Friday, August 14, 2009

To Kill a Mockingbird

I had never read this novel despite growing up in Alabama. And after reading it with it's sensibilities mired somewhere between the 1930s and 1960 I can see why school didn't have us read it in the still not quite settled early 1980s. But boy am I glad I finally got around to it.

I grew up in a series of textile mill towns. While it's not exactly like Maycombe, I can relate easily to Maycombe and the people who inhabit it. Completely leaving aside the issues of justice, Lee does an amazing job painting a picture of Southern life in the 30s. Frankly that kind of life persisted well into the 60s and beyond.

I also like how Lee didn't sugarcoat Tom Robinson's story. I think she handled it with true realism. As for the enigmatic Boo, he reminds me of what Julia Sugarbaker once said. In the South, the question isn't do you have crazy people in your family; the question is what side are they on?

I finally get now why people are so disappointed Harper Lee never wrote another novel. Her prose was infecting, and now I too can be added to that list of many, many disappointed fans.

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