A great conversation last night at book club about a great author and a controversial book. Personally, I loved being able to revisit Maycomb with Scout. My viewpoint on the novel is that it really was a first draft, which eventually resulted in the final draft of To Kill A Mockingbird, one of my favorite books of all time. Clearly, Lee did not ever consider publishing Watchman while she could stop it from happening. While the resulting novel may be the work of a publisher taking advantage of Miss Lee, there is a lot to learn about character creation and rewriting by reading the work. I think it also has important things to say about the experience of coming of age and that time when we have to break from the values and morals of our parents to create our own. I definitely was guilty of the same thing Scout was guilty of--putting Atticus on a pedestal and making him the moral compass of the Deep South. He shows us in this book that he is just a man, trying to exist and create a career under difficult circumstances. We don't agree with all of his viewpoints in this novel, and it's ok. I think Uncle Jack also has important insights into the Civil War and the Southern soldier which speak directly to the Confederate flag controversy of late. Harper Lee was certainly an author ahead of her time, and I for one am grateful for this intimate look inside of her work.
On a related note, that's me with "Scout Finch" at the NCTE convention (I hate flying, which is why I look like death warmed over!)