.

  2. I’ve really been enjoying a re-read of the book. There are so many things I’d forgotten! On the flip side there are a few episodes so vivid that I was sure they were included in the movie, but when I watched it again a few weeks ago I discovered I was wrong. Two things: Jem reading to the elderly woman who wanted to kick her morphine habit before she died; and the conversation Dill and Scout have outside the court house with the scandalous man who drank morning, noon and night from a bottle hidden in a brown paper bag!

  3. Saw the movie sooooooo long ago–might get it from Netflix for a fresh rerun! I know it’s still topical, sad to say.

  4. I saw the movie first, then read the book..over 50 years ago! This was one time I was not been disappointed by the book after seeing the movie. Gregory Peck WAS Atticus Finch. In fact, all the casting was spot on. I look forward to reading and seeing Mockingbird again.

  5. I just finished re-reading the book about a half hour ago. The ending still makes me tear up; I love it so much.

  6. Came home tonight to find that one of our TV stations was playing the movie “To Kill A Mockingbird”. Seeing the movie again has whetted my appetite for reading the novel. The actors seemed perfect for the roles. The cinematography was amazing. Does anyone know what Harper Lee’s reaction was to the movie? At this point I’m only to chapter 4 of the book. I’m anxious to see what the director was able to keep of the original writing.

  7. shirley finster

    I am looking forward to Harper’s second book too. If I remember correctly, it is a prequel. If it had come ut soner- Gregory Peck could have played his younger self. They couldn’t have picked a better guy or the role!
    I am looking forward to your book, Nancy, and have 10/1/15 marked on the calendar!

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