At some point we’ve got to tell these people to fuck off, seriously

Harper Lee has died. And it’s entirely fair to say that it wasn’t in fact the greatest novel ever. But this?

Some critics have called the book naive and sentimental, whether dismissing the Ku Klux Klan as a minor nuisance in Maycomb or advocating change through personal persuasion rather than collective action. The novel was also considered patronizing for highlighting the bravery of a white man on behalf of blacks.

Fuck off honey buns, you, your politics and the horse they both rode in on.

15 thoughts on “At some point we’ve got to tell these people to fuck off, seriously”

  1. I read To Kill a Mocking Bird as a child and thought it brilliant. The film too was enchanting. In his demeanour, Atticus Finch reminded me of my father.

    Many, many years later I decided to read the book again. The more I read the more I thought “what the fuck, this isn’t how I remember it at all. This is rubbish.” Had my memories been clouded by a dramatic change made by the film makers?

    No, I’d got titles muddled in my head and had bought a copy of Catcher in the Rye. Which really is self indulgent whiny shit. So I threw the book away and bought a copy of To Kill a Mocking Bird. And it was as good as I remembered.

  2. I remember Catcher in the Rye as hilarious. I’ve not read the other one. I got my fill of American do-gooding sentimentality by watching Henry Fonda in Twelve Angry Men. What tripe that was.

  3. So Much For Subtlety

    The Social Justice Warriors are eating each other. She was not sufficiently radical for the more radical generation that followed. Not to mention we are not allowed to doubt women when they make accusations of rape any more – she was clearly a rape-enabler. However, and note how rare it is for me to agree with these people, they do have a point.

    Lee was the daughter of a newspaper man, a lawyer and a law maker. In her book the Upper Middle class lawyers and judges behave well. The problems are because of the poor White trash. She does not point out that Segregation was the work of lawyers, judges and law makers just like her father. Just like Atticus Finch. She just blames poor White hatred. What Lee did was write a book to draw a clear distinction between Good Middle Class Whites like her and her father, and Bad redneck Whites. She was sucking up to North-Eastern elites by saying she and her father were like them! She was throwing her fellow, but poorer, White southerners to the wolves in an effort to win approval of the sort of people who read the New York Times.

    And it worked. They showered her with praise and money. Her book is on all sorts of reading lists.

    You only have to look how the book ends. She would have known that in the normal course of events, a case like this could be appealed. To a Court full of people like her father and with a lot fewer red necks. A Black rapist would not be likely to win on appeal in a Court full of people like Atticus Finch or her father. So she has him attempt to escape and get shot. How convenient that was.

    It is not a bad book. But it is not an honest one either.

  4. SMFS makes some good points: what was radical and daring in the 60’s is now patronising and racist. Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner? wouldn’t win any awards if it was made today, either.

    Is To Kill A Mockingbird a great book? I don’t know. It’s hard to honestly judge something you were forced to read at school. I don’t think it caught on because it was a great book though. It caught on because it was a fable in tune with its time.

    The meek and mild black victim, almost a Magic Negro in his saintly innocence. The heroic white upper middle class activist lawyer. The tobacco-spitting white Southern redneck conservative racists.

    That was a powerful narrative in its day, particularly to the sort of people who’d have little or no social interaction with black folks. Unless they were novelty guests at a swanky Manhattan soiree in honour of the Black Panthers.

    Narratives don’t need to be true to be effective. From a plausibility point of view, the story of TKAM is bollocks on stilts, of course. But powerful.

  5. So Much For Subtlety

    Steve – “The meek and mild black victim, almost a Magic Negro in his saintly innocence. The heroic white upper middle class activist lawyer. The tobacco-spitting white Southern redneck conservative racists.”

    And so the book more or less defined a Good White – someone who is willing to betray poor Whites in order to win the good graces of metropolitan elites. Thus we have Rusty who doesn’t give a damn how many working class White girls are gang raped as long as he can signal his virtue by distancing himself from other Whites and leaving the poor to their fate.

    But just as the Left united to oppose the Tsar, before splitting for the Marxists to destroy the Liberals, before the Marxist-Leninists split from the SRs and murdered them all, before the Stalinists split from the Trots and murdered them all as well, and then the Stalinists turned on each other, ideological appeasement does not work. Rusty may think he stands with the Left in being a good person, but they will re-define ever more narrowly what it means to be a Good White until he too is purged. Or he is applauding a six hour speech by the Ultimate Leader with tears running down his cheeks.

    The only solution is to defend the Tsar and refuse to even begin going down that path.

    Umberto Eco has also died. He too wrote a good book that the metropolitan elites liked – he was a Good Catholic if you like. But he won’t get the praise that Lee will.

  6. I read To Kill a Mockingbird as an adult having not done it at school and after hearing all the lefty praise, and was blown away by how good it was. Even if you set aside the race element and SMFS’s objections, it is still a beautiful book and can be read as a children’s adventure story in some ways. There are at least two other subplots which are as entertaining if not as well discussed as the main theme, particularly the transformation of the boy from somebody who believes good will always prevail to somebody who realized the world doesn’t always work like that (forget whether the court case was realistic or not, the betrayal the boy felt was well done). I think it was that multiple themes were fitted into a relatively short book, and that it was well-written, is what gives it its wide appeal as much as the main theme appealing to lefty teachers.

    I really was impressed by how good it was. Funnily enough, I was also impressed by how good <Gone with the Wind was.

  7. Exactly what TimN said. Better and more concise than I would have.

    I read TKAM about 9 months ago for the first time and absolutely couldn’t wait for the sequel, which was released last August. Didn’t make it past about page 30. Maybe I’ll enjoy it more when I’m older 🙂

    I really, really enjoyed A Painted House by John Grisham though. Not the usual legal thriller, it’s a very evocative novel set in 1950’s rural America.

  8. “No, I’d got titles muddled in my head and had bought a copy of Catcher in the Rye. Which really is self indulgent whiny shit.”

    I think you have to read it at the same time that you want your bedroom painted black and listen to nothing but Joy Division. I read it at 25 and fucking hated it.

  9. off topic but I’m an avid book reader and one day looked at my bookshelf and wondered how many of them I’d ever read again. Hardly any. And lending books to other people is fraught with the danger of either not getting it back or getting in back covered in ketchup. So I’ve adopted a motto of ‘never lend a book’. The occasional one I might read again I keep and the rest I just pass on to someone else I think might like to read it. I recommend this.

    Trouble is, if you got caught up in the hype and bought a Dan Brown book you can’t get rid of the fucker as no one wants it. Even charity shops won’t accept the Davinci Code any more as they already have 78 copies of it. The last place I worked has a ‘donate a book, take a book’ shelf and it was slowly filling up with the book until someone discovered it made a good stand for your computer monitor screen.

  10. Trouble is, if you got caught up in the hype and bought a Dan Brown book you can’t get rid of the fucker as no one wants it.

    It’s not always bad to burn a book. Those would make good kindling.

  11. What BiW says… Dan Browns, Konsaliks, and more of that ilk get regularly donated to Scouting here. They make great firestarters.

  12. Had to read it at school for ‘O’ levels. It was ok as an idealistic teen/ kids story, very much of it’s time.

  13. ‘Some critics’ = Author hopes that he/she can make this offhand remark without having to justify it by actually naming some names.

    ‘The novel was also considered’ = Use of passive voice to project personal ideological dogma, without risking the combination of ridicule and contempt that would come from writing ‘I also consider …’

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