I got the new book Go Set a Watchman, by Harper Lee for my birthday. I got 20 pages into it, got mad and had to put it down for a few days. I had to come back to it with a more intellectual approach and understanding that this was a first draft of a first book.
It is definitively NOT To Kill a Mockingbird. But what in this world is? Still, the writing is crisp. The attempt to make her point is very heavy handed and required me going back and re-reading, trying to understand what she was trying to communicate. And I'm a smart cookie. I ended up having to look up facts about the constitution to try and grasp what it was she was trying to tell me.
There are glimpses of the writing I knew in Mockingbird, which I thrilled to see.
After finishing it, I decided to go back and re-read To Kill a Mockingbird. This book changed my life. I could go on for days about it, but I'll suffice it to say that I enjoyed re-discovering it after a few years of not touching that particular volume. It still reads like the wind to me. Reads like the wind, paints pictures, engages me and still makes my mind boggle at the unfairness in the world and the importance of doing the right thing despite what society's rules tell us.
This Saturday, the Paramount theater in downtown Austin had a screening of the film version. Joel and I went to check it out as we're both big fans. The person who coordinates the programming for the summer film schedule made a short speech before the movie. He told us that Rock Hudson was the person the studio wanted to play Atticus. I said out loud "Oh, that would have been soooo wrong." How could anyone but Gregory Peck play Atticus Finch?
I expected to enjoy the movie but I didn't expect to cry. I didn't expect tears to come running out of my eyeballs when Scout says "Hey Boo." or when Tom Robinson was testifying or when Mayella Ewell flew into hysterics because she thinks she being made fun of when a man is being polite to her.
I wasn't the only one. There was a great deal of sniffing and rustling of napkins. Joel and I spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around South Congress having sodas from Big Top Candy and discussing the movie. We got off on a tangent about what makes a person trashy while talking about the Ewell family.
What does make a person trashy? It's not income, because I've known people who have tons of money but have a trashiness about them. It's not appearance. I work with a woman who is missing one of her front teeth and has a couple crude tattoos, but she has a distinct level of class about her.
It's this odd, intangible concept much like charisma. I haven't been able to put my finger on it. Do you have any ideas?
We also wondered if there's a new movie version of To Kill a Mockingbird in the works. He asked me who I thought should play Atticus if they should make the horrid mistake of remaking the film. I thought a minute and answered Daniel Day Lewis, although I don't know that anyone could do the part justice.
I will say, all this submersing myself in southern gothic literature and film has kept me distracted from the fact that my 25th wedding anniversary would have been this week. It also helped that I completed a new painting, am finishing up one I started a while back and I've got the background to a third washed in already.
Meanwhile, my children have returned from their two weeks with their grandparents in North Carolina and I'll see them tomorrow for the first time in sixteen days.
Macaroni and cheese in on the menu.