Go Set a Watchman? No thanks.

Harper_LeeIt’s pretty rare that anything literature-based makes it into the mainstream media. Usually it’s a side note at the end of a broadcast about a famous author dying. That’s about it. This week, however, Harper Lee’s release of her sequel to “To Kill a Mockingbird” has actually made headlines.

So the question all my non-literary associates are asking me is simple: Are you going to read it?

Umm…no. No, I am not.

Now here’s the reason, and I’ve said this many times over the years. “To Kill a Mockingbird” is probably one of the most overrated novels of the 20th Century. It’s a great book to read in middle school during your “Diversity and Culture” unit in your 8th grade Language Arts class. It’s the subject matter and theme that people are attracted to. “White Dude defends Black Dude even though other White Dudes don’t want him to.” It’s simple. People can understand it. “Don’t judge people based on outward appearance.” We get there through the trial and Scout’s relationship with Boo Radley. Yup. Got it, Miss Lee. It teaches us lessons about tolerance and diversity and all that crap we’re still dealing with in 2015 even though we have a black president.

The book isn’t overly well written (There’s a reason it’s read in middle school instead of grad school). It doesn’t say anything new or overly complex on the themes it tackles. It’s a solid read, but is it a classic? No, I personally don’t think so. The time period in which it was written and its subject matter draw it far more attention than it deserves.

The other issue I have is unnecessary sequels to classic books…or anything for that matter. Indiana Jones 4 taught me this lesson better than anything else. I wish Harper Lee’s new novel had NOTHING to do with “To Kill a Mockingbird.” I wish she had just written another novel. That I might eventually be enticed to check out. But a sequel to a classic novel released fifty years after the original’s publication? No thank you. I’m sorry, Harper, but Scout and Atticus no longer belong to you in the same way Batman no longer belongs to Bob Kane (if, you know, he was still alive). These characters have become such a part of popular culture that it seems wrong to mess with them. It’s the reason the Potheads become so enraged every time J.K. Rowling releases a stupid Harry Potter short story. It sucks, but if your characters become super popular, they become children to the general public. Scout and Atticus reached that stage decades ago. Leave them be. No one wants to see Atticus at a Klan meeting or spouting racial slurs in 2015.

So, in short, I’ll pass.


~ by themoderntranscendentalist on July 13, 2015.

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