Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Don't Expect 'Mockingbird' Update to Be Upbeat

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Don't Expect 'Mockingbird' Update to Be Upbeat

Article excerpt

The literary world is abuzz that the characters of Harper Lee's acclaimed "To Kill a Mockingbird" will be revisited in a new book this summer.

Fans of the classic novel and wonderful film are wondering where the story goes, as Scout Finch returns to sleepy little Maycomb, Ala., from New York City as a young woman in the 1950s. We're guessing her narration will go something like this:

It had been six long years since I'd been home to see my dear beloved father, Atticus. Calpurnia had warned me of the changes, back before she'd quit serving as his maid after two months without being paid. Still, I barely recognized the tattered, stubbly- bearded shell of a man sitting in the porch rocker when I lugged my suitcase up the creaking steps.

"Go 'way. Ain't buying nothing from no sales woman," he rasped, before taking a drink from an unmarked bottle and coughing.

"Atticus, it's me, Scout. Don't you recognize your own daughter?" I said, rushing to hug him before recoiling from the odor.

"Scout, of course! How's my New York gal? You should have told me you were coming - I'd have taken a bath this week."

Times in the legal trade had been hard for Atticus since losing the Tom Robinson case, but I never realized - consumed far from home by my own big-city dalliances with writing, jazz clubs, lesbianism and heroin - that things had gotten this bad. Ordinarily, at 11 a.m. on a weekday, he would have been at his office or the courthouse instead of boozing himself into a stupor at home.

"No work today, Atticus?"

He snorted.

"Ha, yes, that's me, the noble legal scholar. You know what they say 'round the county, Scout: 'You want a lawyer with lots of five- dollar words and high-minded speeches, hire Atticus Finch. You want someone who'll win your case, hire anyone but.' "

If they were giving out prizes for self-pity at the Maycomb County Fair, Atticus would have built a pretty fine collection of blue ribbons in the past couple decades. And if he didn't have so much stupid pride to start, he'd have sought help long ago from U.S. Sen. Boo Radley.

The money men of the state had happily run Boo for office, as someone they could control, after he became a hero for rescuing me and Jem from Bob Ewell's knife. …

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