Who’s Watching Over Boo Radley?

Mockingbird This morning: my 9th fastest tempo run, according to Runkeeper. Performed in the rain, of course, since I waited to see if the soggy was just a squall I could wait out and finally decided fuck it, let’s go. Now that I’m finally dry and settled with some tea, the rain’s stopped. Miss B doesn’t care–she’s wash and wear, having an amazing Aussie coat that shrugs off dirt and water with astonishing ease. She is currently a little damp and just a tad fluffy, and supremely happy with the world since she had bacon grease with brekkie and a run with Mum.

The news broke this morning about a “new” Harper Lee novel. At first my response was “RING ALL THE BELLS, HOLY HELL, THIS SOUNDS GREAT! PREORDER IT NOW NOW NOW!”

And then…I started thinking, and I arrived very much where this Jezebel writer did.

“The existence of ‘Go Set a Watchman’ was unknown until recently, and its discovery is an extraordinary gift,” said HarperCollins publisher Jonathan Burnham in a statement.

But was the gift willingly given?

“After much thought and hesitation I shared it with a handful of people I trust and was pleased to hear that they considered it worthy of publication,” Lee said in a statement of her own. “I am humbled and amazed that this will now be published after all these years.”

That might seem like confirmation of Lee’s willing involvement in Go Set a Watchman’s publication, except for the fact that we know about Lee’s messy relationship with her attorney (who, again, often gets her to sign things that she doesn’t understand) and Lee’s own publicity-shy character. (Jezebel)

What emerges after a little digging (try this Vulture piece first, then go see what else you can find) is a situation that sounds incredibly sketchy. Harper Lee lost her sister, the lawyer Alice Lee, who Harper called her “Atticus in a skirt,” and since then, things have gotten shadier and shadier, culminating in this “mystery” find of a Mockingbird prequel and its sale.

Now I’m torn over whether or not I want to buy it. On the one hand, To Kill A Mockingbird is transcendent, and I’d gladly read other things Ms Lee wrote–if I was sure she wanted them read. On the other hand, an almost-century-old woman is in assisted living, signing papers or statements she may or may not understand, may or may not be pressured to sign, and the things she valued all her life–her privacy and her decision to let the one book stand alone–are being broken. I dread the thought of a frail Lee being milked as a cash cow, I loathe the thought of being part of such a milking. It doesn’t seem ethical.

I haven’t decided yet; it bears some more thinking. But I have to say, right now I’m leaning towards the idea that it would be an insult to Lee to participate in this frenzy.

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