I haven’t written a post on this blog for well over a month. Please accept my apologies. But life has intervened with the loss of our beloved dog, Scout, and I found it was all I could do to post on my main blog. This one had to wait.
But in the interim, we’ve lost two of my favorite writers: Harper Lee and Pat Conroy. Lee’s passing was not unexpected, but Conroy’s was. Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in February, he was gone by March. Too young. Too soon.
Both writers were artists. Their palettes were words. They created deep, richly detailed worlds that enveloped us and took us to another place. Both wrote of the South. Both Lee and Conroy loved books and reading. Mr. Conroy even wrote a book about that very subject; My Reading Life, which I’ve read and love. (Review here.)
Lee wrote one book. Conroy wrote many.
One book by Lee, you say? Yes. The book that came out last year was a draft, one that was rejected by her publisher. So, yes, one. That this ‘new’ book has been scrutinized and analyzed within an inch of its life amuses me no end. I see essays about the differences in the character of Atticus. I read pretentious essays about both books and whether they are an accurate depiction of racial inequality and, even more absurdly, racial inequality today. TKAM was published in 1960. It centered around a small Southern town in the thirties. The other was never meant to be published.
They are fiction.
So when I read someone slamming TKAM based on their perception of the very real problems in our world today – as if it was non-fiction – I lose patience. Then I just have to laugh.
Get over yourselves.
Conroy had an extremely troubled childhood. His father was career military and he beat his children. He beat his wife. That father was the basis for the character in The Great Santini. That Conroy grew up to be so poetic, so in love with words, so kind and good, was a testament to a mother who also loved words and to a high school teacher who instilled a love of literature in the somewhat lost young Conroy.
How lucky we are that he lived and wrote. How lucky we are that Harper Lee lived and wrote. And how grateful I am for their words.