Go get on Google: A guide for mystified readers of Go Set a Watchman

A good friend bought me Go Set a Watchman for my birthday, and I’ve been making my way through it – slowly. The reason for the less-than-brisk pace: it isn’t so that I can savour the quality of the prose and the turns of phrase: frankly, the prose is no more than serviceable and the turns of phrase are often clichés.

It’s just that, this being the first draft of the book which many, many drafts later became To Kill a Mockingbird, and having been written in the mid-‘50s, it contains references to then-current events and examples of then-popular culture which, all these years later, have receded into the mists of time. Quite often, while making my way through the book, I have been stopped dead by a reference to something that was probably clear as day (an example of the sort of cliché Harper Lee uses here) back in 1955 but which in 2015 is entirely cryptic, necessitating a quick trip to Google for clarification.

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  • Shebel

    Try reading the ‘Watchtower”—- Lottsa Revelations in there—-

    It just nevah gets boring.

    • Canadian

      They still publish that?

    • Jim Fox

      Used up all my free copies as toilet paper…

  • Justin St.Denis

    GO SET A WATCHMAN is indeed a bit of a rough ride. And it certainly will nevrr be included in anyone’s version of The Essential American Literary Canon. But then, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD isn’t a great literary accomplishment, either. It was more of a social accomplishment in terms of what the effects of its publication were. Harper Lee is no Eudora Welty. Lee is a speck of sand while Welty is a monumental rock of American literature.

    • Clausewitz

      If I can get through the Silmarrilion hell I can get through anything.

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      • Justin St.Denis

        You make an excellent point.