To Set A Watchman
Today I read Saturday’s Age supplement, Spectrum, and noted with interest that the paper has devoted several articles to Harper Lee’s new novel. As I read Go Set a Watchman I groaned at how awful it was. The prose is riddled with flat language and corny clichés. Feisty and precocious Jean Louise (Scout) has been reduced to a bland adult who is overly cautious, old before her and time trying to appear intelligent and engaging.
I checked out other responses left on online newspapers, and was surprised that others were similarly unimpressed and struggling to say anything positive about the sequel. I expected that with all the hype readers would gush. Given how popular To Kill a Mockingbird still is, it’s not surprising that readers would be curious about the character’s lives ten even twenty lives later – I certainly was.
Recently, I was shouted down online when I dared to mention the famous rumour that Harper Lee’s childhood friend Truman Capote wrote To Kill a Mockingbird or at least contributed to the novel. I said this from the perspective of a teacher who has taught the text for many years, as part of English faculty discussions about course material and fiction and non-fiction texts in general, but more importantly because I am familiar with Truman Capote’s work. After reading the extract of the long awaited sequel I have more faith in this rumour.
Apart from clichés, such as, ‘bat out of hell’ and ‘green envy’ the writing is lifeless. For example, ‘he found something so intensely feminine about her that he fell in love.’ This reads like E L James. Given the extract that I’ve read, I’m not tempted to go to the Wheeler Centre to listen to Lax Lasry and the 5 other guests discuss more on Go Set a Watchman. I’d rather re-read and enjoy To Kill a Mockingbird.