At 12:30 p.m. last night, I finished reading Harper Lee‘s Go Set A Watchman. It’s 277 pages and I bought the book Tuesday morning at 9:15 a.m.
There was a period of time Tuesday when I thought about how I wanted to Go Set It Aside, but the story compelled me to keep going.
At one point Tuesday I thought it should have been titled, “Besmirching the character of a character.”
But I endeavored on.
HarperCollins, the publishing company, did a poor job of editing this book. There is just no other way to put it. From misspelling Judgment Day by adding an extra letter E on Page 65, to the absolutely ridiculous changes from first to second to third person interchangeably, worst on Page 120, to beginning the second paragraph on Page 170 with a lower-cased letter L, I do not for the life of my understand how these things would have made it past a half-dozen red pens at the publishing house. Italics would have been nice when we jumped into Scout’s head in first person from the previous sentence being in third. Or in second (think of listening to the world’s worst quarterback Tony Romo trying to talk sense … you, you, when you…)
A friend of mine says there’s no way Harper Lee would have penned the sentence atop Page 24 where Scout is studying her beau Henry and says to herself, “I never tire of watching him move, she thought.” No, said my friend, “That’s a line out of Thelma and Louise, but the only way to know if Harper Lee wrote that would be to go visit her in the nursing home and ask. It’s clear she wasn’t involved in editing this book.”
Which leads me to the theory that that is what happened. Harper Lee wasn’t involved in editing this book. Maybe I’ve just not dug deep enough online, but it appears they took this unfinished work of Harper Lee’s and published it like an archaeologist would leave a find in situ–undisturbed, as they found it….
One of my most valued writing mentors told me she was going to pass on Go Set A Watchman and not read it in order to not damage her perspective of Atticus Finch and “Keep my childhood intact.”
Another writing colleague has said she will juxtapose Go Set A Watchman with To Kill A Mockingbird and use them as examples of GREAT writing and not as much.
Go Set A Watchman is worth reading. In many ways the scenario penned in this story is still being dealt with today and applied to more issues than just relations between white and black foke. Maybe that’s what some of the foke who are reading it are getting upset about. It’s been a bitter summer in 2015 for many across the land and in many of the same ways, the liberal Yankee media they complain about in the book and the Supreme Court still don’t have a clue as to the mindset of most Southerners and probably never will. What happens because of that eventually is going to get far uglier than what we have seen already. For every action there’s a reaction and the pressure cooker’s steam seems to be rising.
A Writer’s Declaration
After reading Go Set A Watchman, I now declare that if after I have died or have been struck down by a debilitating stroke and my daughters, loved one, or my agent or someone else goes through my drawers of umpteen notecards, notebooks of drafted manuscripts yet unpublished, or finds files on my computers they think the world should be privy to, they CANNOT release them unless they have been well-edited. And by that I mean no style errors, no head-hopping, no changing tenses on one page without logical breaks in between. No, nothing that would make people be as frustrated as I was Tuesday afternoon trying to figure out what in the Hell Harper Lee was trying to share with us in her book. Got it?