“Any teacher that can be replaced with a computer, deserves to be.” – David Thornburg

19 July 2015

GO SET A WATCHMAN, better off lost?

I've just finished reading Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee, the we-don't-know-what-to-call-it (prequel, sequel,...) of our beloved To Kill a MockingbirdAfter realising that Go Set A Watchman was written before To Kill a Mockingbird, maybe the best description is to say that it was a draft that, ten years later and with a change of perspective, turned out to be the Pulitzer-winning book we are so fond of. 

I don't really know what to make of it. On the one hand, it has been a literary trauma. On the other one, it makes you aware that life is complex and human beings are even more complex. If you decide to tackle it, first, be ready for some shocking revelations, Second, bear in mind it is only the draft of a beginner writer, in fact, just the seed for To Kill a Mockingbird, not a prequel or sequel or even a separate novel. And third, please do some research about the place and time, the Confederate States vs. the Yankees, etc. so that, at least, you can use some sense in understanding the contradictions you are going to encounter.

The Guardian article 1
The Guardian article 2

Plot twists explained (spoiler alert)

"If Mockingbird projects a South that can be read in terms of black and white, Watchman shows us the gray complexity that is the real Dixie. In this powerful newly published story about the Finch family, Lee presents a wider window into the white Southern heart, and tells us it is finally time for us all to shatter the false gods of the past and be free." (NPR news)

Go Set A Watchman: exclusive extract, chapter one

After reading it, I see two clear options: One, you accept it as a depiction of life being complicated, nobody is perfect and, in the end, we all are products of our own surroundings. Two, turning this hero into a racist is an epic blunder, above all, after the symbol it has become. 

Final verdict: mixed feelings.

Maybe this video will help: How do we read this novel?


Humorous review: