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tv   Inside Story  Al Jazeera  February 10, 2015 6:30am-7:01am EST

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miles is finishing on the trail in front of us 160 kilometer and a 300 and 400 race and the racers will keep going for several more days and at the end of 10-12 days the 690 kilometer race is the event that is the longest, the toughest the coldest. ♪ hello, i'm ray suarez, harper lee published one novel "to kill a mockingbird." it's been printed millions of times around the world in the past 50 years. now it turns out lee had another book in her, and it comes out this summer. continuing the story of scout, sttacus finch, boo radially and tom robinson who came to life in the hollywood classic. months away from its release, it's
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a best seller. time to make a killing for the author of "to kill a mockingbird." we have a new time, and, as you can see, a new home. it's "inside story". what to kill a mocking bird about - the south. the moment in childhood, when you see adults, figuring out who your father is and who you are. it's one of a handful of books everyone will read between 7th and 12th grade. he was published in 1960. a year later it was honoured with a pulitzer prize. it's been translated into 40 languages, harper collins will
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public lee's new book in july. harper lee had this statement in a press release: % in other words the new back was written first, and featured ideas in what is "to kill a mockingbird." i'm joined by charles, an author in his own write. welcome to the programme. announcement? >> i knew about it. in 2004 when i researched harper lee's biography i found correspondence between harper lee and her publicist that there
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was a manure psychiatrist called "go setter watchman". >> you knew that there was a manuscript, the idea that it would be released, did that surprise you? >> i did. i thought it was an originally effort by a gee going author on the -- beginning author on the way to writing "to kill a mockingbird." as with many, you try, it dies, you take a wrong turp, away it goes. published. >> in preparing your book, you spoke to hundreds of people who know harper lee, knew harper lee herself. >> no, for a reason, alice lee stood between harper and the media hungry world. her sister was provider, financial counsellor, lawyer, and i tried to get around her, she found out that i did the biography sending a hot letter
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saying i hear you are talking to my sister's friends, i don't like it. we developed a good relationship. if you asked her a specific question, you got a specific answer. i never spoke to harper lee. >> she wasn't strictly speaking a reclues. she lived a life where she was in pubic, seen and heard by her neighbours. >> harper lee and her sister alice are provincial people. they love the small part of the south. "to kill a mockingbird" is a novel of manners, it's about the way people behave. she said all i want to be is the jane austin of the south. she is. >> that's a big assignment. >> it is a big assignment. that's right. you know, she rendered that little town in a surrealistic way that i know people go back to read it every year because they want to go back to makin.
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>> she calls herself happy as hell that this is released. do you believe na? >> shoot. i've been asked to speculate on what your mental state, is she competent, is she being used. you know, i'm a literary biographer. i know the genesis of the book, the relationship between the two sisters. happy as hell? why didn't it come out before. i think it's coincidence that alice lee died in november, and now here we have the book. >> reporter: what do we know about her condition and her listen. >> for a woman that earns $1 million in royalties. she lies a simple life. she is in a modest assisted living place. she did a ranch. she is going blind, hard of hearing. suffered a stroke.
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she's accessible to close friend, but as a result of all the hub ub about the new book, there's a security guard outside the door of the assisted living place to keep away the public. >> how is she regarded in south alabama. if you ask alabamans of harper lee and the jim crow south, is she well thought of? >> there has been two minds or two opinions about harper lee. on the one hand there's a progressive attitude. she wrote a tsunami of historical change. we were on the lip of the civil rights movement and she brings us a compassionate book putting us in the hands of an innocent 9-year-old and walks us through a dangerous situation. there's those that think she sold out the south. she received a lot of hate mail after the book came out. and there are those that think it's paternalistic, no longer relative, but i disagree.
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>> "go setter watchman" was set in the "50, closer to the time it was written, and a complicated time in alabama. >> there was an overlap. the title refers to the moment when attacus is sitting outside the country gaol waiting for the vigilante mob. he's the watchman. in that moment the u.s. constitution and the legal system is invested in a humble country lawyer, who will see that his client gets justice. in the iconic scene, and if that's the heart of this novel, how much is left over for "to kill a mockingbird." i wonder about the overlap. >> it will be fascinating to see what kind of adult this precocious child became. >> exactly. >> you must be curious? >> i am. if he's like harper lee, she's authentic, doesn't look over her
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shoulder or for approval. i can see scout in the person of harper lee as a grown woman. >> charles shields stay with us, when we return, we'll it talk to a teacher who introduces "to kill a mockingbird" to other teachers, and works with them on how to bring the "to kill a mockingbird" to new readers. it's "inside story".
