|July 13, 1960, New York Times|
I've posted about Harper Lee before, but I was reminded of her again today when The New York Times tweeted an image of its original review of "To Kill a Mockingbird" from July 1960. It begins:
"ALL the magic and truth that might seem deceptive or exaggerated in a factual account of a small town unfold beautifully in a new first novel called 'To Kill a Mockingbird.' At a time when so many machine-tooled novels are simply documentaries disguised behind a few fictional changes, it is pleasing to recommend a book that shows what a novelist can accomplish with quite familiar situations."
This passage from the book itself has always been one of my favorites:
"Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first knew it. In rainy weather the streets turned to red slop; grass grew on the sidewalks, the courthouse sagged in the square. Somehow, it was hotter then: a black dog suffered on a summer’s day; bony mules hitched to Hoover carts flicked flied in the sweltering shade of the live oaks on the square. Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon, after their three-o’clock naps, and by night fall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum."
When I first met my wife Nancy, she mentioned the teacake ladies as one of her own favorite images. I knew right then my life would never be the same.