Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Leave Harper Lee Alone

The news that those people around Harper Lee are planning to publish a book in her name is distressing. From all available evidence, Ms. Lee is too infirm to have made a decision to publish anything. People who know her say she is deaf and blind. She resides in an assisted living facility.  Are we supposed to believe that she made the conscious decision to publish this new book? Why would she do so now? She could have done it at any time during the past half-century.  According to one report, she gave an interview some years back on the issue of why she had never published another book. She gave an answer that I think really resonates with all writers: "I have said what I wanted to say and I will not say it again." To me, at least, that has a real ring of truth to it.
Somewhere along the line, as I was writing all those words and stories that became novels, something popped into my brain. It was a sentence and I knew right then, that it was the last thing I would ever write.  When Home comes out, you will see that this sentence does, indeed, end that book and my writing career.   Occasionally, people will ask why I have not written any more novels. I think Harper Lee put it better than I ever could: "I said what I wanted to say and I won't say it again."

I really object to whomever is doing this to her. The new novel is essentially a first draft of her beloved To Kill A Mockingbird.  It is little exaggeration to say that Boo and Scout and Atticus are central figures in American letters.  As it stands now, they are preserved forever just the way Lee wanted them.  An earlier draft of Mockingbird is going to show us our familiar characters in a changed light. We will see how Lee imagined them before they took full shape in her mind and on the page. This is not a good thing.

I wrote a novel called "What'll I Do?" before I wrote Heroes. I intend never to publish this earlier book. It's a pretty good book with a terrific mystery story. But it also features Hofmann and Grimes. When I wrote Heroes, I saw that these two characters were a lot different than I had thought of them before.  In short, I got those two wrong. That's why I won't publish What'll I Do? The Hofmann and Grimes (and Garvin and a hundred other characters) are the ones in Heroes and Smoke and Exile.

Those around Harper Lee who are doing this, should respect her wishes to not have this new book published.  She plainly did not want it released.  To Kill A Mockingbird is her creation and no one has the right to disturb her vision.
I hope that no one buys this book so that this terrible idea never occurs to anyone ever again. 

I see, sadly, that this book is already number one on Amazon.  If you give these people your money, you are a part of this awful deed.

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