Today, The Guardian has released the first chapter from Go Set a Watchman, the new Harper Lee sequel-that-is-actually-a-first-draft-of-To-Kill-A-Mockingbird. The release of this book is incredibly problematic, to borrow a term from the Internet activists, and there are too many peripheral details surrounding the ordeal that make it seem as though the book was only published due to the death of Lee’s protective older sister and the money-hungry opportunism of a lawyer and a publishing house. For more on that, see the following links:
—The dark suspicions behind the release.
—Harper Lee is actually really happy about the release.
—Alabama says she wasn’t manipulated.
—The manuscript wasn’t actually discovered when they said it was.
Note: Spoilers abound below.
But that’s not why we’re here today. We’re here for the chapter, which you can read like a normal person, experience via interactive animation, or listen to, courtesy of Reese Witherspoon’s dulcet tones.
Among the other revelations, a brief passage explains that Jem Finch, who was last seen unconscious at the conclusion of To Kill a Mockingbird, survived that ordeal only to die in young adulthood:
Just about that time, Jean Louise’s brother dropped dead in his tracks one day, and after the nightmare of that was over, Atticus, who had always thought of leaving his practice to his son, looked around for another young man.
Despite my misgivings with the book, I have to admit that the prose is beautiful, and even though I’ll be checking this book out of the library rather than purchasing it outright, I do recommend that you read the chapter. It’s a shame that the circumstances around the book’s release are so seedy, but new Harper Lee prose is a gift under any circumstance.