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Re: Thanks for the review. Camilla Send a noteboard - 24/05/2011 12:14:08 AM
I held off reading this book for ages. Mainly because someone described it as a book about growing up in the South. While accurate, this is not all it is, and it is not the best selling point when describing a book to me: the bildungsroman has never been my favourite genre, and the American South not my favourite region. I also tend to be more drawn to European classics than the American ones (I do not know why; I am sure there is a sensible explanation that does not make me look like a bigot).

I'm the same way, I guess... some American classics I read and loved, but there are others that I feel not much inclination to read, and I'm certainly worse read in American literature than in British and French literature (though probably better than in the other major "literatures" ). I guess it might be because the mindset is a bit different from the European one, without being exotic enough to become fascinating in its strangeness. Though of course that depends on the book; "The Age of Innocence" could well pass for European literature. And a book like "The Catcher in the Rye" is very American, but somehow very recognizable even to Europeans all the same.

Henry James and Poe, I suppose, are the classic American writings that pass as European. Certainly in my brain.

I do, however, feel drawn to the Truman Capote/F. Scott Fitzgerald New York scene of American writing, and it was via this avenue that I finally discovered Nelle Harper Lee for myself. She was a childhood friend of Capote, and I had heard that one of the characters in To Kill a Mockingbird was based on him. Naturally, I had to read it. Thus my discovery of one of the truly great books of the world.

What's with the Nelle? :P

It is her name. I do not know why she abandoned her first name as an author, but I have a suspicion it is related to the problems female writers face.

Words like "compelling" have lost much of their meaning through over-use, which is sad because it suits the book perfectly. It is also perfectly plotted, quite apart from the important themes it deals with. Each strand of the story, which is skilfully made to seem like simply an episode or moment of small town life becomes important in the story as a whole: Boo Radley, Tom Robinson, the pride of the Cunninghams, the difference between the Cunninghams and the Ewells, Mrs Dubose, the rabid dog, Atticus' sense of honour and his ability to do what is necessary, all come together; and I cannot find fault with the claim that opens the book, that to make sense of Jem's broken arm, the story must begin where it does. The variety of impressions and local sketches, then, do not only have a value in their own right as creating an image of a particular time and place, they also have a place in a tightly constructed plot. Still, I would argue that the road to the end is still the main point.

It's funny how sometimes a writer can write a tremendously good book on their first try - and then stop publishing because they can never live up to the first one. Harper Lee is no doubt the best example, on a somewhat different level Margaret Mitchell comes to mind as well. Just imagine they'd written more books, even if none of those was quite as good as their magna opera (that looks very weird, but it should be right...).

The Norwegian author Jan Wiese is another star example.

More than all this, however: I love Atticus Finch. I defy anyone not to.

How very unsurprising. :P

structured procrastinator
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To Kill a Mockingbird by Nelle Harper Lee - 22/05/2011 06:28:11 PM 8221 Views
I reviewed it last year - 22/05/2011 07:45:48 PM 1910 Views
Huh. I seem to have missed that. - 22/05/2011 11:17:11 PM 1825 Views
It's a beautiful, incredible book. - 22/05/2011 08:21:48 PM 1760 Views
Re: It's a beautiful, incredible book. - 22/05/2011 11:18:32 PM 1711 Views
Also - 22/05/2011 11:33:27 PM 1684 Views
Don't you think that, you know, too many people have read it already? - 23/05/2011 09:55:52 PM 1774 Views
Does that disqualify it? - 24/05/2011 01:49:54 PM 1729 Views
I don't know, if a lot of people want to have this book in a Book Club, I have no objections. - 24/05/2011 07:01:38 PM 1720 Views
Well, that's true. - 25/05/2011 01:20:54 PM 1833 Views
Loved that book. - 22/05/2011 09:07:16 PM 1735 Views
Re: Loved that book. - 22/05/2011 11:19:29 PM 1735 Views
A great book - 22/05/2011 09:13:12 PM 1769 Views
Re: A great book - 22/05/2011 11:20:02 PM 1735 Views
“Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father’s passin’.” *NM* - 23/05/2011 12:03:34 AM 925 Views
Indeed. *NM* - 23/05/2011 09:37:38 AM 904 Views
Bah. This seems like a lame book. It will never catch on. - 23/05/2011 01:31:10 AM 1857 Views
LOL *NM* - 23/05/2011 08:36:55 AM 878 Views
Hehehe. *NM* - 23/05/2011 09:38:03 AM 952 Views
Um, there's already a rfilm version of this. - 23/05/2011 01:11:36 PM 1608 Views
Suspect he knows that. *NM* - 23/05/2011 01:15:46 PM 912 Views
I don't think I've ever met anyone who doesn't like this book. *NM* - 23/05/2011 09:37:52 AM 907 Views
So it survives being taught in school? - 23/05/2011 09:39:18 AM 1725 Views
Yup. *NM* - 23/05/2011 02:47:17 PM 919 Views
I've met some, but it was a casualty of middle school English. *NM* - 23/05/2011 07:40:27 PM 835 Views
Thanks for the review. - 23/05/2011 10:07:46 PM 2063 Views
Re: Thanks for the review. - 24/05/2011 12:14:08 AM 1808 Views
Let me ask the politically incorrect questions, since no one else has. - 24/05/2011 03:14:50 AM 1951 Views
Hmm - 24/05/2011 10:22:50 AM 1821 Views
I think that's a fair point. - 24/05/2011 07:00:04 PM 1826 Views
Calpurnia is a stereotype too. - 24/05/2011 11:54:26 PM 1762 Views
The difference, at least in my recollection, is that Calpurnia is well-educated. - 25/05/2011 08:09:58 PM 1703 Views
Re: The difference, at least in my recollection, is that Calpurnia is well-educated. - 25/05/2011 10:59:26 PM 1773 Views
Yes. This. *NM* - 26/05/2011 04:56:48 AM 831 Views
I think there was at least once incident showing a racist black person - 24/05/2011 07:33:09 PM 1958 Views
Almost a non-incident - 24/05/2011 08:51:59 PM 1623 Views
I think it was written to accomplish a goal and it did that very well - 25/05/2011 04:08:17 PM 1742 Views
Given your introductory portion - 11/06/2011 01:28:40 AM 1765 Views
It just occurred to me - 11/06/2011 01:30:05 AM 1712 Views
Re: It just occurred to me - 11/06/2011 11:36:21 AM 1811 Views
I have read both - 11/06/2011 11:35:11 AM 1588 Views
All of Twain's stuff is great - 13/06/2011 02:27:55 AM 1802 Views
Re: All of Twain's stuff is great - 13/06/2011 08:17:05 AM 1716 Views
And some poets - Tennyson and Yeats come to mind. *NM* - 13/06/2011 10:11:31 AM 825 Views
Keats? - 13/06/2011 10:14:58 AM 1810 Views
I have to say... - 13/06/2011 05:27:26 PM 1652 Views
Re: I have to say... - 13/06/2011 05:54:45 PM 1742 Views

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