Monday, July 11, 2016

To Kill A Mockingbird At 56

This is the first anniversary of the publication of To Kill A Mockingbird to be celebrated without its reclusive and locally beloved author, Harper Lee. I doubt that her hometown, Monroeville, Alabama, will ever be the same without her. She spent her entire life there living a rather reclusive existence with the help of locals who spent a half century sending curious fans everywhere but to Miss Nelle's place. Between 1960 and 1964 she published a few essays and participated in interviews then quietly "retired" until the publication of her second novel, Go Set A Watchman, in 2015.  

We can only imagine how many millions of American high school students have read To Kill A Mockingbird since its publication fifty years ago this summer. I graduated from high school in 1964 and don't recall if the book was required reading; however, it did make the list in college. In fact, I still have my paperback edition, scuffed, tattered, dog-eared, and browned by age after several readings by me and my children.

For more on the book and it's impact on American culture here is an article in The Huffington Post featuring four defenses of this enduring work.  And here is a link to a more critical review by Allen Barra from The Wall Street Journal. Barra's observations are brief and well worth reading. For a fine summation of the life of the author, here is her obituary by William Grimes that appeared in The New York Times, February 19, 2016.

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