“Remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”
July 21, 2014 4:40 PM   Subscribe

The Decline of Harper Lee: [Vulture] The iconic 88-year-old author is involved in [another] messy tussle over a new biography. Does this mean she'll never tell her own story?

Related: "A Deeper Look at the Mystery of Harper Lee" [Los Angels Times]
"In the last few years, Harper Lee has been in the news. She lost her copyright to "To Kill A Mockingbird" and had to sue her former agent to get it back. She sought to block the small museum in her hometown of Monroeville, Ala [New York Times]., from selling "To Kill a Mockingbird" merchandise. She has, through an attorney, disavowed the new book "The Mockingbird Next Door" [NPR] by Marja Mills, a journalist who became Lee's neighbor -- although lawyers representing her sister say the book was undertaken with Harper Lee's consent.
Previously. Previously.
posted by Fizz (12 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
If this interests you, you will want to listen to the Fresh Air interview with Marja Mills by Terry Gross (aired last Monday).
posted by spock at 5:02 PM on July 21, 2014 [5 favorites]


She parallels with Salinger in many ways.
posted by Fizz at 5:06 PM on July 21, 2014


I heard the fresh air interview. Terry was pretty hard on Marja.

I'll just say that the circumstances make it hard for me to see Harper's side in this. It seems she gave consent to be quoted in a book and later changed her mind for whatever reason. I'd be glad to hear her side of it, but that seems unlikely.
posted by sp160n at 5:23 PM on July 21, 2014


Sartre said that the dead are food for the living, but with writers we start earlier.
posted by thelonius at 5:23 PM on July 21, 2014 [6 favorites]


“It was as though the people needed the ugliness of the village, and fed on it. The houses and the stores seemed to have been set up in contemptuous haste to provide shelter for the drab and the unpleasant.”

We Have Always Lived in the Castle
posted by Bistle at 5:29 PM on July 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


Sartre said that the dead are food for the living, but with writers we start earlier.

Did Sartre ever meet Warhol?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:53 PM on July 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


I grew up in the southeastern United States, and like many, raised on this work. First the movie, and then a reading as assignment in high school. I'd say only Gone with the Wind rivals its influence. But then came O'Connor and McCullers, prolific and dying at the ages of 38 and 50, respectively. And many know their opinions of Lee's singular work: A children's story that "does alright" and "poached on my literary preserves."
Lee was lifelong friends with Capote. Ick.
To Bistie-- love Jackson too, love a Californian.
posted by lazycomputerkids at 6:14 PM on July 21, 2014


I never saw the movie, and I wouldn't have read the book but for it being assigned in high school, and like many of the books that were assigned, I really liked it. Too bad she only had the one novel in her, but good that she didn't try to sell the world on something half assed banking on her success like John Knowles did. I know the rumors that Truman Capote actually wrote it since they were friends, and couldn't sell it because it wasn't his thing, but maybe Truman Capote was her editor for it, or maybe he wasn't involved at all other than encouragement. Really, it doesn't matter, it was a good read with a good message. The problem here isn't with what she did or didn't agree to, it's that we have this star fucking society, and we all have to know the minutiae of people that create great things, do great things, or are just popular for no reason at all. Like Salinger, I never remember Harper Lee craving the limelight, or trying to grossly capitalize on her success. I think people need to live with what creative folk give us, and leave them alone. I think the world would be a better, more productive place if we did that. She lived quietly, and I imagine now that she's getting older, people feel like they need to get inside her skull before she dies. Maybe it's an affront to historians, but let's just leave her be and live her life in peace. Too many people are vultures trying to pick from the bones of the creative and successful, and too many people eat that up. This tail end of her life seems sad with all this crap. My mom is only a little younger than she is, and I can't imagine her going through the grinder like this. It's hard enough living to your 80's, and the world is a speedy, confusing place at that age, but to have fame at that age, the pressures must be phenomenal. So hard to make decisions when everything you might say is dissected to the nth degree.

I won't read any of the crap written about her, and I really try to avoid that kind of thing in general. I know these days that authors etc. need to make the rounds to sell their wares, but I even tire of Terry Gross as good as she is. There was a time when I was interested in what creatives had to say, and in their though process or how they got where they are, but now I look back and realize that I should just concentrate on their product. I don't care if they picked their boogers or their parents beat them. I just want to enjoy the product of their creativity.
posted by Eekacat at 7:26 PM on July 21, 2014 [10 favorites]


good that she didn't try to sell the world on something half assed banking on her success like John Knowles did

Well, he finally redeemed himself with "The Kite Runner"
posted by thelonius at 7:41 PM on July 21, 2014


The problem here isn't with what she did or didn't agree to, it's that we have this star fucking society, and we all have to know the minutiae of people that create great things, do great things, or are just popular for no reason at all. Like Salinger, I never remember Harper Lee craving the limelight, or trying to grossly capitalize on her success. I think people need to live with what creative folk give us, and leave them alone. I think the world would be a better, more productive place if we did that. She lived quietly, and I imagine now that she's getting older, people feel like they need to get inside her skull before she dies. Maybe it's an affront to historians, but let's just leave her be and live her life in peace. Too many people are vultures trying to pick from the bones of the creative and successful, and too many people eat that up

amen
posted by philip-random at 10:52 PM on July 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


Is there some reason that writing a book makes you and your life public property?
posted by Legomancer at 6:09 AM on July 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


Legomancer - I was just thinking the same thing!
posted by Faintdreams at 7:47 AM on July 22, 2014


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