Go Set a Watchmen by Harper Lee
Was stumbling through a few Amazon pages and spotted this page, already in full effect in advance of the release of Lee’s sequel to To Kill A Mockingbird.
Already available for pre-order. Amazing. I’m launching myself all over it.
First of all, why did it take a lawyer ‘finding’ what was believed to be a lost copy of Watchmen after sixty years for Harper Lee to publish another novel? Was she no longer writing after Mockingbird?
From what I’ve read about Nelle Harper Lee, she went the route of J.D. Salinger and fled the limelight as fiercely as a nocturnal bat flees the dawn. The success and attention of Mockingbird was something I read her quoted as saying, “I wouldn’t go through that again for any amount of money.”
It seems times have changed.
My second question, and this one I find a bit more troubling, is why now? Why, when she was quite vocal about her desire to be out of the limelight, remain reclusive and refrain from producing any future works would the ‘finding’ of this second novel result in her actually releasing it? What changed?
(To clarify before I go on, I lost my mind with excitement when I heard this book was coming out. That having been said -)
Here’s my theory: The decline of Harper Lee is not one of monetary troubles (she makes on average $9,000 a day from royalties for Mockingbird from what I’ve read, or $3 mil plus a year), but one of cognitive decline. She suffered a stroke that left her somewhat blind and deaf, and was ‘forced’ the sell her New York home in lieu of 24 hour assisted living a few years ago. My grandmother on my mother’s side is still with us, wiling away her hours in a home with 24 hour care. I could saunter in there any day, ask her if she knows my brother’s name and she’d stare at me as I was a whack job. She remembers me though, which I appreciate when I see her. Still, if I visited her and asked her whether she’d agree to letting me sell some long forgotten object over which she’d once been very protective, chances are she’d respond with, “Whatever you want to do. What’s for lunch?”
I truly hope Lee is still spry and cognitive, capable of making such grand decisions when it comes to her work and her estate, because there are many who stand to gain from this release. I’m not sure Harper will even notice the difference from her ivory tower.