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Another take on Lee novel

Adam Gopnik, one of The New Yorker's most astute and erudite writers, gives us one of the best critiques I have read on Harper Lee's "Go Set a Watchman," the famed novelist's newly released literary oddity.

Much has been said about Lee, who is now in a nursing home, and "Watchman," most of it not repeatable or even smart.

Gopnik, on the other hand, breaks down why Atticus Finch might actually fit in the new role ascribed to him in "Watchman." His knowledge about Southern history is impressive, his argument persuasive.

He also shows why it is unlikely that "Watchman" was intended to be published as we now know it, as the full and complete work of an artist who knew what she was doing.

Gopnik speculates, with something bordering on certainty, that the book is a revised first draft of "To Kill a Mockingbird," never intended by the author to see the light of day.

Buy a New Yorker July 27 edition. His piece alone is worth the price of admission.


I may have to eat my words.

Those would be words that I wrote in this space last week about the book just published by Harper Lee, "Go Set a Watchman."

I wrote that I would not read the book. I'm happy with Atticus Finch the way he was portrayed in her first book, "To Kill a Mockingbird."

More than that, though, I am unsettled by the story about how the new Lee novel got itself into the hands of publishers.

I'm not at all sure she wanted the book to see the light of day. I mean, why didn't she publish it when she had the time and energy?

So, here we are in an uncomfortable position. That's because Random House is publishing a newly found book by Dr. Seuss called "What Pet Should I Get?"

The beloved author of hundreds of children's books never got "What Pet Should I Get?" into the hands of publishers in his lifetime. Maria Russo, writing a review in the New York Times Book Review, speculates on why that is the case.

Based on the precedent I set on the Harper Lee book, I should announce that I will also not read "What Pet Should I Get?" And perhaps I won't.



But, I DO have a new grandson ...

To catch a plagiarist

Data nerds are heading in the right direction as they develop programs to detect telltale clues to a writer's works.

A story in a recent edition of The Wall Street Journal tells about two Polish researchers who have used their software to analyze the words and style used by Harper Lee in both To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman, her novel just released.

They assert that their study confirms she wrote both of them. Truman Capote did not. Nor did some third-party editor.

That's an interesting bit of information.

What's intriguing, though, is the idea that such software might be made available to professors so they could run works by their students through the algorithmic filters and see whether a student has plagiarized something turned in as original.

Plagiarism is a huge problem created by high-tech progress. Maybe high-tech progress could move in the direction of stopping plagiarism.

Late-night literature

I'm never up past 9:30 at night, no matter what.

So, I've never watched a single iteration of "Late Night with Seth Meyers." I don't even know who Seth Meyers is, and if I've seen him in movies or on TV, I wouldn't know it, unless he starred in some episode of Chopped or Top Chef or Drive-ins, Diners and Dives or maybe Pawn Stars or American Pickers.

Even so, now I see where Seth Meyers and I have something in common: We both like literary fiction.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that "Late Night with Seth Meyers" sometimes features authors of literary fiction, people who these days have no forum at all since the demise of Oprah's daytime show.

Meyers has had all sorts of authors on the show to talk about their work, and it's not to put them down or make fun of them. It's to take them and their work seriously.

Maybe I'll stay up for that. I feel like he needs the moral support.

The reader as coach

I don't follow college basketball, so were it not for a sharp-eyed volunteer I may never have read about the coach of the Golden State Warriors.

Seems that Steve Kerr is not your usual coach. Yeah, he likes to win. Yeah, he pushes his players hard. Yeah, he talks tough.

But, he is also a reader, and not just of bios about other famous coaches.

Kerr reads all kinds of stuff, from articles in The Atlantic, to New Yorker profiles, to essays in the Economist.

I figure this must be unusual for a college coach because Kerr's reading habits were the subject of a feature story that appeared in The Wall Street Journal in mid-May.

The story by Ben Cohen says that Kerr is so proud of his reading that his PR staff keeps track of what he reads.


That sounds a little weird to me.

But, I guess ... whatever it takes to keep your name out front.

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