There’s a ad on TV that claims that the oldest trees produce the sweetest fruit. I grew up on an orchard, and I know that this is wrong. The oldest trees produce the sourest fruit. At 89, Harper Lee has proved the truth of this in her new book, Go Set a Watchman. In it, one of America’s greatest fictional heroes, Atticus Finch, is portrayed as a segregationist. Worse, the story is set years after the events in To Kill a Mockingbird, suggesting that he has acquired has prejudice as he has grown older and, sadly, less wise.

In To Kill a Mockingbird, Lee says that it’s a sin to kill one. Well, that’s just what she’s done by mistakenly publishing this text, which should certainly have remained in the safety deposit box where it was found.

Since I’m in a wheelchair, I have aides who are with me every day. Most of them are black, some Americans and some from Africa. They are like my extended family.

My husband was raised by a black servant, and often doesn’t even notice if people are black or not. I’ve always admired that about him, and I’m getting to be that way, too.

I think I’ll pass on Go Set a Watchman.

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  1. Agreed, Anne!
    Agreed, Anne!

  2. I believe I read that it was
    I believe I read that it was actually written before “To Kill A Mockingbird”. For what it is worth the article claimed it was an unfinished manuscript.

  3. I totally Agree Anne. What
    I totally Agree Anne. What bothers me is that this new “book” is being published in my opinion solely for money and to damage race relations ie: all whites=evil racists. The character Atticus Finch is a true hero who fought racism and always tried to do the right thing even when it was a very hard thing to do in that day and time.
    In my opinion there is a concerted effort to downplay the role that many white people played in the Civil Rights movement. Atticus Finch fictionally symbolized those people (including my own parents) who stood up against racism and said “this is wrong and this has to change”. Besides this new book, another example of this is last year on the anniversary of the 1964 murder of 3 Civil Rights workers in Mississippi (2 whites, 1 black), the focus was mainly on the black victim James Chaney and not the other two white victims. This is insidious and 20 years ago I never heard racist language coming from anyone white or black. But today, it seems to be OK and even encouraged for people from minority backgrounds to be racist and say bigoted things.
    Enough is enough and everyone should call out people like Al Sharpton as the true racists that they are and not tolerate this evil.

  4. I agree, “Go Skip a
    I agree, “Go Skip a Watchman”. The paragraph where she killed off the brother was when I closed the book. Kill off a character because you cannot write about it … bad idea.

  5. July 20, 2015: What are the
    July 20, 2015: What are the merits of “Go Set a Watchman (GSAW)?” Time will tell. I noticed that in these last few days, African American veterans of the 20th century US civil rights era said they were not surprised by the deeper connections of Atticus Finch with racist elements of the 20th century. Three main things, however, are worth keeping in mind: 1) The GSAW portrait of Atticus presents nuanced explanations for his connections with those racist elements. 2) In my view, as a writer myself, Harper Lee is incapable of writing a bad novel. 3) Not that many years ago, US President Obama said that a national US conversation on race is overdue. That’s the bad news … the good news is that GSAW provides a powerful springboard for that conversation.

  6. I read an article recently
    I read an article recently that Harper Lee is suffering from dementia, and that it may be her literary agent and/or heirs who are publishing this old manuscript under her name. She may not be responsible for it at all. In any case, I think it’s an interesting view of an author’s process, having tried something and decided it would work better “the other way”, i.e., the way we know the book today. It’s a historical and literary artifact — it should never have been published as its own book. I don’t believe Harper Lee herself would have wanted it published.

  7. Having actually read the book
    Having actually read the book I can say that it’s a fascinating, raw, emotional ‘first draft’. It’s not perfect, but – man – it’s powerful, at times very funny and captivating. Really worth reading, folks. You don’t have to like it, but don’t judge it until you’ve read it from cover to cover.

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