Will You Read Harper Lee’s ‘Go Set A Watchman?’
Harper Lee's highly anticipated second novel, Go Set A Watchman, hit stores today. Hundreds of thousands of copies are being sold worldwide, but I can't make a decision: should I read this novel?
Nell Harper Lee wrote Watchman back in 1957, three years before To Kill A Mockingbird. I'm not going to give away any spoilers about Watchman; (if you want to know, you can Google it) however, I will note that it is about the iconic cast of Mockingbird characters: Scout, Jim, and Atticus Finch.
People are already up in arms about Atticus in Watchman. Again, not going into this one any further--just want you to have an idea of what's happening. I wonder if Watchman was an earlier draft, something she was able to revise and polish into Mockingbird.
I read comments on a New York Times article about Watchman (Why? Why did I read the comments? Never. Read. The. Comments.) and even saw a few idiots trying to say that Watchman is an inherently weaker novel and thus proof that Mockingbird was written by Truman Capote.
I'm not getting into that garbage--because it IS garbage. As a young girl growing up in Alabama, I have always idolized Nell Harper Lee. She was able to take the stark, ugly reality of racism in the south and use it to create a beautiful novel that transcends both time and place.
I am so conflicted. I want to read this new novel, I really do--I just don't know. I can't say that it feels right. Nell Harper Lee was very outspoken for many, many years about her not wanting Go Set A Watchman published. Why is it being published now?
Alice Lee, Nell's older sister and attorney, protected her sister for many years. Why is Watchman being published now, after Alice is gone? I can't help but feel as if people are taking advantage of Nell Harper Lee to make an obscene amount of money. I also get a sick feeling in my stomach when I watch or listen to interviews from agents and publishers telling us emphatically that she's totally fine!
I have a feeling that something's a bit off here, and that feeling turns into guilt when I consider buying a copy of Go Set A Watchman. Then I think about it more, and I begin to feel that painting a picture of Lee as the victim of exploitative elder abuse robs her of her own agency. She's obviously a brilliant woman and capable of making her own decisions.
I still can't make up my mind.
What do you think? Will you pick up a copy of Go Set A Watchman?