This summer my reading list went South. I have to keep catching myself before I sink into my Southern drawl … does that happen to you? When you’re reading a book about the South, you actually read it with a drawl in your head? Why are we so attracted to the South? Oh ya … Matthew McConaughey!
Before I read the highly anticipated Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee, I decided to re-read To Kill a Mockingbird. Actually, I’m not really sure I ever read it but figured it must have been so long ago that I wouldn’t remember anyway … it was written in 1960 and went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961, the year I was born!
I loved it! It really is a classic and if you haven’t read it or it’s been years, then definitely pick it up again … it is still so relevant. Even though American culture has changed drastically in the last 50 years, there is still so much that has remained the same … you just have to listen to Donald Trump to believe it! Presidential Candidate ???? You could also check out the original movie To Kill A Mockingbird starring Gregory Peck. Did you know that Harper Lee was neighbours with Truman Capote? And that she assisted him in writing In Cold Blood? I didn’t, but thanks to the research I do for this blog, I am now the wiser.
Although Go Set A Watchman reads like a sequel, it was actually written in 1957 and was the original draft of what later became To Kill Mockingbird. The manuscript was apparently discovered by her lawyer Tonja Carter in a safe deposit box and in February 2015, it was announced that HarperCollins would publish the manuscript on July 14th. Et Viola! The 88 year old Harper is once again in the headlines. These are the only two books she has ever published and has purposely avoided the limelight her entire life.
I liked Go Set A Watchman, mostly because it shed a realistic light on the struggle of the protagonist Atticus Finch. His struggle against racism also included his doubts about the readiness of his black neighbours in the South to adjust to a completely different reality. The North South divide characterized by “Scouts” return to Maycomb, Alabama, sheds a light on a complex situation that is still playing out today across America.
This book may not be the To Kill A Mockingbird literary equivalent, and has even been accused of being a commercial publishing stunt. The great success is that almost everyone ends up reading To Kill A Mockingbird again. Sales of the book have skyrocketed by 6600%. Now that’s smart marketing!
So, after killing two birds with one stone … pun intended, I moved onto Bull Mountain, the debut novel by Southern writer Brian Panowich, a firefighter in East Georgia. This is your classic Good vs Evil Crime Saga featuring plenty of blood, guts and raw violence revolving around a multi-generational family feud … Hillbilly style! Gripping, raw and probably pretty realistic, this is a great read and one that the guys would love as well. Women, whiskey, guns, meth and the backwoods southern mafia … it’s a winner! I can just see the screenplay now ….
PS There is a long list of famous celebrities that come from the South … check it out! 53 Celebrities with Southern Roots
Y’all come back now ….