Go Set A Watchman

Jul 16, 2015 by

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…) GSAW Pic

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.

Worth Reading

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?


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The Dangers of the Content Paywall

Mar 8, 2011 by

The Pulitzer Prize gold medal award

Image via Wikipedia

It’s no secret the newspaper industry has been hanging from a thread the past few years thanks to the emergence of the Internet, a never-ending cycle of news and the rise of the blog and “citizen journalism.”

We’ve known many a reporter here in Dallas who used to work for The Dallas Morning News, which has made the jump to having a “paywall,” where a non-subscriber pays an arm and a leg a month for access of “privileged content.”

Newspapers and other print publications, after all, say that to stay in business, to keep professional staff aboard, cover the costs of lost revenues from advertisements in their print publications and the dramatic reduced cost for ads online, they have to make money some way.  In the case of TDMN, non-subscribers to the paper will be able to read headlines, blogs, obituaries, classifieds and any syndicated content for free, but local news will be blocked.

The Dangers of the Content Paywall

We’ve recently heard how The Dallas Morning News has brought certain ringers into town with the sole purpose of 1) winning a Pulitzer Prize, and 2) for digging so agonizingly deep into the recesses of public and private information so that they can in fact, add content to their site to substantiate your paying a whopping sum for such.  Just thinking that’s even a sustainable model is ridiculous, but such is how it’s apparently going over at TDMN in certain departments.

And there in lies the danger in the whole notion of paying for content. Here is a publication with a storied reputation now performing on a somewhat National Enquirer type level to make sure it has the dirt that no one else does so that you can feel justified in paying a whopping sum each month to read it.  Now one can argue this is how the news business always has been and why so many have this overriding distrust of the media, but we’re hearing how senior management at TDMN has taken this to a whole new level.

Paywall Fees

According to Gigaom.com, “a subscription to the print TDMN and all of the Dallas publisher’s digital content (which includes an iPad app) is $33.95 a month, and an online-only subscription is $16.95 a month. By comparison, Rupert Murdoch’s new iPad app The Daily costs $3.96 a month or $39.99 for a year.”

Seriously.  We quit buying TDMN daily when the price of the print paper went from $.50 per day to $1.00.  Instead we now read every now and then on DallasNews.com.  If we needed to find out anything local, we’d turn on talk radio or check in on the TV news at the end of the day.  Jim Moroney, there’s no way we’re going to pay $33.95 a month for the print addition and online content, nor $16.95 per month for the digital version.   And yes, we realize that still works out to $1.oo per day or $.50 cents a day depending on which way one goes, but quite frankly, when you can down load and read the latest top novel of 178-plus pages for between $9.99 and $12.99, it just feels wrong to pay that much for a limited amount of local content. And if you break down the $33.95 per month that means one’s getting the print addition for $.50 cents again and the online version for the other $.50 cents a day.   How is that possibly a sustainable model?

Survival of the Newsroom

We understand the need for the paper to be able to pay its employees.  We’ve long thought that the salaries paid to newspaper reporters were bad enough.  A paywall seems the surest way to expedite the folding of these once mammoth news organizations.  And that’s a shame, too, because that also means words like “accuracy” and “in depth reporting” start to have totally new meaning, especially when those who have survived the cuts in the newsroom now are responsible for getting blood out of news turnups so that it won’t wind up in the free-content side.

Recalculate the demise of the nation’s newspapers.  Paywall is not going to save them and if having a paywall has the intended consequence of the paper unleashing such investigations of others, then we’re all the more for it.

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