Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Go Set A Watchman

Spending as much time as I do working with writers;
fleshing out themes, crystallizing voices, refining plot
makes it evident to me that Go Set A Watchman is a first draft from a first time novelist.
Regarding it as such gives amazing insight into the process of writing,
and a rare glimpse into the evolution of a modern American classic.
For two and a half years Lee worked closely with her editor, Tay Hohoff
who described the manuscript as "more a series of anecdotes than a fully conceived novel.”
The seeds for Mockingbird are definitely planted in these pages;
the summertime shenanigans of a little girl with her brother and best friend,
her idolatry of her father,
and an honorable southern lawyer defending a black man.
But the book (because it is a first draft) is preachy, inconsistent, and lacking shape.
Unfortunately, one will never know if Lee revisited these characters 20 years later
what adjustments she would have made to the characters.
The bones of a coming of age story are there:
during the civil rights movement, a 26 year old visits her small southern town
after living in Manhattan for several years
and views the people she loves through a different lens. 
But Got Set A Watchman was never revised or edited to the standards of Mockingbird.
Truthfully, this book never should have been published.
It's a first draft that the author never wanted printed.
It is well known that the success of To Kill a Mockingbird
had a devastating impact on her.  
In her last interview in 1964 she said,
"It was like being hit over the head and knocked cold." 
She tried to write again, but struggled, and through out her life when she was still lucid
was consistently adamant that she would never publish another book.
Although still alive, Lee can no longer see or hear, nor is she of sound mind.
As soon as her protective sister died,
Harper Collins strategically maneuvered the release of Watchman
Capitalistic greed trumped integrity and drove them to print something they had no business printing.

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