How I Won’t Remember Harper Lee

Nelle Harper Lee, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of To Kill a Mockingbird, died in her sleep on February 19 in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama. She was 89.

Lee is literary royalty.

“All I want to be,” she said a long time ago, “is the Jane Austen of South Alabama.”

It would seem that she far exceeded her goal.

I will cherish some memories about Lee and her work, but I won’t remember her for Go Set a Watchman, a lost-and-found manuscript from 1957 that was published as Lee’s second novel a year ago. I haven’t read Go Set a Watchman. I doubt that I will. It strikes me as an opportunistic publishing episode that should not have happened.

And yet, it’s not a blemish on Lee’s legacy. Not for me. Instead of reading “Watchman,” I’ll just read “Mockingbird” again. There will be many others who do the same.

The New York Times obituary and video.

Advertisements

The Odd Jobs of Literary Giants

I saw this in the latest issue of Writer’s Digest in an article by Alex Palmer, the author of Literary Miscellany: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Literature. Many of those famous authors whose words are immortalized in literary classics did all sorts of odd jobs while they were perfecting their writing craft.

For example, meet …

Kurt Vonnegut, manager of America’s first Saab dealership

John Steinbeck, painter, fruit picker, estate caretaker and Madison Square Garden construction worker

Stephen King, high school janitor

Harper Lee, reservation clerk for Eastern Air Lines

J.D. Salinger, entertainment director on a Swedish luxury ocean liner

Continue reading “The Odd Jobs of Literary Giants”