Why I Won’t Read Harper Lee’s GO SET A WATCHMAN

From what I’ve been able to gather, “Go Set a Watchman” isn’t a sequel to “To Kill a Mockingbird.” It’s just an earlier draft of that now iconic novel.

As a novelist, I’d love to see what Lee’s editor first saw when she suggested that Lee rewrite the novel and set it twenty years earlier. But as a novelist and as a person of principle, I can’t read a book that isn’t a book at all, but an earlier draft of a book that has been out for decades now, and that the author never wanted published.

Supposedly the 89 year old author who had a stroke in 2007 had this to say: “I hadn’t realized it had survived, so was surprised and delighted when my dear friend and lawyer Tonja Carter discovered it.” But I remain unconvinced – and very suspicious of Carter, who put out the statement. Not only are there questions about the copyright, who discovered the manuscript – and when and where – but all this has all happened after the death of Alice Lee, the author’s older sister who served as her counselor and caretaker for decades and when Harper herself is described by friends as 95 percent blind, profoundly deaf, with memory issues.

 I believe if Lee wanted this earlier draft of “To Kill a Mockingbird” published it would have happened decades ago. In fact, correspondence from back then suggests that when all the discussions about a second novel were happening following the incredible success of “Mockingbird,” “Watchmen” was never considered because it was never anything but a draft that became “Mockingbird.”

I could be wrong about all this, but until I become convinced otherwise, out of respect to the now vulnerable and compromised author and her masterpiece, I have no intention of reading what amounts to film on the cutting room floor or the excess marble not used in the perfect statute that is “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Posted on July 14, 2015 .