I’m having a date with my reserved copy of “Go Set a Watchman,” and meeting Scout as grown up Jean Louise Finch. To get to Barnes & Noble, I took the Broadway 104 bus crowded with irritated passengers. Harper Lee’s writing transports me from 2015 back to 1960’s Maycomb, Alabama. It’s not just that Scout’s grown up, but I have grown up with her. We were about the same age when we first met. Most “Mockingbird” devotees remember when they met Scout and her father Atticus, who will always be gracious Gregory Peck, and where they got scared and or cried in the movie.
I’m curious to meet the new Atticus, a crusty, old segregationist, who by his day’s standards, is hardly considered racist. I wonder about why this book was buried or hidden and it has just now come to light with Harper Lee’s dubious blessing. And about its eerily perfect publication timing, practically on the same day as the Eric Garner case being settled, and after several years of very public police debacles. American-style racism may have changed some since 1960, but not enough. Harper Lee holds up a mirror for society to look at or turn away from, but she is not on a political rant; she is a storyteller who has timelessly mastered her craft. Don’t be afraid to read “Watchman.” The views of her characters are true to their time and place, and Harper Lee is an honest and keen reporter.