Wednesday, February 4, 2015

New Harper Lee Novel

Really exciting news today from the world of American literature. Harper Lee, who never published anything besides the classic "To Kill a Mockingbird", is coming out with a "sequel". The back story here is amazing.

She wrote a novel in the 1950's, entitled "Go Set a Watchman", featuring Scout as an adult. Her editor's response was to say that he/she liked the flashbacks to Scout as a young child, and maybe Ms. Lee should write another novel about that, which she did.

She says she thought the original manuscript was lost, but her friend and lawyer recently discovered it among her papers, and now it is to be published!! Amazing. And amazing that Harper is even still alive, but she is, at 88, though impaired.

These stories of writers who only write one book and nothing more fascinate me. One thinks, of course, of J. D. Salinger and "A Catcher in the Rye". When I was living in Lawrence, Kansas,  in the early '70's, some of us counter-culture types were quite taken with Frederick Exley's great book, "A Fan's Notes", and we eagerly awaited his sequel, "Pages from a Cold Island". However, the sequel was a complete bust. Exley had said all he had to say in his first novel; and, in retrospect, it was really only in the first half of that novel, as the part after he underwent his electric shock treatments is not nearly as engrossing as the first part of the book.