Are you a Harper Lee groupie like me? If so, I have a book for you. – Why To Kill A Mockingbird Matters (2018) by Tom Santopietro.
First, let me begin by saying I never read To Kill a Mockingbird! Fact is, I was never much of a reader through my public school and college years. I read enough to answer the questions at the of the chapter, but I never learned to love reading.
But…I did see the movie To Kill a Mockingbird (1962). That must count for something! I loved the film that was nominated for an Academy Award for best picture (but lost to Lawrence of Arabia). Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch won the Oscar for best actor. In fact, in the midst of writing this blog, Hannah and I watched the film one more time. It stands up well as an inspirational tale of one man’s courage.
It was a little odd what got me interested in Why To Kill A Mockingbird Matters (2018) in the first place; it was a recent negative review in the New York Times Book Review section. Click here for Roxane Gay’s unimpressed review.
So why would I read a book with a lousy review? Because the reviewer let me know that the book is all about the backstory; of Harper Lee herself, the writing and publishing of the book, how the movie came to be, and what happened to the actors and Harper Lee herself since 1962. I love me a good backstory.
Spencer Tracy was Harper Lee’s choice to play Atticus Finch in the film version of Mockingbird. Unfortunately, he was filming at the time and couldn’t commit. Fortunately, Gregory Peck was available.
Santopietero sums up why Gregory Peck had such appeal to many of us, … thanks to the role of Atticus Finch, in the public’s eye Peck had become not just a movie hero but also the personification of the quintessential American: the man his fellow citizens liked to think reflected not just their country but their own very best selves – a champion of the the underdog.
Well, I am happy to report that I righted the wrong in paragraph two and read To Kill A Mockingbird cover to cover a few weeks back. By the way, the film is a quite faithful to Harper’s book. Not getting enough, I read Critical Insights: To Kill a Mockingbird and watched both two documentaries: Hey Boo: Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird and Our Mockingbird .
And the fruit of this infatuation is that Hannah and I on the road again, this time to southern Alabama! Next month (October 2018), we fly into Atlanta and work our way to Monroeville, Alabama, the hometown of Harper Lee. You see, Monroeville was the model for Maycomb, the setting of the novel. The actual courthouse which holds a Mockingbird museum will be the centerpiece of our adventure.