Harper Lee’s “new” Novel: Mayhem or Must-Read??

Harper Lee’s “new” Novel: Mayhem or Must-Read??

So “Go Set A Watchman,” has just appeared on the horizon, and already the media are going nuts. It’s some kind of terrible plot, shout some, intended to [gasp!] make money for publishers. NO, says the publisher, Harper Lee is fine with it, and it’ll be great. And methinks they’re just tuning up for a full philharmonic atonal blast.

Harper Lee's "new" Novel: Mayhem or Must-Read??
Harper Lee swings Mary Badham, who played Scout in the movie of TKAM

Hmmmm. No doubt this IS “exploitive,” in the sense that it’s intended to sell books and make money.  And yet Something says to me, “Hold on a minute.”
After all — book publishers wanting to make profits? Hello– is this a new idea for anybody here??
And next, from repeated earlier reports, it seems close to clear
that Harper Lee herself is pretty deep into the last lap; cocooned in her old age and steep decline: described by some as non communicative, with at least short term memory all but gone, doesn’t travel, doesn’t do interviews. The Birmingham News, which runs the best news site in Alabama, just reinforced this impression with a visit. But their story also confirms that the lawyer who handled the deal had legal authority to do so. And eminent Alabama historian Wayne Flynt says he talked to her this week, and she’s lucid and it’s fine.

In short, whatever this new book turns out to be, surely Lady Harper is unlikely to be besieged by the press buzzards shouting questions over each other and poking microphones in her face and giving her sunburn with their camera heat lamps.

Harper Lee's "new" Novel: Mayhem or Must-Read??
Here it is. She can afford it — maybe she owns it.

That is, she won’t if her facility’s staff is at least minimally competent & professional, which it dam sure better be because she’s not exactly some abandoned indigent. (The Birmingham News reporter couldn’t get near the front door.) And from the outside, the place looks small but tidy and relatively new. Besides, Harper Lee could afford to own the whole dam place if she wanted to.

So if the media sharks are kept at bay, I’m wondering how much damage can be done here? She has no children, and at 88 has surely outlived most of her peers, so they’re safe from embarrassment. (Embarrassment? From a likely G-rated story about Scout set in the 1970s??)
No doubt the book will make oodles of cash, but does Lee want or need it? Will she even know about it? Surely her place in The American authors’ pantheon is secure enough that even if this coming tome should be the rankest forgery it shan’t dislodge her from there, or from our hearts.

Such shameless exploitation of recently deceased literary lions is not exactly a new depth in the descent of the pub biz. after all, how many More “novels” will they yet collate between covers from the Hemingway slush pile?

Or couldn’t Margaret Mitchell well be dubbed the Giving Ghost of Atlanta, who wanders Peachtree Street at night, with Gone With The Wind sequel/prequel/nyquil ghostwriters trailing pathetically in her wake?

And how many years ago did Ian Fleming die?



Or L. Frank Baum??

Not Making This Up. It’s a real book.

Not to mention the mountain of Sherlock Holmes knockoffs; and who knows but what Conan Doyle, that diehard spiritualist, may be dictating many of them via automatic writing.

Then there’s Jane Austen & Zombies. Naturally.

Austen-Zombie-KillerNot Kidding about this one either . . .

Harper Lee’s “new” Novel: Mayhem or Must-Read??

I don’t yet know. Maybe I’ll look at Go Set A Watchman, and maybe not. But pending some more definite negative news, I’m much inclined to think that the one person safest from all this kerfuffle may well be Harper Lee herself.

Especially if they let her be the Boo Radley (rather than Scout) she recently described herself as: in which case, a book may come out, but she won’t, and no mockingbirds will die.

Still, I’ll keep checking the big knothole in that old tree down the block every time I pass it. Just in case.

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