Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Why I Won't Read Go Set a Watchman

To Kill A Mockingbird was the best book I read in all four years of high school, and for years afterward, it was the title I gave when I was asked to name my favorite book. (Now I usually name a children's book because that is primarily what I read, but To Kill a Mockingbird is still among my favorite novels for grown-ups, and it's still my answer when "serious" grown-ups are the ones posing the question.) Despite my love for the novel, however, I could not be less interested in Go Set a Watchman, which comes out today, and I do not plan to read it. There are four main reasons:

  1. I am still suspicious of the circumstances under which this book is being published. I have always admired Harper Lee for her willingness to walk away after writing just one great book, and I find it hard to believe that she is suddenly interested in having the public read what is essentially a rough draft of her beloved classic. It strikes me as suspicious that this decision came about only after Lee's sister died, and during a time when she is living in an assisted living facility. It doesn't sit right with me, and deep down, I don't think this is what Harper Lee truly wants.
  2. It was never intended to be a sequel. I've already read several articles talking about how the representation of Atticus in Go Set a Watchman has "ruined" readers' visions of him and caused them to question their devotion to his character. My response is that of course it has! Go Set a Watchman is not a continuation of To Kill A Mockingbird; it's essentially the writing exercise that led to To Kill a Mockingbird. I might be interested in a true sequel, but this is not that. I don't want to know what might have been. I appreciate To Kill a Mockingbird as it was originally published.
  3. It is a guaranteed disappointment. There is absolutely no way a second Harper Lee book published 55 years after the first can live up to the anticipation and hype surrounding it. Even if I found that I kind of liked Go Set a Watchman, it would still be a let-down compared with To Kill a Mockingbird. Why set myself up? There are plenty of other books for me to enjoy.
  4. Ignorance is bliss. If Go Set a Watchman is going to ruin To Kill a Mockingbird for me, or if there is some revelation about a character that would forever change my reading of the original novel, I am better off not knowing anything about it at all. There is nothing about To Kill a Mockingbird that leaves me feeling unsatisfied or that I have been deprived of a proper resolution. I think, for true fans of the classic novel, Go Set a Watchman is a can of worms best left unopened. 

Are you planning to read Go Set a Watchman? Why or why not? 
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