Remember it’s a sin to kill a classic book


Readers and writers alike share a common appreciation for literature, and yet while writers are the ones that control the book, the actions, the conflicts and consequential resolution, they are not the ones that control whether that book is bought or sold. They have no say in how many copies willbe sold, no say if the book will immediately be published. It verywell may be that the book will be denied publication by publishers and will have to go through major revisions to even see the worn bookshelf of its beloved reader.

Harper Lee is no stranger to this predicament. She wrote a book about the South, and it was rejected by publishers. She was sent back to revise her carefully cultivated novel and in return we received “To Kill a Mockingbird”, a book many have read and grown to love or retain as a distant memory from school. Nonetheless, it holds a place in many hearts and remains wedged in many more minds. Therefore, the name Harper Lee stays in our minds as well.

It seems that despite Lee’s age and ailing mind, she has wanted to publish her original story, “Go Set a Watchman”, or so that is what readers are ledto believe. Lee — who is now living in assisted living as she is 89 with Alzheimer’s — lost her sister, who was her primary caretaker, and now her assets are at the disposal of her lawyer.

Miraculously, under this new authority, this book has been discovered and published; but at what cost? It is not a sequel as so many think it to be, and not even a prequel but rather another version. It destroys the image we have from reading “To Kill a Mockingbird” because it was never meant to be associated with the title in the first place. Many of Lee’s fans have abstained from buying “Go Set a Watchman” because they’d rather remember the characters the way they were represented 53 years ago.

Atticus is a member of the Ku Klux Klan, a racist member of society who supports segregation, the same man who defended a black man in a time and place where racism was to the point of normality. But then again, these books seem to reference parallel universes.

There is no simple solution to this issue, the book is literally an earlier draft. What do you do with first drafts? You discard them.

The book should have been kept from the public.

One key issue regarding the book is also that the quality is not amazing. It is clichéd because it was written so long ago. The situations have become clichéd since then and while it may have been a story no one wanted to publish at the time, racism has been addressed and addressed again. The only reason the story was so widely publicized and bought was because of the name attached to it, as if Harper Lee has been reduced to a brand name rather than a person.

Another issue is the motivation of the lawyer in charge of her assets. What was Tonja Carter’s reasoning for wanting to pull the obscure novel — out of its safe deposit box — without ensuring it was known that it was not actually a sequel? Why has her story regarding the discovery of the novel been changed so many times? Lee could very well be a victim of coercion with little to dispute it besides the word of her lawyer considering there is limited access to her.

On all parts the publication was a bad decision, much like the way Disney Channel mass produces low quality plots for shows because they’ll make money as long as their name is attached to it. If Harper Lee honestly agreed to her story being published, why now? She had stated before that she could hope for nothing more than the success “To Kill a Mockingbird” was, what made her change her mind now? The book didn’t do any harm to anyone, who felt the need to kill it?