Last week saw the announcement of a new book about Harper Lee, The Mockingbird Next Door by Chicago Tribune reporter Marja Mills. USA Today explains how Mills obtained material about the notoriously reclusive and publicity-shy Lee:
Mills was able to penetrate Lee’s wariness by working slowly: In 2001, she went to Monroeville, Ala., to write a story about the author. Over the next several years, she gained the trust of both Harper — Nelle to her friends — and her sister, Alice, a formidable person in her own right — “Atticus in a skirt,” still practicing law into her 90s. In 2004, Mills, on leave from work, actually moved to Monroeville, to a house right next door to the sisters.
But the USA Today story also claims, “Mills wrote her story with the approval of both sisters,” an assertion that Harper Lee has vigorously denied:
According to a letter penned by none other than 88-year-old Nelle Harper Lee herself—who, mind you, hasn’t written a book since Mockingbird, doesn’t grant interviews, and generally stays out of the public eye—_The Mockingbird Next Door_ was executed without her cooperation or permission and based on false pretenses. Lee first issued a statement on the matter in 2011 when Penguin Press announced that it had acquired the book. Now, on the evening before its July 15 release, she’s reminding us that nothing has changed on her end.
This EW article reproduces Harper Lee’s letters of April 2011 and July 2014. The article also includes a statement from Penguin Press that it is “proud to publish The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee by Marja Mills” and a letter from Mills insisting “that Nelle Harper Lee and Alice F. Lee were aware I was writing this book.”
I bet we haven’t heard the last of this disagreement.
From novelist Jessica Levine:
The unconventional woman has, since the beginnings of the novel, been a favorite object of study. Take an intelligent woman with a mind critical enough to consider that the restrictions imposed upon the female sex are ridiculous and unfair, and tighten the noose around her neck with an economic downfall or a father’s choice of a repulsive suitor and voilà! – you have the stuff of tragedy – or comedy, depending on the author’s bent. The unconventional responses to a woman’s lot have included taking a lover, walking away from your children, and breaking a variety of other taboos. The following list includes mostly novels that inspired me while I wrote my novel, The Geometry of Love [She Writes Press, $16.95], as well as a volume of poetry and a couple of works of non-fiction.
A history-spanning list of 10 works that, much to my surprise, does not include The Awakening by Kate Chopin.
A useful list for you travel planning, from Kristina Fazzalaro:
The beauty of reading a good book is that it transports you to a whole different world – without ever costing you a penny (at least in travel expenses!). Whether James Joyce guides you through Dublin, or Hemingway fixes you a drink from his home in Key West, literature opens pathways to other dimensions that never require a passport. But sometimes the imagination needs a dose of reality to fully grasp the whole picture. Other times, an author’s words so imbue a reader’s mind, he or she cannot help but pack up bags to experience the same sights, sounds and smells that gave birth to a favorite novel. Poets, novelists, and playwrights give us a little bit of their world on every page – and now it’s our chance to take a bit more for ourselves. The best destinations for book lovers are enumerable: Every person has a favorite author, and every author has a different world view. But there are some spots around the globe that possess just a bit more of a literary spark than others. So pack your bags – and your favorite paperback – because we’re going on a trip perfect for any bookworm.
I’m guessing that she really means innumerable—-“incapable of being counted, countless”—instead of enumerable, which means “capable of being counted.”
Nonetheless, this international list includes suggestions for where to stay in each city.
Someday, I will return to Ireland. And when I do, I’ll take a printout of this infographic with me.
In the meantime, I offer you a couple of photos of the Dublin Writers Museum.