Writing, promotion, tips, and opinion. Pour a cuppa your favorite poison and join in.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Hated Authors, Beloved Books - Harper Lee

This week it’s about controversial authors and their books. Today, the controversy is about the release of a book. Warning, mild spoilers ahead.

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee is sprinkled with similes like confetti after a parade. Sentences like:
“His wit was hatpin sharp.”
Jean Louise—Scout—has returned home. A tomboy who eschewed her femininity to climb trees, wonders at the differences between her home town and the life she has in New York City. Her visit brings back memories...and a revelation.

Go Set a Watchman was a hard book to review. Humorous, well written, it breathes with life. The storyline left me soaring and dropped me just as fast with the strangeness of it. It easily was a five-star review until the story ended so abruptly without much of a resolution. Passions grew, boiled over, and I wondered at the outcome. Then, it simply stopped and was over, as if a hole had opened and the story fell into its depths. It really made no sense that Scout was so totally oblivious of her home town.

Four stars for making me LOL, excellent writing, and a great story...until the last ten pages. Truly Cee Are A Pee after that.

Controversies erupted when news of Harper Lee’s new book was reported. What new book? She always told people she never wanted to publish again after To Kill a Mockingbird. So why now?

According to the news, her sister was lawyer and the
manager of Lee’s accounts. After she died, the author’s new lawyer suddenly found an unpublished manuscript. Cries erupted. Speculations that the author wasn’t in her right mind to authorize publishing Watchman. Some people agreed and said they’d never buy the book.

Others said, wait a second. Harper Lee IS aware and very happy with the results of her new book. A friend of hers is adamant that Lee knows about the publication of Watchman.

Should I read a book that may not be properly released? Since I don’t know the truth, I erred on the side of Want To Read It.

Would you?

* * * *

Huntress aka CD Coffelt, author of The Magic Withheld series 


Janie Junebug said...

I don't have time to read it now. Perhaps I shall in the future. If Nelle Harper Lee is so proud of this book, then why wasn't it published while Alice Lee was alive? I am concerned that the new lawyer will make a fortune from this book.


diedre Knight said...

I would read it, if only for the treat of her prose. However from your review it would seem to have been (intentionally?) left unfinished. Thanks for a thoughtful heads-up! :-)

Huntress said...

@Janie - I wasn't aware of the controversy until after I'd purchased the book. Even so I believe I would have bought it. For every person who believes there is something nefarious going on, there is another who says Lee is fully aware and wholly behind the publication. Without proof, I reckons I'm okay with helping lawyer line her pockets.

@ Diedre - It is absolutely worth it for the prose. And the humor. The hubby wondered what the heck I was reading to make me laugh so hard. I heartily recommend buying it.

Liz A. said...

I heard about the controversy and that kept me away. I don't want to support nefarious business practices. I just wish we knew for sure what's going on.

Angela said...

Yeah, right now you have both sides of the she's-competent-no-she's-not coin. Last I heard, the state of Alabama was getting involved to make sure some form of elder abuse/being taken advantage of wasn't going on. One of the things mentioned was that there was a meeting where this manuscript was mentioned. I believe this meeting took place before Alice died, but I'm not certain. Then, months (a year or so?) later, Lee's attorney claimed she found the manuscript while going through some other papers after Alice died. When this earlier meeting was brought up, the attorney claimed she was at the meeting, but when the manuscript was mentioned, she was out of the room and wasn't aware of the manuscript until she found it. This meeting is one of the major reasons that some people believe the attorney is trying to take advantage. Personally, I'm suspicious of the whole thing, due to how private Harper Lee's been and how Alice constantly protected Harper. It's possible the attorney was out of the room when the manuscript was discussed, but it would seem that everyone involved would have some form of record of what was discussed. However, I am aware that not everything is recorded in all meetings, so I'm on the fence about that. Over all, I don't feel I have enough information to honestly say one way or the other whether the attorney's on the up and up. I am very suspicious of the whole thing. When I take the known facts into consideration (Harper Lee's assertion throughout the years that she would ONLY write ONE book, her intense shunning of publicity and a public life, her sister's zealous protection of her, claims of Harper Lee's competence, the meeting where the manuscript was first brought up, and that all of this happened AFTER Alice's death...), it does cause concern for me. Without knowing exactly how the attorney profits from this, and without knowing what happens to Harper Lee's estate after she dies, it's hard not to wonder about whether dollar signs was the motivation behind this. I want to believe the attorney's heart was in the right place, but with the facts that are known, I can't say for certain that it was. I just hope they're able to get it sorted out and determine whether or not Harper Lee is being taken advantage of. If she is, I also hope appropriate action is taken to put an end to it.

On another note, I've heard Watchman was the original version of TKAM and that the advice of Harper Lee's editor is what changed the story into what we know and love today. Whether that's the reason for your impression of it being incomplete or not, I obviously can't say, but that's my impression of the origins of the manuscript. That it wasn't intended to be a sequel, but it was the original manuscript submitted.

And of course, please take this all with a grain of salt, because this is only what I've heard so far.