So you can read my books

Saturday, July 25, 2015


I awoke from a deep sleep to a horrible bellowing noise, 

followed by the sound of a book being angrily tossed down,

 followed by a heavy sigh as it was picked up again,

Ever try to sleep while a ghost is grumbling in the chair next to you?  

My kitten, Midnight, had burrowed completely under the pillow I place out for him on my bed.

Mark sighed, "Poor Jem is dead ...

 and I reckon he is a mite glad of that fact.  

Why, I suspect he took one look at these pages and decided Dead was the thing to be."

He shook his head at me, 

"I can imagine Jem, Boo Radley and Dill are all off somewhere now 

toasting marshmallows by a campfire in the night and thanking the stars that they are no part of this train wreck.

 “Look,” Jem is saying, “this book includes the phrase ‘she would have pondered over the meaninglessness of silent, austere beauty’ ... but not as a joke. 

Why is this being published? 

It’s not even  E. L. James ... although Scout's Uncle Jack slaps her in the face and slaps us with page after page of justifying racism.”

"To make money?" I helpfully supplied. 

He shot me a look that Custer must have grown very tired of before his last haircut.

I yawned, "So what you are saying is Go Set a Watchman is bad?" 

Mark made a face.  "Oh, there's a great book hiding deep within these pages ... it's called To Kill A Mockingbird,"

"Oh, you mean it's not a sequel?"

"No, son, nor a prequel.  It's a rough draft.  

And no self-respecting fool shows his rough draft anymore than he'd parade around in his long-johns!"

I sighed, "Most great books are preceded by a bad one, sir."

"Course they are!  And you hide that first book away like poor old Mrs. Bates in that hotel attic."

Mark flipped the pages in front of him. 

 "Why, Roland, I've a taken a magnifying glass to the first 100 pages and still can't find nary a clue of a plot.  I don't think even Holmes could."

Mark blew out a smoke ring.  "And poor old Calpurnia ... what a sad difference from Mockingbird --

 all radicalized by the NAACP.  Grown up Scout thinks of her: 

 “She sat there in front of me and she didn’t see me, she saw white folks. She raised me, and she doesn’t care.”

Mark chuckled, "That's all right, Calpurnia ... I was reading her, and I didn't much care for her neither."

 He shook his head.  

"I admit grown up Scout takes a mite getting used to.  I swear she goes on and on about the drip, drip, drip of her spilled ice cream until I wanted to do a Uncle Jack on her face!"

Mark sighed, "And then she wheels on poor Atticus, crying, 'You did that!  You did that as sure as you were sitting there."

Mark rolled his eyes, "That's right, you terrible ogre, Atticus, you made your grown daughter spill her ice cream."

"It's really that bad?" I said.

"Worse, son.  Why when she gets to pontificating about Mr. Stone and setting a watchman to tell her what's right and wrong, to tell her what's the meaning of the faces she sees, to lead her by the hand in life ...."

Mark rubbed his face angrily, "I nearly set fire to the blamed book, and then, I remembered the Nazis and the librarians who did that to Huck Finn."

He shook the book as if it were in need of fluffing.  

"The publishers knew this was bad ... and that it would sell a million copies.  Money was the only reason it was put out."

Mark grumbled, "Watchman just ain't bad, son, it is the Jar Jar Binks of good literature!"

The ghost of Mark Twain thanks Alexandra Petri of the ComPost blog for inspiration.


  1. Yeah. They also published that God awful 50 Shades, and look what happened there.
    What I come up with is that publishers (and agents) just want to make money. PERIOD.

    1. Sigh. You're right: only profits count for them. I understand publishing is a business ... but even in business you should have standards, right?

  2. I have not purchased the book and don't intend to. When it lands in the thrift store for a quarter, I'll pick it up. He who has the gold rules. Such a shame, it seems our whole country's moral fiber is so sparse. The book should not have been printed.
    I doubt anything I write will merit this. but I have been using the delete button and trashcan more. They should have thrown it away a long time ago.

    1. I believe the publisher and agent took advantage of Miss Lee being in a home for assisted living to print this first draft that for decades she had refused to be published. Very sad indeed.

      I look around and what was once considered terrible is now not just accepted but lauded. Strange times, huh?

  3. Love the comparison of Watchman to Jar Jar Binks. There seems to be a justifiably growing scandal over this book and that it is indeed a bad early draft and should never have seen the light of day. An editorial in the New York Times calls this one of the epic money grabs in the history of American publishing. So sad that Harper Lee was likely suffering from some dementia when she agreed to publish it.

    1. I'll have to check out that New York Times review. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. :-)

      It is unseemly for an agent or a publisher (or both) to smear Harper Lee's memory and reputation by bringing this early, badly written draft to ride on Mockingbird's justly earned reputation. Sad day indeed. :-(

  4. Sadly, that's why some books are published. Because they'll make money. Not that anyone really believed Snookie wrote a book with actual sentences and everything.

    1. The publisher's guessed wrong about Snooki's book (if she even wrote it).

      It was not a sales success, selling approximately 9,000 copies within its first month of release,

      during which it accumulated 16 one-star customer reviews on

      One publishing executive said that the book sold poorly because "rather than a tell-all, it was disguised as a novel.

      The ghost of Mark Twain said it was poorly disguised as prose, too! :-)

  5. Jem is dead? JEM IS DEAD? I haven't ordered that book and don't think I will.


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