The COVID pandemic has so penetrated my consciousness that I find myself applying social distancing standards to fictional interactions in the books with which I distract myself! This is absolutely ridiculous! Oh, no, a crowd scene! Who’s going to get sick? Get a grip – it happened in Melbourne, Australia in 1927. And, anyway, it’s FICTION! No real people involved.
Aside from this type of nonsense, literature remains a great escape. Haven’t we all used it? As far as I can tell, book groups are going great guns. Most are using Zoom, which has taken over the media/internet extensively. People who never expected to use videoconferencing are deciding it is fantastic. I admit to joining three virtual conferences in eight days, one with my extended family and two with my Quaker meeting. And I sat in on two telemedicine consultations. “Mediated communication” is the new normal. What next?!
I won’t review this book. That has already been done by practically everyone. Amazon lists 8,318 customer reviews!
The publication history of Watchman is interesting. Harper Lee (now almost 90 years old) had said she never intended to publish another book after To Kill a Mockingbird. For the record, I agree that Mockingbird is one of the best American novels ever written.
Watchman is described as a first draft for To Kill a Mockingbird, and it does have a slightly choppy, anecdotal quality. But I was hooked from the first pages. The characters are so vivid and distinctive! Lee is a wonderful narrator. Some people advised Harper Lee not to publish Watchman because it would somehow detract from the stature of To Kill a Mockingbird. I don’t feel that it did.
Watchman has become a favorite of book clubs and discussion groups, at this time when national dialog on race is very intense. What happens when 2015 consciousness is applied to a novel written in the 1950s? If you have participated, please share!
Check my blog entry dated March 12, 2015 for a reminiscence about my first look at To Kill a Mockingbird.