I’ve just been blown away by the news that I’ve just heard, and I am usually the most calmest of Jackdaws.
To Kill A Mockingbird is my favourite book of all time, and I have long since reconciled myself to the fact that Harper Lee was not going to have any more books published. The frustration of this is up there with the split up of The Beatles, the deaths of John Lennon and Jeff Buckley, and the abandonment of poetry by Arthur Rimbaud at the age of twenty one. Oh, and also my inability to master the guitar.
But now I have heard that there is a new Harper Lee book to be published, the book that she originally wrote in the 1950’s and put aside on the recommendation of her publisher. It seems that this book is set twenty years after Mockingbird, and deals with the adult Scout grappling with personal and political issues on returning to Maycomb after visiting her father, Atticus, (that long-held ideal of fatherhood) in New York.
Apparently this book, entitled Go Set A Watchman, was written first, but when the publisher was taken with Scout’s childhood flashbacks, he or she persuaded Lee to tell that story instead, and so To Kill A Mockingbird was born. But now, sixty years later, that original manuscript has been discovered, and is being released on July 14th. A sequel to Mockingbird, but written first.
I really don’t know how to feel about this. I have never been so excited about the release of a book in my life, but that excitement is also laced with fear. Fear that, after all this time, that first book will not measure up. That, unexpected though this new book is, it will somehow fall short of a book that has to many, I included, set an impossible standard to follow.
I’m going to read it, of course I am. How could I not? But as that publication date nears, I fear that it is going to scare the hell out of me. I can already hear my wife:
“Get a grip for God’s sake! Get a grip!”
But I have waited for this since I was an awkward sixteen year old in my English Literature class.
Now:Amazon pre-order here I come.
Our marriage is going to be sorely tested.