I agree! Don’t Do It, Harper Lee

by Rachel Baker on February 6, 2015

I have been watching the last couple of days the reaction to the news that Harper Lee has a new book coming out. I’m actually pretty stunned at what I’m seeing. How can a book be number 1 on Amazon and it hasn’t even been read? How can people think the book is going to be as good as “To Kill a Mockingbird”?

For the love of all things holy, NO ONE who has pre-ordered this book driving it to number 1 is a teenager anymore. They see the world through different eyes – not only are they not teenagers, but its not even the same decade as when they fell in love with “To Kill a Mockingbird”. The world has moved on, in some ways for the better, in others ways for the worse. We are into the fifth decade since the book came out – and while the story of the book is still somewhat relavent and the politics are still the same, but also very different. People’s individual politics are very diffferent from when they first read the book.

Most importantly, the way we critique books and literature is INCREDIBLY different than it used to be. Let’s think about this: “Go Set a Watchman” was written before “To Kill a Mockingbird”. Here’s what I see – Harper Lee wrote a book about a girl and her view of her father. Lee needed a reason why the girl would view her father as the moral compass of her home town…and thus, “To Kill a Mockingbird” was conceived. It is said “Go Set a Watchman” deals with Scout’s political views and society…again, the writer’s backdrop was the 1950s. So, its only logical to believe and think we won’t really be able to truly relate to adult Scout.

And maybe I’m wrong; but I’m not holding my breath that this book will be as great as “To Kill a Mockingbird”…not in the least, and for all the reasons I said above. I’m incredibly saddened that Harper Lee is allowing this, and frankly, I’m also a bit skeptical of her involvement in this decision. This publication will be incredibly successful financially, but I’m not sure it will be critically successful. And for that, I am saddened for the Harper Lee brand/reputation.

Here’s the Inspiring Link/Article: Don’t Do It, Harper Lee

The form the literary conversation takes has changed drastically since the initial publication of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” in 1960, when professional critics led the public discussion and private assessments were confined to classrooms and parlors. Internet culture, where a one-star Goodreads review by a 14-year-old can be as persuasive to some as a book critic’s 1,200-word newspaper essay, has leveled the field.

We are, after all, in the age of the hot take, the contrarian opinion and obsessive fan culture, in which celebrated work belongs solely to the rabid enthusiasts, not its creator. I’ve worked as a literary critic, mostly online, for 13 years, and the only time I feared for my life was when I blogged that the Harry Potter books were terrible. (“Literati? Try Litersnotty!” was my favorite response.)

This article was written by: Rachel Baker – Click to follow on Twitter.

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