To Find a Mockingbird
My favorite novel is To Kill a Mockingbird. When I wrote my novel, I wanted to write a fictionalized version of growing up in Alabama. Since I knew that any attempt could only pale when compared to the ultimate story of growing up in Alabama, I wrote a story of growing up in China, in which I included some of the tales my father-in-law shared with me.
Today I began reading a wonderful book about Harper Lee, the author of Mockingbird. For fifty years, she has avoided being a public figure. But in 2001, Ms. Lee decided to open up to a reporter for The Chicago Tribune. They became friends and the reporter even moved into the house next door to the Lees for a year and a half. The result was The Mockingbird Next Door, a glimpse into Harper Lee and her life; including the connections between reality’s Monroeville, Alabama and fictions’s Maycomb, why Ms. Lee never wrote another novel, and her current life in southern Alabama.
My love of Mockingbird is hardly unique – it was recently named in a survey to be more influential on lives in America than any book other than the Bible. Marja Mills has pulled back a curtain that has been closed since 1960 – the curtain over the world of Scout, Jem, Dill, Atticus and Boo Radley. How gratifying to see that world still vibrant and alive – at least in our hearts and minds.