Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Me and Harper Lee

Today Harper Lee's "second" book, Go Set a Watchman, came out. I say "second" because this was really the first book she wrote (mid-1950). Miss Lee's editor rejected the book and asked her to write a new version from Scout's perspective as a young girl. To Kill a Mockingbird was written and became the first published book by Harper Lee.

A couple of months ago I pre-ordered a copy of Go Set a Watchman from Copperfish Books, our local bookstore, and this evening Copperfish Books had a Release Party.

I have been looking forward to this evening.

Two days before the book's release an idea took hold of me. This idea was to dress up as Scout for the party. I happened to have a pair of overalls in my closet but I had to raid The Colonel's side of the closet for a checkered, short-sleeved shirt (I had done some online research to see what kind of shirts Scout wore under her overalls).

I had my hair cut last week and the lady cut it way too short...so maybe I looked more like Scout's brother Jem. Oh well, it will grow back (but I will not be going back to the same lady).

Upon walking into Copperfish Books I was asked to sign a name tag and put it on. I was handed a tiny slip of paper with another name on it. It was Dill from To Kill a Mockingbird. This name I was to keep a secret. I slipped the paper into the pocket of my overalls.

The bookstore was beginning to fill up with other bibliophiles. The owners of Copperfish Books had a table filled with yummy finger foods and the most delicious slushy, bourbon punch.

We played a To Kill a Mockingbird trivia game and then "Mockingbird Bingo". This is where the secret name on the tiny slip of paper came into play. The bingo card had the names of various characters from the book on it. The object of the game was to be the first one to get a bingo. We did this by walking around the room and asking each other what their secret name was. Once they told you and you found that name on your bingo card, you wrote that person's real name next to it (hence the need for name tags). I had only one more name to find for a diagonal bingo when a woman yelled, "BINGO!" That is always how it is with me and Bingo. She won a gift certificate.

There was one more prize to be given before the party ended. The prize was a collector's copy of To Kill a Mockingbird. All of those who had pre-ordered a book had their names in the drawing. Since I was dressed up as Scout (the only one who dressed up), I was chosen to draw the name. I wanted to pull my name out but when I read the name on the folded piece of paper it was not mine. It was the lady's sitting to the right of me. It is always that way...the person next to me always wins. I am a lucky charm for anyone sitting next to me. I announced the winner's name in my best Scout accent.

The party was winding down so I went to the counter and picked up my pre-ordered book.

I had so wanted to win that collector's book and when I looked behind the lady at the counter I saw another collector's edition of To Kill a Mockingbird on display...this one was for sale. It was a 1st edition, 15th printing. The owners of Copperfish Books said the price was reduced this evening only. Of course I bought it (I will consider it an early, early birthday present to myself. I had to buy it, it was the Pulitzer Prize Novel of 1961, the year I was born).

There has been much media buzz about this new Harper Lee book. I refuse to let this taint my reading experience. We must keep in mind that it was written before Mockingbird and the time and place in which it was written; Alabama, pre-Civil Rights Movement.

I will read my new book and then I will reread To Kill a Mockingbird (the collector's edition of course).

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