Aug 17, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 46 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, has long lived as a literary recluse, famously dodging publicity associated with her classic work. After Mockingbird’s publication, she never wrote another novel. The author’s decades of silence (she famously turned her back if anyone mentioned her work in her presence) were broken this year, when HarperCollins announced the discovery of the manuscript for another novel, Go Set a Watchman, in Harper Lee’s safe-deposit box.
Almost from the moment its existence was announced, the book has been the subject of controversy. Critics have questioned the timing of the book’s discovery and wondered if Lee, 89 years old and in poor health, was pressured into allowing its publication.
The manuscript and its history resemble the old Churchill quote: a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma—much to the consternation of the book-reading world.
Watchman tells the story of a grown-up Scout returning to Monroeville to visit her aging father after living in New York City for several years working as a writer. The trial of Tom Robinson, the central focus of Mockingbird, is mentioned only in passing. Shocking for fans of Lee’s first novel is the depiction of an aged Atticus who quietly supports segregation.
It’s possible some reviewer somewhere has been enraptured by the “new” novel, but from what The Scrapbook has seen, the reviews have run the gamut from awful to horrible. But at least the reviewers got paid. Ordinary fans have simply been distressed and appalled, with nothing to compensate them for their emotional pain. Till now.
Brilliant Books of Traverse City, Michigan, is offering dissatisfied customers a refund for Watchman. (The bookstore did not elaborate on how this differs from a return and whether it requires a receipt.) In a letter posted on its website, the bookstore called the novel “pure exploitation both of literary fans and a beloved American classic.” Instead of a sequel, they advise treating the book as an “academic insight” to be viewed with “intellectual curiosity and careful consideration.”
The Scrapbook seconds Brilliant Books’ advice, but would go a step further. Shouldn’t all books be approached with such curiosity and consideration?
2:13 PM, May 26, 2015 • By JERYL BIER
The speed with which the transgender agenda is moving may end up making the same-sex marriage debate look slow and deliberative by comparison. And now Scholastic, the children's publisher that specializes in distributing and selling books through schools, is poised to bring the issue to a middle school classroom near you. The medium is George, the story of an eight year old boy named George who desperately wants to be considered a girl.
10:05 AM, Feb 27, 2015 • By ADAM J. WHITE
Not long ago, Harvard Law School's Charles Ogletree told Politico that Eric Holder "is a race man":
Feb 9, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 21 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
The Scrapbook is pleased to note that Philip Anschutz, chairman and CEO of The Weekly Standard’s parent company, has just written a book that not only adds some authorial luster to our own ranks but makes a genuine contribution to our understanding of America.
10:42 AM, Oct 22, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Andrew Cuomo's book is a dud. The memoir, released last week, has sold 945 hardcover copies in its first week of sales, Amy Chozick of the New York Times reports.
"Andrew Cuomo's memoir sold 945 hardcovers in first week on shelves, according to BookScan. That's right, guys, 945 copies," writes Chozick on Twitter.
Hosted by Michael Graham.1:35 PM, Oct 8, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with senior writer Stephen F. Hayes on the latest on the airstrikes against ISIS and the efforts to discredit Leon Panetta after he criticized the White House on foreign policy in his new book.
A worthless initiative in Florida.
4:08 PM, Aug 25, 2014 • By ETHAN EPSTEIN
Florida Polytechnic “University” (it isn’t accredited) is making headlines this week by opening a bookless library. Instead of checking out traditional codex books, students will be forced to read class material on tablets, e-readers, and/or laptops. According to the middle-aged librarians and bureaucrats who run the school, a bookless library will appeal to the youth.
8:53 AM, Aug 19, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Erica Payne, founder and president of the left-wing Agenda Project, is encouraging people to deface the cover of Paul Ryan's new book, which is hitting shelves today.
"Hi Daniel," Payne writes in an email. "Just a heads up, Paul Ryan's new book comes out today and his publisher is furious! It turns out that they accidentally shipped it with the wrong cover, and they need your help to make things right.
11:50 AM, Aug 3, 2014 • By FRED BARNES
Craig Shirley, a prominent biographer of Ronald Reagan, has accused historian Rick Perlstein of plagiarism in his new book, The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan. Shirley has cited 45 instances in which he says Perlstein uses information and passages from his 2004 book, Reagan’s Revolution: The Untold Story of the Campaign That Started It All, without proper attribution.
11:26 AM, Jul 17, 2014 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
Our affable colleague, senior editor Victorino Matus, is famous for his big head, big heart, big appetite—and encyclopedic knowledge of food, drink, the consumption of same, contemporary German politics, and the sociology of his native New Jersey.