Nonfiction Short Take: Mockingbird Songs – Wayne Flynt

This short, sweet remembrance of Harper Lee is by a professor who first began corresponding with Lee after the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird in 1960. It focuses on a period of letters between 2004 and 2009 and includes letter by Flynt, Harper Lee and her sister, Alice. We get Lee’s observations on all manner of topics, including the controversies surrounding the publication of Go Set a Watchman. Overall, the real pleasure here is Lee’s voice: She was noted for her sharp, witty correspondence and this is a privileged peek into the life of famously private writer.

“Southern historian Flynt shares his relationship with Harper Lee in a series of affectionate, playful, and mutually admiring letters. The correspondence between Flynt and Lee—known by her birth name, Nelle, to family and friends—documents the literary history of Alabama, the enduring appeal of To Kill a Mockingbird, and the vanishing art of letter writing….Flynt is a fluent writer in his own right, but the main rewards here lie in Lee’s tart observations on the modern world, sly sense of humor, and wonderful turns of phrase. Letters from Lee’s sister, Alice, round out the collection, which concludes with Flynt’s eulogy for Lee, a contemplation on the themes of her classic novel. Overall, the book provides a satisfying glimpse of a famously reserved literary great.”
Publishers Weekly

Mockingbird Songs: My Friendship with Harper Lee (9780062660084) by Wayne Flynt. $25.99 hardcover. 5/2/17 on sale.


The Intangible Rewards of a Life in Books

Harper Lee & KevinI saw a lovely article in Shelf Awareness this last week by an old Michigan bookselling pal.

I knew that Kevin Howell had a brief correspondence with Harper Lee a decade ago when he was an editor at PW. What I didn’t know was that correspondence blossomed into a friendship. It’s a sweet story and reminds me of the many small, unlikely—yet often profound–rewards of our profession.

On Sale Today: Go Set a Watchman

Like everyone in the country (except the dozen or so reviewers who wouldn’t wait), I’ll be opening my copy of Go Set a Watchman this morning. Given all the media hoopla this weekend, am I still excited?

Yes, I am.

Did I hope for more wisdom from the saintly Atticus? I confess I did. He’s the father an entire nation wanted. Am I ready to confront that father (and the history of our nation) with the eyes of an adult? I think so. Do I want the chance to read Ms. Lee’s lovely prose again, perfect or not? Heck yes.

Thanks to for pulling these lovely lines to start the day:

“A black hound loped down the streets in the distance, the monkey puzzles bristled silently on there corners of the square.”

“Dill’s efforts to disentangle himself with dignity were only moderately successful; he rose from the pool like a small fantastical water monster, covered with green slime and dripping sheet.”

“The hollering and high-mindedness over, all that would be left would be another shabby little affair a la the Birmingham country club set, and a self-constructed private Gehenna with the latest Westinghouse appliances. Hank didn’t deserve that.”

“The last time she skirmished with Alexandra was when her brother died. After Jem’s funeral, they were in the kitchen cleaning up the remains of the tribal banquets that are a part of dying in Maycomb.”

Go Set a Watchman (9780062409850) by Harper Lee. $27.99 hardcover. On sale today.


Go Set a Watchman: First Chapter Released!

GSaW_HC-E-bk LoresThe first chapter of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman was released on The Wall Street Journal this morning! Read it here:

And tonight PBS is airing a newly updated version of Emmy-winning filmmaker Mary McDonagh Murphy’s 2012 documentary, Harper Lee: Hey, Boo. In this updated film (being broadcast as Harper Lee: American Masters) McDonagh Murphy sifts through the facts and speculation surrounding Lee and both her novels. Insights and commentary from Oprah Winfrey, Roseanne Cash, Tom Brokaw, Rick Bragg, Anna Quindlen, Richard Russo, Wally Lamb, and others.

  • Watch a preview here and click here for local listings

The book goes on sale everywhere Tuesday, July 14, 2015. Reserve your copy at your favorite Indie bookstore.

Go Set a Watchman (9780062409850) by Harper Lee. $27.99 hardcover. 7/14/2015 on sale. 


Books We Love – Harper Lee Edition

“Books We Love” is a HarperCollins sales department e-blast that offers news on key Indie titles with links to web resources for social media efforts. (If you’d like to receive it directly you can sign up here.)

The blast that went out this week includes resources for the upcoming release of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman on July 14th. (Can’t wait!)


Publicity: Go Set a Watchman Audio Narrator Announced

Much hubbub on the Harper Lee beat this week when Reese Witherspoon was announced as the narrator for the forthcoming audio edition of Go Set a Watchman. If you want to pass the news on to your customers, here is some media-friendly artwork and a comment from Witherspoon:

As a Southerner, it is an honor and privilege to give voice to the Southern characters who inspired my childhood love of reading, Scout and Atticus Finch,” Witherspoon said in a statement. “I am eager for readers to be transported to a pivotal time in American history in the manner that only Harper Lee’s gorgeous prose can deliver.”

GSW Audio Cover

GSW Witherspoon Tile

Go Set a Watchman (9780062409904) by Harper Lee. 34.99 audio CD. 7/14/15 on sale.