I don't remember seeing the movie To Kill A Mockingbird when I was a child, by that I mean going to the movie theater but that doesn't mean I didn't but I remember seeing the movie on TV several times. There were plenty of other things keeping me occupied as a child and those things needed all the attention I had but I do remember the first time I read the book. That would be in my sophomore year in high school, in English class. My finest year was not my tenth grade year as I was acting out in rebellion over just about anything and in my coolness I could not act like the book moved me in anyway. Each year after that introduction I re-read TKAMB many times.
When I learned of Harper Lee's passing yesterday in the best way possible, from my friend Lisa P, that deep, lonely agonizing feeling of loss, had to be masked while waiting in the doctor's office. When Lucille Ba;; and Gilda Radner passed, I had that same feeling as if a family member or loved one had died. Each of these three women had been such an influence throughout the years. In their own way and unknown to them the profound effect they had on my life produced the reverence and grief of loss. I wrote last year about reading Go Set A Watchman and unlike others who were troubled over Atticus in this narrative, I was more interested in who this brave, said what she thought, tomboy of a girl turned out to be as an adult because I had so identified with Scout as a girl. She'd rather be wearing denim and flannel, playing outdoors and rough housing when she needed to fight or defend what she felt was right. I felt the same way with Nancy Drew, she drove a convertible, wanted to solve mysteries and her boyfriend had a great name, Ned Nickerson. There weren't too many other book characters I identified with because I didn't want to have tea or dress up or go to parties, well for the most part. I would have been one frustrated child if I had wanted to do all those things. One year my grandmother gave us girl cousins china tea sets. I still have mine although the box has disintegrated and no, I don't play with it now. In fact, our china is stored away and I think I have played, I mean used it all of maybe five times in almost thirty nine years of marriage. Bunny trail...anyway,
You have to admire Harper Lee, she played and lived by her rules just about her whole life whether we liked her ways or not. Publishers and fans alike wanted more from her and I think we saw what she didn't want to happen last year with the release of Go Set A Watchman. Everyone hyped up talked of nothing else but the release date and then crushing reviews of a book that should have never been published cast the book into oblivion by summers end. How ironic that two mockingbirds have been on the fence while writing this. They are territorial birds that often fight over space and that's what played out on the fence this morning.
Harper Lee has already been buried, a small funeral held at her behest and instruction, in Monroeville, Alabama. Her physical presence hasn't been felt for years but her literary presence overshadows many authors and their work. She still has an effect on students reading her work as required reading. There are many of us who proclaim Mockingbird our favorite book and movie.
I read this week that Pat Conroy is here in Houston battling pancreatic cancer at MD Anderson. The news quite a blow to many who love his work and now his publishing house giving authors another choice or opportunity to be published.
Great writers, agonizing over the printed word and thought and an end result of the direction of life changed in many readers.