Why I Refuse to Read Go Set a Watchman


I reacted first to the controversy around Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman, from a writer’s perspective: we, of all people, shouldn’t care that a fictional character appears as a heroic crusader against injustice in one book, and as a racist in another. We should know better than anyone about drafts, and about how characters change. Even characters like Atticus Finch, who had been forever etched into our hearts (or so we thought) as the decent, brave white southern lawyer who acts on principle to help an unjustly accused black man.

I scolded my friends to this effect on Facebook, but it was in the most diplomatic version I could craft of my nearly allergic reaction to everyone’s tears over this tarnishing of Finch’s name. The actual phrase in my head as I watched the crepe being hung, was: Oh, for God’s sake everyone, grow up!

It’s quite amazing what…

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