Sunday, June 27, 2010

Scout, Atticus & Boo (Mary McDonagh Murphy)

As of this writing, a signed, first-edition of arguably the greatest American novel of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird, is going for $565.00 to $1,800.00 on Ebay. The fact that signed copies are so incredibly rare is not the only reason. Harper Lee wrote one novel in her lifetime, and chances are, she will not be writing another one. In this novel, she said what she needed to say, then stopped publishing. Some would question why she did not write another. Well, if you were the author of To Kill a Mockingbird, there would be no place to go after but down.

Murphy is to be commended for interviewing many subjects as to what this novel means to them. From Oprah Winfrey, who begged and pleaded with Lee for an interview (and knew within 20 minutes of meeting her that she was never going to get anything on the record) to Lee's older sister, Alice, we learn a tremendous amount about her. Often stated that she is one of the most reclusive authors ever, Alice argues that she is absolutely not reclusive in her hometown of Monroeville (also the location of the novel). She chose to write one novel to express her thoughts on racism and countless other subjects (through her beloved narrator, Scout), then settled down to a quiet life. Lee saw what fame did to her friend and notorious Monroeville resident, Truman Capote, and chose to go in the other direction. Her neighbors respect her wishes and do not tell anyone where she lives.

To Kill a Mockingbird is unique in that it means something different to everyone who reads it. Murphy's diligent work pays off in a tremendous collection of interviews. This is a must-read for fans of the greatest American novel of all time.


This review can also be found at