"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

"Childhood is gone"--Harper Lee's new novel

Gut-wrenching, and prose as poetry, and insight.  That's my initial reaction reading "Go Set a Watchman" by Harper Lee, purchased by Susan from Best of Books in Edmond--she'd reserved it ahead of time.​
Yesterday, after 99 pages, I told her, "Well, It's not 'To Kill a Mockingbird,'  and not as serious. It's a good story, some good humor in conversations, but no drama, yet."
Then I picked it up again in the afternoon, turned the page to a new chapter, and like Scout, was jolted.
Reading some more this morning, on the back porch, where wrens and cardinals and robins flitted around the feeder and lawn, I found peace, prose and insight that fits even today, especially in light of those Oklahoma racists waving flags in President Obama's face this past week.
Here's one small excerpt:
"...in terms of a recurring story as old as time: the chapter which concerned her began two hundred years ago and was played out in a proud society the bloodiest war and harshest peace in modern history could not destroy, returning, to be played out again on private ground in the twilight of a civilization no wars and no peace could save."
Don't try to compare it with "Mockingbird," which is mythic, but you and everyone will.   It is a sort of sequel, set 20 years later. Even the covers are similar, which is symbolic. I'd just say, "Childhood is gone." Of course the new book has critics. So? 
But it is Harper Lee's beautiful writing and story telling, and in addition to the reality of racism, there is humor, grace, insight and depth to the characters and into 1950s America, and to 2015, apparently,  as well.
 

1 comment:

  1. Will read it if I came across it but I have never read her first one but have seen the movie a few times.
    Merle............

    ReplyDelete