So Harper Lee has a new novel coming out. Will I read Go Set A Watchman?
Like many, my exposure to To Kill A Mockingbird, was at school as part of my English curriculum. Let’s get one thing straight right from the off. I didn’t like school. It’s entirely probable my school didn’t like me much either.
It’s funny how the memories of reading certain books evoke different emotions. Take Frank Herbert’s Dune. I remember reading it as a dorky 16 year-old during summer holidays at Point Lonsdale in 1986. I remember the smell of the coconut tanning oil, that godawful beach towel I thought was cool, and my severe awkwardness around every single girl I met who was remotely near my age. I remember immersing myself in Herbert’s world so completely I was both sheltered from embarrassment at my own awkwardness, and probably blind to any interest any of the fore-mentioned girls may have shown in me. God, I was a dweeb! Still am, I guess, but that doesn’t matter much any more. I’ll be 45 this month, and there’s very little left in this world that could embarrass me at all.
To Kill A Mockingbird? I read that in 1987. I was in Year 11, which was probably the worst year of my life at high school. Here I am in year 12, looking much as I did the year before.
Sure I liked the book. I thought the movie was okay, even though it was in black and white. But the whole experience was soured by the horrid time I was having at school. I can imagine many readers feel the same way about certain authors. I know folk who refuse outright to read Dickens or Shakespeare for similar reasons.
Sorry Harper Lee. Unless Go Set A Watchman makes it onto either of my daughters’ school curricula, I won’t read it. It’s nothing personal. It’s just me.