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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.

Why?

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!

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24 Comments Post a comment
  1. Can’t wait to hear what you have to say about this book. I’m on the fence about whether to read it. Mockingbird is one of my all time favorites, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    July 16, 2015
  2. Reblogged this on Routine Matters.

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    July 16, 2015
  3. Good luck! It seems to have divided opinion quite strongly. My own views were pretty mixed but I found it helpful not to focus too much on it supposedly being a sequel.

    Liked by 1 person

    July 16, 2015
  4. I just finished this last night and I’m trying to collect my thoughts before I review it. I’m interested in hearing what you think after you read it.

    Like

    July 16, 2015
  5. sammano #

    Godspeed. I just can’t do it. Sometimes it is best to leave the memories alone.

    Liked by 2 people

    July 16, 2015
  6. I’m torn. I’m glad you get a brief reprieve, but shame on you for buying into all the hype! (Jokingly of course.) I haven’t really made any plans to read this, as TKaM didn’t leave as much of an impact on me as it did with a lot of people. I’m definitely interested in seeing what you have to say of course.

    Liked by 1 person

    July 16, 2015
  7. My favorite book is TKAM and my brother-in-law sent me this ebook as a gift the day it was released. I read it in one sitting and it made me sad. I believe that Miss Lee and her publishers had no intention of releasing it after TKAM because it is not a sequel – it is a draft of a novel that was changed immensely – both in terms of plot and the characters – and became TKAM. That said, I have been struggling with whether I would think this is a good book if I had read it without the prism of TKAM over it. Aspects of the writing are weak – as a draft it clearly needed more editing before publication so no disrespect to Miss Lee – but given the recent Supreme Court gay marriage case and the political divide in the US some themes are very current (although the manifestation overwrought). Oddly, it struck me as a much more “Southern” book than TKAM. I eagerly await your take on it.

    Liked by 2 people

    July 16, 2015
  8. Reblogged this on oshriradhekrishnabole.

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    July 16, 2015
  9. Jasmin #

    TKAM is one of my favorite books. I’m in high school and my class just read it last fall. I’m eagerly awaiting the sequel to arrive at my doorstep (any minute now). I can’t wait to read it and see what you have to say. I was pretty shocked that Atticus became a racist bigot in GSAW. Now, I’m a little wary of the sequel since Atticus is basically the best father and hero in literature. At least, he’s the best father and hero I’ve encountered so far. It would be saddening to see such a great character transform this way.
    Can’t wait for the review! I hope you enjoy it.

    Like

    July 16, 2015
  10. I’m so worried for anyone who reads this–worried that it’s going to destroy the first book for you. This “new” Lee novel was a draft for Mockingbird. In my opinion, the publication of a draft that many publishers rejected, causing Lee to revise it into Mockingbird, is a huge money grab.

    Liked by 1 person

    July 16, 2015
    • I think you have to read it as a separate book, almost as an alternate universe for these characters as I mentioned.

      Liked by 1 person

      July 16, 2015
  11. I can’t to read your comment on this book…and read too…

    Like

    July 16, 2015
  12. carolinesofiyaa #

    I’m honestly so torn about whether I should read it. To Kill A Mockingbird is also one of my favorites, and all of the controversy around Go Set A Watchmen makes me really skeptical about it. I’m looking forward to seeing what you have to say about it!

    Like

    July 16, 2015
  13. I just posted a review for GSAW myself and I have to say, I loved the book. I know the controversy that’s been going on a while about it but I honestly didn’t bother reading any reviews before reading it myself. Just like you, I didn’t see this book as a sequel but rather like a standalone or maybe even a prequel to TKAM. Because of that, I didn’t react as forcefully as some readers did. I mean, yes I was disappointed in Atticus but hell, we all knew that Scout was idolizing him in TKAM and I didn’t expect Atticus to be a saint through all his life. Anyways, I thought it was a very raw and brutal coming of age story into a changing world. I would have liked a book in Atticus’ POV but I guess we’re lucky we even got this. Enjoy!

    Like

    July 16, 2015
  14. In a way I wish I had read this the day it came out, before all these rumours and stories began floating around, because now I’m on the fence and I wish that were not the case. I am definitely curious to know your thoughts on the book and to read your reactions. I just re-read TKAM in April of this year, so I think I’m going to need to wait a while to be able to properly separate the two in my mind and read GSAW as an entirely separate book. Happy reading!
    xx

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    July 16, 2015
  15. Am interested in your insights. I haven’t read it and I probably am not going. If Atticus Finch is a rascist in Go Set a Watchman the way some have said he is, then which Atticus Finch can you trust: the one in To Tell a Mockingbird or the one in Go Set a Watchman? My guess is that Harper Lee would have made major changes in GSAW before she agreed to the publication if she had been in good health. Things like changing the names in GSAW. By the time she was told about the book, it was already a foregone conclusion. I still believe that she would never have published the novel if it was up to her. After all, she had stated years earlier that she was not going to publish another novel.

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    July 17, 2015
  16. I am hesitant to read GSAW, mainly because I predict that my reaction to both novels will tell me more about myself than about Atticus, Harper Lee, or Scout. I am not the same person that I was forty years ago, or fifty years ago when I first read TKAM. I have done good things and also not-so-good things. I have been an idealist and a cynic at times. All-in-all, I plan to read the novel as another example of writing by one of my favorite authors. I’m most interested in the development of Scout as a young, independent woman…not the disappointment I might feel in Atticus. And I hope to learn more about masterful storytelling.

    Liked by 1 person

    July 17, 2015
  17. All the reviews I’ve heard up to this point seem to be very divided– either very positive or negative. Can’t wait to hear what your opinion is on Lee’s new book!

    Like

    July 17, 2015
  18. I haven’t read the just-published book, but like the rest of you, I have heard a lot of discussion about it. From what I can tell, there’s just not as big a difference in Atticus Finch from one book to the other as people think. The younger man was a flaming liberal for the South, at that time. Just saying a man deserved a fair trial whether was white or black set him apart from a lot of his his neighbors. But as I recall (and it’s been years since I read To Kill a Mockingbird), never in that book does Atticus say blacks and whites are equal. He doesn’t support integration. He is for equality under the law but NOT social equality. Put that same man in a different period of history, when black people and their white and other racial allies are pressing for civil rights and he is very likely the Atticus I’ve heard described in Go Set a Watchman.

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    July 18, 2015
  19. I’ve just finished Watchman and it’s taking me a while to gather my thoughts on it, but I think what you’ve said about it being a kind of alternate universe is very true, so I’m looking forward to hearing your opinion once you’ve read it! I’m also about to re-read Mockingbird to see if and how Watchman changes my reading of it… I feel like in some ways it’s going to offer new insights to it, but given the disappointment a lot of people are feeling, it also has the potential diminish Mockingbird and make it easier to pick holes in the book’s moral stance.

    Liked by 2 people

    July 18, 2015
  20. I almost wish I didn’t even know about the new book. I don’t want anything to change my perception of To Kill A Mockingbird.
    Very much on the fence here.

    Like

    July 19, 2015
  21. I’m going to wait a while before I read it, but I’m definitely interested! Looking forward to reading what you think…

    Like

    July 20, 2015

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