Monday, February 22, 2016
In Memory of Harper Lee
I don't read much "modern" American fiction, actually. My earliest diet was the classic set written in the eighteen-hundreds. You know, the usual Anne of Green Gables, all of Louisa May Alcott, and so forth. From there I jumped to Lewis and Tolkien, bashed through half of Dickens' novels, and took three tries (and, finally, success) fording through Les Miserables. The Brontes, Austen, Gaskell, and Sir Walter Scott have each had their share of space on my shelves. Wodehouse, Henry James, Dorothy Sayers, and James Herriot have had their say. I'm the veritable property of the Brits and pre-modernity Americans at this point. So to say that I'm well-versed in American fiction would be a straight-forward lie. I don't pretend to be up on my American fiction. I don't think you have to be up on your American fiction to appreciate what Harper Lee did with To Kill a Mockingbird. If writers only improve with time and practice, I'm sorry Lee didn't write more. Almost sorry, though. Because if she was going to be a one-shot wonder, she used her chance well. She gave Americans a novel to conjure with, and influenced so many, many people with her story. What more could you want as a writer?
I hope you'll all join me in remembering Harper Lee and the fine legacy she left American fiction. If you'd like, leave your favorite To Kill A Mockingbird or Go Set a Watchman quote in the comments below as a little memorial to the author who left us Atticus, Scout, Jem, Dill, Calpurnia, and the rest. Rest in peace, Harper Lee.