Sunday, August 30, 2009

Regarding: To Kill A Mockingbird

I picked up a reader's guide to Harper Lee's novel, To Kill A Mockingbird at the library on Saturday. The National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Arts Midwest has initiated THE BIG READ to restore reading to the center of American culture. THE BIG READ is a community reading project sponsored by Beloit College and the Beloit Public Library and funded by the NEA. Its goal is to have everyone in Beloit reading, re-reading, and talking about the book, To Kill A Mockingbird.
A kick-off event for THE BIG READ in Beloit will be held on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2009 at the library. At the event, community leaders will talk about Beloit reading To Kill A Mockingbird, Beloit College student Ben Hartzell will read the first chapter aloud, and nearly twenty upcoming events and discussions about the book will be announced. I hope to attend.
I also brought home a bookmark listing thirty other books which will be focused on in the future, including:
The Great Gatsby
A Farewell to Arms
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
The Grapes of Wrath
The Age of Innocence
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
I've learned several things about Harper Lee in the reader's guide. She became friends in the early 1930s with Truman Capote as kindergarteners in Monroeville, Alabama. Capote made editorial suggestions to Lee as she was writing her novel and Lee accompanied Capote to Kansas to help research In Cold Blood.
One winter night in 1958, Harper Lee was attempting to work her unruly manuscript of To Kill a Mockingbird into a cohesive novel. Totally frustrated, Lee opened her window and tossed five years of work onto the dirty snow below. After immediately calling her editor, Lee went outside and rescued all the pages from the slush.
To Kill a Mockingbird perched on the hardcover bestseller list for eighty-eight weeks. It won the Pulitzer Prize and the hearts of American readers. According to biographer, Charles J. Shields, Lee was unprepared for the personal attention she received. Ever since, she has led a quiet and guardedly private life. As Sheriff Tate (a character in Lee's novel) says of Boo Radley, "draggin' him with his shy ways into the limelight--to me, that's a sin." So it would be with Harper Lee. From her, To Kill a Mockingbird is gift enough.
I've had a special place in my heart for Harper Lee's only published novel. I'm rereading it now and look forward to the scheduled upcoming events put on by THE BIG READ.
Did you know all of this stuff or did I enlighten you?


Rob said...

I have never read that particular classic. I need to get my head out of cheap novels and read a bunch of the classics, no? Such a slacker am I :)

Thanks for the reminder that there are SO many good (older) books to read instead of just picking up the next new thing from the local book rack.

Anonymous said...

I've been looking for almost a year for a rasonably-priced copy of To Kill a Mockingbird. I found it Sunday at a Border's store in Kahului, Maui. $12.50, paperback, brand new. Co-incidence?


Sarah said...

Excellent post dear Shaddy!!!! To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the best books I've ever read. And the movie wasn't bad either. :) And nope, I didn't know ANY of this, so you enlightened me indeed.

The Big Read sounds like a program I could get on board with. Good for the college and the library! Beloit: so close, yet miles and miles above and beyond J-ville. Yay B-town!

Anonymous said...

I love the classics. I am guilty of reading them more than the new works that are being produced.

This was wonderful insight into the world of Harper Lee. Excellent post Shaddy.

Lia said...

Shaddy,this has to be my most favourite post of yours.
I love this book and have two copies of it, one is a battered old paperback, that is dog eared and falling apart, yet I have no intention of ever getting rid of it.
The other is a hard back 1st edition, that my brother Terry found for me in a second hand book store somewhere in New York about 30 odd years ago. It has pride of place on my book shelf.

I can't honestly say how many times I have read this book, but I can say that it is like an old friend to me and has got me through some tough times, when I just wanted to loose myself and be with old friends.
For me each character is like an old friend, each of them warm and welcoming for all sorts of reasons.
At fist it was 6yr old Scout that I identified with, mostly 'cos she was a tomboy like me.
As I got older it was the issues that really caught me, the racial injustice that is so prominent in the book.
Then I became a parent and it was Atticus that caught my eye.
One of the best parts is when their housekeeper Calpurinia takes the children to her church on a Sunday, this is after Jem, has locked a Sunday school friend into the basement. Instead of harsh punishment, she simply shows them a different way of life that day and therefore teaches them a lesson in understanding others and compassion.
I could go on forever. I didn't know some of the things in your post, so thank you for sharing that with us.
One last thing, I promise. Did you know that often literature teachers give their students an assignment of creating a map of Maycomb County and that there is a web site that sells these map to student
Whatever happened to imagination and thank god that Harper Lee had so much of it.

Much love, I hope you really enjoy the upcoming events and look forward to you posting about it all.
Lia xx
now rushing off to locate battered copy and read again xx

Walk said...

This is all new to me, thanks for sharing.

It's amazing how that her one novel made such an impact. That was quite a kindergarten class she was in, must of been quite an inspirational teacher.

Tina Tarnoff said...

I'm ashamed to say that I've yet to read this book, but I absolutely will pick up my copy soon! And I'm also thinking of rereading the Great Gatsby, thanks for the reminder!

Gullible said...

Thanks for this info, Shaddy. I'd not heard any of it before. And, I envy you The Big Read, and wish there was something like it in my community.

Shaddy said...

Rob: Try it (reading the classics), you'll like it!

Gully: 'Tis a coincidence that you just picked up a nice copy of TKAM the other day.

Sarah: I want to watch the movie again soon. Gregory Peck was perfect for Atticus' role.

Lia: I truly lit a fire under you when I brought up Harper Lee's book. It's nice to have faithful friends on our shelves just waiting to be spend time with us.

Walk: It feels good to have been informative with my blog for a change. Lee did start a second novel but didn't complete it.

Tina: I love book lists, otherwise, I forget about the great ones I've read and never tire of rereading.

Shaddy said...

darksculptures: I'm with you. I return to the classics often.

Zelda P. said...

To Kill a Mockingbird and The Great Gastby - two of my favorites. I'd love to read more but I read so slowly... I'm still trying to get through what I thought would be a quick summer read: The Beekeeper's Apprentice (there's enough of it left after Syd gnawed the spine that I can still read it). Normally, books ARE treated with respect in our house. Apparently, Syd didn't read the memo.


Back in school we had to read To Kill a Mockingbird, the movie isn't bad either...Such classic! My feeling, they might do a remake of the movie soon...