It’s All About Harper Lee Today in Monroeville

A full read of Go Set a Watchman in the Old Monroe County Courthouse and much more.

MonroeJournal_07_14The headline on the front page of weekly newspaper The Monroe Journal frames a picture of Harper Lee and President George W. Bush, taken in 2007. At the museum replica of the Old Monroe County Courthouse made famous by To Kill a Mockingbird, some 250 fans are currently engaged in an eight-hour public reading of Go Set a Watchman. The event is being live-streamed here.

It’s all part of the biggest story to hit Monroeville, Ala., in years. Alabama Media Group columnist Kelly Kacek got into the literary spirit with her scene-setting lede:

As the sun began to set, a single “bong” of the bell in the old courthouse startled a songbird perched on the clock tower, causing it to flutter wildly from its perch before resettling. Soon, several dozen of the tiny birds flocked to the roof of the iconic building in downtown Monroeville, as if they understood something exciting was about to happen in the small town.

They weren’t mockingbirds – that would be too Southern Gothic – but the chirpy little birds were among the few living beings on the town square before night fell on Monday.

On the website of Monroeville’s Ol’ Curiosities & Book Shoppe, all three front-page slides relate to Lee. The store was handing out certificates of location-authenticity with copies of Go Set a Watchman being sold at the stroke of midnight. Meanwhile, fellow Southern author Mark Childress has shared some colorful local memories via Reuters:

I was born in Monroeville, Alabama, three years before Harper Lee published To Kill a Mockingbird. Although we moved away when I was a small child, my family returned often to visit my parents’ best friends, who lived two doors down from the famous author.

As a child I knew “Miss Nelle” as the slightly cranky neighbor lady down the block. We children were instructed not to bother her, as she was said to be trying to write her second book.

[Image via:]