Let’s start with a spoiler-free version of my review of Go Set A Watchman.
This is a well-written novel that certainly reflects the style of Harper Lee. So many of the seeds that bloomed into To Kill A Mockingbird are evident throughout the novel. However, the story itself is lacking—cliched, uninspired and, leaving behind what you already know about Atticus Finch and the main characters, predictable.
It’s a good “first go” at a novel—one that was astutely nurtured by Lee’s editor into what eventually became TKAM. But, honestly, we should never have seen this book. As excited as I was when Watchman was first announced, I’ve slowly become a bit sad about the whole ordeal.
Watchman is an academic curiosity, certainly not a sequel to one of the most endearing novels ever written. The novel has its bright spots, but it too often falls into predictable patterns with melodramatic plot twists worthy of a profound piano crescendo. Dun, Dun, Duhhhhh.
I typically don’t have a numbered rating with my reviews. But, just for kicks, I’ll give Go Set A Watchman a 5 out of 10.
NOW ON TO THE SPOILER ZONE…
If you ever doubted that Harper Lee could write, if you ever bit on the rumor that, perhaps, Truman Capote had secretly written To Kill A Mockingbird (explaining why Lee never wrote again), then Go Set A Watchman should erase those doubts.
As we’ve talked about before, Lee wrote Watchman years before Mockingbird. It was Lee’s editor who helped turn the Watchman novel into the classic that eventually became To Kill A Mockingbird. So, when you read Go Set A Watchman, you’re actually reading Mockingbird‘s first draft. Fascinating, isn’t it?
Lee’s editor, Tay Hohoff, saw something in Lee. She realized the type of writing Harper Lee was capable of, and she helped draw that out of her.
If you’re familiar with Watchman‘s story, then you know it’s rather controversial. Atticus Finch has become a racist old man. Scout, who has recently returned to Maycomb from New York City, is shocked to find Atticus and her boyfriend, Hank Clinton, at an organized “we hate black people” meeting at the courthouse.
Jean Louise (Scout) is stunned. Read more
Here are just a few of my thoughts about what I’ve read so far. Read more
The recent release of Go Set A Watchman is an interesting case study in the development of a classic novel.
With the novel’s publication last week, the New York Times published an interesting behind-the-scenes look at the process that transformed Go Set A Watchman into To Kill A Mockingbird several years later. Read more
I’ve already explained my rankings for the first 80 novels to you, but today I want to hand out a few awards to the novels that have left a mark on me, for better or worse.
Here’s how I break down the good and the bad from the first 80: Read more
Hold me. That’s all I can say. I’m absolutely giddy about this.
Here’s a quick summary from the Associated Press: Read more
Let’s have a little fun with Google Translate again.
We tried this a few months ago with mild success, so I thought I’d give it another go.
Basically, I just take famous passages from literature, then kick them through a gauntlet of 5 to 10 languages and spit them back out in English. Then we see what we’ve got.
Sometimes it’s funny. Sometimes it’s weird. Sometimes it’s fairly similar to the original.
And off we go: Read more