This weekend I read that it was the 50th anniversary of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” 50th! Wow. Harper Lee is currently 84, which means she wrote Mockingbird when she was only 34. Writing a book that stuck in the minds of millions of Americans at that age is a rather impressive feat, and its endurance is another.
There were articles in the Washington Post and New York Times this weekend about Mockingbird’s anniversary and also about Monroeville, the tiny Alabama town where Lee is from. Just shy of 7000 people, it’s pretty amazing that both Harper Lee and Truman Capote came from Monroeville. If I ever go there I am going to bathe in absolutely any body of water I can find – puddle, kitchen sink. There just has to be genius in that water.
Weirdly, a lot of my friends and I seem to be on a southern kick lately. I think it’s living smack dab on the Mason-Dixon line that makes you want to grasp for a little cultural identity. It’s hard to be from a place where our charm comes in the form of shady politicians who do the naked pretzel with anything that wiggles. We want some of that southern charm, or northern charisma – anything! So when my friend Lauren (of vaginal refreshing spray fame), came back from Charleston, South Carolina this weekend singing Dixie and ready to move down river, it made me think about southern writers and Harper Lee.
Lauren is from Ohio and all she could talk about was the splendors of the south. “Like Venice in America!” she declared. But to me, so much of that charm is delivered on paper, as I have seen very little of the south that does not come to me in book or magazine form. So here’s to Lee, who brought the south up to me when I was busy being a hormonal high schooler. I can’t think of better required reading.