It's The Summer Of To Kill A Mockingbird

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Harper Lee's classic children's book. And although To Kill a Mockingbird has a famously private author, the book's birthday shall be acknowledged!

Says the NY Times,

In Santa Cruz, Calif., volunteers will re-enact every word and movement in the famous courtroom scene. In Monroeville, Ala., residents dressed in 1930s garb will read aloud from memorable passages. In Rhinebeck, N.Y., Oblong Books will host a party with Mocktails and recorded music by the indie band the Boo Radleys.

As the piece continues, there are more than 50 events planned for the summer — and that's not counting the less well-organized ones! — with a special concentration in the author's home-town of Monroeville, AL. There are also several new editions of the book and a spate of PR from publisher Harper-Collins.

Harper Lee is 84 and very much alive. But she remains very much elusive, too, having foresworn publicity decades ago. What she'd make of the PR blitz is impossible to say, just as it's hard to know whether she was bemused, amused or irritated by being portrayed in the past decade by both Katherine Keener and Sandra Bullock. While she surfaced in 2007 to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, no one thinks she's planning a surprise appearance to commemorate her book's anniversary. After all, she is on record in her belief that books should speak for themselves and that authors should leave face-time to celebrities. In this, it's hard not to think of two other public figures: professional recluse J.D. Salinger, of course, and also Banksy. While the street artist may seem an unlikely corollary, I was reminded of a recent quote of his: "I don't know why people are so keen to put the details of their private life in public; they forget that invisibility is a superpower." Far from seeming to wish to incur supernatural status, Lee has always, as Wally Lamb points out to the Times, seemed more akin to the mysterious Boo Radley, a character who bestows gifts anonymously — but is available to save children when it really matters. In that spirit, perhaps the best tribute to Ms. Lee would be a re-reading of the novel, or even a screening of the film, or both. And incidentally, the tie-shaped cakes are hitting the shelves right about now. And with that in mind, there's maybe no better book for Father's Day.


A Classic Turns 50, And Parties Are Planned
[NY Times]