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Friday, February 06, 2015

Writerly Events Of The Last Few Days - Colleen, Laura And Harper!

Today, February 7, is the birthday of Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the Little House On The Prairie series - happy birthday, Laura! I confess I haven't got around to reading these, but they are considered classics, so I probably should at some stage.

However, this isn't a meme post. There have been two writer-related things in the last few days, one death, one thing to celebrate.

Amazingly popular Aussie author Colleeen McCullough passed away at only 77 years of age. That isn't all that old these days and Harper Lee, whom I am going to mention next, is a lot older.

I've only read one of her novels, The First Man In Rome, set in the days of the Roman Republic and goodness, wasn't Sulla,  historical figure and one of her protagonists, nasty! She starts you off with some sympathy, with him on his thirtieth birthday, upset because he doesn't qualify for the Senate due to things beyond his control, but by the time he poisons his mistress with mushrooms, on a picnic, he's lost your sympathy, though keeping your fascination. I enjoyed it very much and respected her knowledge of the subject, though she did tend to make you wade through all her research, but not enough to keep reading the series. I did buy a talking book of Caesar's Women, which was on special and was read by Michael York, but that's it. However, I'm in a minority in not enjoying her books enough to keep reading them, and anyone who can entertain and delight so many readers that she would never have to so much as supplement her income with school visits or workshops has my respect - I dips me lid, Colleen! A giant has fallen.

The thing to celebrate is the forthcoming release of a "new" Harper Lee novel. To Set A Watchman was actually her first book, but when the editor suggested that a novel about the childhood of Scout, the adult heroine of the book, might be a good idea, the new author thought she'd better do as she was told and history was made. To Kill A Mockingbird has sold millions of copies, been turned into a film that was a classic in its own right and been the despair of schoolchildren everywhere, forced to read it for English. I have the anniversary edition and the day the ebook was released I bought that immediately, so I can carry it with me everywhere. I'm betting that editor who innocently made that suggestion was airpunching -  "Yes!" - when the book they'd suggested won awards and sold and sold and I only hope Ms Lee acknowledged this. It's a nicer story than all those we hear about publishers who rejected books which went on to sell in the millions.

Anyway, that original manuscript was lost. Nobody knew where it was, including the author, till it turned up last year attached to an original typescript of To Kill A Mockingbird. Cripes, and I think my home is a mess!

Up till a few years ago, I suspect Harper Lee would have said, "Oh, no, don't publish that piece of crap, it's embarrassing!"  But you get that old and you think, "what-the-heck, if I don't say yes now, they'll just publish it after I'm gone." So its coming out in July.

And having said all this, I don't thin I'll buy it until after it has had some decent reviews. I'm not even sure I will read it then. Mockingbird is one of my all-time favourite novels and while I don't think anything this author wrote could be bad, it just won't be the same, and I'm afraid that if I don't love it immediately it may taint my love of the other book.

I'll have to think about this.

What do you think, readers? Who's going to buy it as soon as it comes out? Or not buy it at all?


Lan said...

You have to read the Little House books! They are really fantastic and paint such a vivid picture of frontier life.

I can't wait for the new Harper Lee book but also a little concerned because it might change how I view To Kill A Mockingbird at the same time.

Sue Bursztynski said...

Yeah, I know how you feel. And, I suspect, so does Harper Lee. Apparently, she was a bit worried about writing another book because Mockingbird was so popular, what if she couldn't produce more of the same? This time she has checked it and asked someone else to do the same and decided it's not at all bad, as you do when you've put aside something you've written and come back to it. Well, we have till July to decide.