I’ve been just social butterflying around this weekend, having great conversations, getting my oil changed, discussing with children whether God is afraid of us. Child’s answer was along the lines of talking about the Flood and saying “Yes.” Which I found kind of profound and disturbing.
I wrote a hard part of Ashland this weekend and I’m feeling both proud and a little frightened. Which I guess is a good thing for a horror novel?
I think I have distilled my Harper Lee opinions down to the following: as readers, all we can do that is respectful of Lee’s agency, is believe that she does, indeed, want the book published and we can thus decide to read it or not based on whether it sounds like a good book (though I’ll note that none of the reviews I’ve read so far have actually said if the book is any good, which I find strange).
But my gut, as someone in the publishing industry, is that there’s a reason that Harper Collins is publishing a rough draft with a light copyedit–Lee isn’t up to the tasks an author has to perform during the publication process. My suspicion is that, if Lee were to try to perform those duties, it would be obvious to too wide a circle at Harper Collins that she wasn’t up for it and suspicions that she’s being exploited would move in people’s minds more firmly into fact.
I wish that Harper Collins had either issued WATCHMAN in some kind of critical edition–where the text was left as-is, but an expert of some sort provided contextualization and footnoting and other things–in other words, treated the manuscript like a kind of historical artifact OR that they’d put the book through the publishing process–genuinely editing it and providing the author the opportunity to shape it into a draft she felt proud of that suited the marketplace now.
I find the middle path they’ve chosen to be, at the least, disrespectful of WATCHMAN and Lee as an author and I will not be surprised if/when it comes out that Lee was not fully able to consent to the publication.
But, like I said, we can only go by what we’ve been told is Lee’s position. If it turns out we were lied to, we’ve not somehow betrayed Lee by reading the book.