agent said something to the tune of: “Up to this problem the book’s great. Take it home and fix it. Don’t make a brilliant story founder with so weak an ending.” In a way, this baby, Watchman, should never have been published. Still, I’m glad I read it. Most of this first draft, although nearly stillborn, reveals a writer with an ear as well as a pen. As Ms. Lee wrote near the end of the troublesome problem, exasperated by her Uncle Jack, Jean Louise told herself, “He’s so far out of this century he can’t go to the bathroom, he goes to the water closet.” If that’s not a smart and original combination of humor and bitterness, I don’t know what is. Only a very good writer could come up with such a frustrated dismissal. If you feel like I did, try not to crawl back into your reluctance to read a book that may diminish your love for To Kill a Mockingbird. It won’t. It’s surprisingly an effort that was worth laboring on for several years to improve her brilliant triumph from the early idea to its classic form. I’m glad I read Go Set a Watchman, and hope you will too.
Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch Jem before bedtime, not children’s books, but whatever he was reading at the time ~ lawyers’ briefs, current cases he was arguing, issues in the state house when he was in the legislature. They went to court when he was the first and only lawyer in the county to defend a black man that Atticus knew was innocent of raping a white girl. An all-white jury found him guilty anyway. She remembered how she and Jem were attacked by the white girl’s father on Halloween night and Boo Radley saved their lives. Wisely, Ms. Lee saved some wonderful sections in her re-write for Mockingbird. But how did the author deal with Jean Louise’s bitter shock of finding her worshiped dad in the company she called trash? That’s where my admiration of the book slacked. I’d bet that it’s the same section that her
Anne Stinson began her career in the 1950s as a freelancer for the now defunct Baltimore News-American, then later for Chesapeake Publishing, the Baltimore Sun and Maryland Public Television’s panel show, Maryland Newsrap. 78
Tidewater Times September 2015