Next Up: Go Set A Watchman
Wait a minute…what?
Yes, that’s Harper Lee’s newest novel released two days ago.
No, it’s obviously not on the list of All-Time novels released in 2005.
Yes, I’ll be temporarily pushing the pause button on reading the Time list to focus on Go Set a Watchman.
To Kill A Mockingbird is, arguably, the greatest novel ever written–certainly it’s one of the top few novels written in the 20th century. It’s my second favorite novel behind only Gatsby.
The “discovery” of this second manuscript earlier this year was news to everyone. For years, we all wondered why Harper Lee never wrote another novel.
Had she burned out after only one novel? Was all her creative energy gone? Were the rumors that Truman Capote actually wrote Mockingbird true?
Well, now, we know all those thoughts were false.
Harper Lee actually wrote Go Set a Watchman before To Kill A Mockingbird. It’s been characterized as a sequel–and I guess it is–but it was originally the first draft of TKAM.
Lee’s editor–inspired by Lee’s obvious talent–worked with her over the course of several years to transform Watchman into what eventually became Mockingbird.
So is Watchman really a sequel? Or is it more like an alternate universe? A story with characters never fully realized until a later draft? In reality, the book was never intended to be a sequel.
Obviously, the major surprise here–and this is no spoiler since it’s been all over the internet–is that Atticus Finch, in his 70s, is a bigoted old man. Will that transformation–from progressive liberal lawyer to nearly-retired, bitter racist even make sense?
I guess I’ll find out.
I’ll treat Go Set a Watchman just like any other. I’ll read and post about it just as if it had appeared on the list. When I’m finished with the review, hopefully in a couple of weeks, I’ll resume the Time list with Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie. More on that novel later.
For now, let’s read Go Set a Watchman!