Literary Quote of the Month

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Sunday Salon Celebrates To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Happy Anniversary to To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee! It's been 50 years since Scout, Atticus & Boo Radley made their first appearance in the pages of To Kill a Mockingbird, and there are celebrations galore surrounding the beloved classic book that still sells almost a million copies a year!

Have you read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee by Harper Lee? To Kill a Mockingbird is told through the eyes of young Scout Finch, a tomboy with a good head on her shoulders and a wisdom that seems beyond her years. Set in the deep south during the Great Depression, the story gives us a wonderful glimpse into the hardships and attitudes of that time period. Scout shares the story with her brother Jem, their friend Dill, and their father, Atticus, a widower and a lawyer, who instills in his children the moral virtues of right & wrong, and his belief that everyone is created equal. What should be another lazy summer of childhood adventures for Scout, Jem and their new friend Dill, becomes a heated bed of racial tension when Tom Robinson, a black man, is accused of raping Mayella Ewell, a young white woman. Atticus Finch takes the case to defend Tom Robinson and the lives of Atticus, Scout and Jem are changed forever. The writing is wonderful, and as fresh as it was 50 years ago. My reading group read this a few years ago and everyone just loved it! Although not everyone loves To Kill a Mockingbird - it's one of the most frequently challenged books, controversial due to it's portrayal of racial themes, and for its' discussion of rape.

One of the newest books to come out recently is Scout, Atticus & Boo: A Celebration of Fifty Years of To Kill a Mockingbird by Mary McDonagh Murphy. Mary is an independent film writer & producer, whose love of To Kill a Mockingbird and admiration of Harper Lee led her to produce her documentary HEY, BOO: HARPER LEE AND TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Scout, Atticus & Boo: A Celebration of Fifty Years of To Kill a Mockingbird is the book that compliments the documentary. Here's what the publishers write...
To mark the fiftieth anniversary of To Kill a Mockingbird, Mary McDonagh Murphy reviews its history and examines how the novel has left its mark on a broad range of novelists, historians, journalists, and artist. In compelling interviews, Anna Quindlen, Tomw Brokaw, Oprah Winfrey... and others reflect on when they first read the novel, what it means to them- then and now- and how it has affected their lives and careers. Harper Lee has not given an interview since 1964, but Murphy's reporting, research, and rare interviews with the author's sister and friends stitch together a b
rief history of how the novel, as well as the acclaimed 1962 move came to be. I'm very interested to read the history of the novel, and I'm sure Mary's background in film making helps her paint a vivid and thorough picture.

What celebration of To Kill a Mockingbird would be complete without acknowledging the author herself! Harper Lee's won the Pulitzer Prize for To Kill a Mockingbird in 1961. Unfortunately it's the only book she ever published. There have been rumors over the years that Harper Lee wrote her childhood friend Truman Capote's book, In Cold Blood, due to her heavy involvement in the research, but we'll never know... Harper Lee leads a life away from the spotlight, rarely granting interviews. We may be able to get a glimpse into the woman behind the book in Mockingbird, a Portrait of Harper Lee by Charles J. Shields. Charles Shields was an English teacher whose constant questions about Harper Lee from his students motivated him to find out about her life while the people from her life were still with us. Through "600 hundred interviews and other sorts of communication with Harper Lee's friends, associates, and former classmates. It's also the product of four years of research into the papers of her friend Truman Capote, which include Lee's notes for his book In Cold Blood, the papers of Lee's literary agent; the archives of national and local librariesl and hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles." Charles J. Shields has given us something to satisfy our desire to know a little more about the author who gave us the feisty little girl named Scott.

You can find out about celebrations around the country at the To Kill a Mockingbird 50th Anniversary site. Celebrations are going on until September. You can find out more about Mary McDonagh Murphy's documentary celebrating To Kill a Mockingbird and see a clip of the documentary at Mary Murphy & Co. HarperCollins is having a GIVEAWAY for a To Kill A Mockingbird Prize pack which includes a copy of the Hardcover Slipcased edition of To Kill a Mockingbird(TKAM), a copy of the trade paperback of TKAM, a DVD of the movie version of TKAM, and a copy of Scott, Atticus and Boo by Mary McDonagh Murphy. You can see all the details at To Kill a Mockingbird 50th Celebration.

How are you celebrating the 50th Anniversary of To Kill a Mockingbird? I'm going to listen to the audiobook version of To Kill A Mockingbird narrated by Sissy Spacek. It won an audie for best classic audiobook in 2007, and I heard that Sissy Spacek's voice is perfect to be the voice of Scout Finch. In the meantime, remember...

"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." ... Atticus Finch


Book Bird Dog said...

I've read the book and seen the movie twice. A masterpiece, for sure :)

Meg said...

I love this book. I still remember feeling incensed when we had to read it for class and my teacher announced to everyone that it was a pretty dull book,but we had to read it because it was part of the curriculum ...

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Harvee!
I loved the book and movie too! A true classic!

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Meg!
Dull book?! Wow, I guess your teacher didn't think much of it, but I'm glad you loved it anyway!! I never had to read To Kill a Mockingbird for class... maybe my teacher didn't even think it was worth it force it on us! :-)

Anonymous said...

It's a favorite of mine. We own the dvd too. Wonderful movie. I think I'll celebrate by tracking down the audio book. I've heard so many good things about it. Have a great week, Suzanne!

Sarah at SmallWorld said...

My favorite book ever! I'm celebrating over at my blog, too.

Laurel-Rain Snow said...

I am embarrassed to admit that I haven't read this's long been a book I've intended to read. Especially since I now have the biography Mockingbird on my stacks.

So here's how I'm going to celebrate: I will beg, borrow, or—well, not steal!—a copy (probably the library will have long waiting lists); and in the meantime, I just went into my room with the largest TBR stacks and pulled Mockingbird out. It's now sitting in my office, ready for me to jump into!

Thanks for sharing this great celebration with us.

Here's my salon:

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Bookfanmary!
I love the movie too! I gave away a copy at our book club meeting raffle when we read the book. I didn't win, so I think I'll see about catching it on TV. There should be some station televising it today...

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi SmallWorld at Home!
I loved your post today about To Kill a Mockingbird! Thanks for stopping by and letting me know about the celebration you're having over at your wonderful blog!

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Laurel!
No need to feel embarrassed, I never read To Kill a Mockingbird before we chose it as a book club read a couple years back. One of the best things about that book club meeting was that someone made the Lane Cake that was in the book! It was amazing! It took "him", yes I said him, 2 days to put that cake together! We've been trying to entice him to make it again ever since! :-)

carla said...

Wonderful review Suzanne!
I have not read the book nor seen the movie. But I am so pleased to see all the celebrations to for the 50 years.
I was hoping Wilbor/Overdrive Audio would have a copy of the audio book but guess not (as a library checkout). Bummer, have to look elsewhere.

Eileen Dreyer said...

Hands down, IMO, the finest piece of American literature. And the best screen adaptation. There just isn't another scene in movies like the one when Atticus is leaving the courtroom and the black minister says to his daughter, "Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father is passing." Oh, to deserve that kind of tribute.

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