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welcome back to "inside story" on al jazeera america. i'm ray suarez. this time we talk about the lost and found first novel from harper lee, best known for "to kill a mockingbird." america has changed better since the best seller and pulitzer prize winner hit the stores. as the last several months demonstrate we have trouble talking to each other about race. in "to kill a mockingbird," small-town lawyer attacus
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defended a black man defending him against rape of a white woman, and it says: as challenging as it can be for young people especially to confront the racial path, mockingbird gives readers a guy. sout says of her own father: charles shields is with us, an author of mocking bird. and a professor of secondary education joins us. welcome to the programme. >> thank you. >> was it predictable. would it have been imagined in 1960 when the book came out that
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it would become a killer of the young adult ca in the united states. >> it's a curious phenomenon why certain books become popular, and "to kill a mockingbird" is among the five popularly taught books. it's slightly strange, but in some ways we predict that based on what an heroic figure attacus is, how he represents our vision of what we imagine america should be. there are other ways in which the book offers us, because it's told through scout's perspective, a mild version of events that are troubling to us, about the american past, and so the book is more
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palatable than it might otherwise be. >> how do you walk the line, there are difficult posages in the book about lynching, the colour bar. race hatred, family cruelty, it's a tough read. the idea that every 8th, 9th, 10th grader is ready for it - how do you get teachers ready to bring it to them. >> right. that is a task i have taken up along with my coe author. because of the common core, there's an emphasis on what the common core calls informational text, and that provides an opportunity for children to read non-viction, and with a text -- mon fiction, and with a text
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like "to kill a mockingbird," it's valuable. the lynching in the text - it's invisible for many. it's the scene where attacus is sitting outside the gaol house guarding tom robinon, and scout and her brother come along and see the men who gathered outside. because it's scout's perspective, scout doesn't know what is going on. using the international text of to kill a mokking bird. we suggest teachers use ex-earnts from memoires about their own experiences with near lynching, to draw out for students that this is not an innocuous screen. this is a scary moment that scout can barely glimpse the real ramifications of of. >> you are teaching tomorrow's teachers. do you imagine the book hits in
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a different way, if you teach in tuscalusa or huntville versus newark or hoboken. >> absolutely. one of the things for students of colour is that tom robinson, i think, represents one of the typical figures in american media today. he's noble but pretty powerless kind but a victim. there's little preparation of anger on the part of african-americans in the text. the only real character that represents any kind of challenge is calpurnia. in order to access that challenge, we have to see past scout's perspective. there's the moment where calpurnia takes the children -
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that is the nanny/housekeeper - and takes the children to her african-american church scout recognises that there's a world that calpurnia exist in but doesn't know anything about. she doesn't know how old she is or her family. and references how calpurnia speaks a different language to what scout is used to hearing. there's a sense that there is another world. scout barely has access to it. for students, they are not getting access to that other world, and so for students of colour, it's hard to find power, heroism in the text. >> charles shields, if you go into a book store, if you find one, there's a discrete section of young adult fiction or
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juvenile fiction. did harper lee think she was writing a book that would be read by 14 or 15-year-olds. >> no, her publisher didn't think it would sell many copies. she was told if we sell 2500 copies, that would be great. next book, maybe 5,000. harper lee wanted a book on the shelf that was a tribute to her father. because she's an artist she channelled a lot of feelings. professor fish brings up interesting points. you can lift the lid on that book, and look at things that harper lee in her southernness doesn't realise that she's writing about, but making good discussion starters. look at calpurnia, who takes care of her children when she takes care of the white children. is it dolfus who drinks out of a paper bag, married to a black woman. he's written off as crazy.
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who would be in a bi-racial marriage. there's subtlety to the book. you can bring out the nuance, and don't forget about bow radially. if you can't get a handle on what tom robertson represents, down the street is the american - as he's viewed by the children, the american frankenstein, harmless, inside a house alone, but vilified because he's different. there's a lot of facets to explore. you don't need to deal with the it. >> how do you respond to shields? >> i think that's the challenge of teaching literature, how to make students find connections how to fill in quaps and show the larger issues in an s.
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>> still ahead - in the past few days since the news of the harper lee novel broke, one wish bemoaned its release because "to kill a mockingbird" is perfect. what the release of a long-lost sequel could do to the experience of reading the original story of murder and limping -- lynching in a southern alabama town. stay with us.
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we are back with "inside story", i'm ray suarez, literary curiosity and an air of mystery can be cultivated by an inactionable author. for years jdsalinger's attempts to hide from fans made him more sought after. the harper lee story and its appeal had twin attractions - that the writer of one beloved book can enjoy success and never try to repeat the trick and the same woman would avoid being interviewed for 50 years, years during which people of modest or no gifts seemed to be introduced constantly.
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will the arrival of a new lee work "go setter watchman" ruin her ledge meant. audrey frish and charles shield is with me, and we are joined by staff writer for los angeles, ar ol. -- carol. can you think of a case like this, where a loft manuscript comes to light so long after an work? >> the closest parallel is ralph ellie son, but the difference is they waited until after he died to publish a monstrous novel that was - they are came together during his lifetime. >> was it a big success like "the invisible man", or did it languish, even though transfers brought out? >> it was brought out in two forms. someone edited it down to 300, and that was terrible. then they published the
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1,000 pages, that was terrible. and, yes, it was not good. hopefully this will be maybe not quite as terrible a story. >> are there reasons why some works like this stay unpublished for so long? >> because they are not good. yes. oftentimes offers are not good judges of their own work. generally if a book stays in the bottom draw, they are not ready to reach the public, hemingway's eden, coming out 20 years after he died - it was bad. >> in a lot of cases in the arts, i can think much a lot of cases in music, other ones in literature, people are looking for unknown works of painters, they do enjoy a lot of commercial success, in part
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because of the curiosity. are you dying to read watchman? >> i think that i am not an individual who can possibly mirror the tremendous outpouring of warm feeling that people for harper lee and for "to kill a mockingbird." it's such a beloved book. her reputation is impeccable. everybody is going to want to take a look at this book. i think even people who buy, like, one book a year will remember "to kill a mockingbird," and be like "there's a new harper lee book, i had no idea", and they will by the book in 2015. >> does it have the potential of watering down the brand. might people be demonstrated watchman." possible. >> charles, this is a 60-year-old book. it's not leather stocking tails,
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it's not like reading something by washington irving, but mite it be dated? >> well, you know, when cop ody died, it was said "good career move. kapodi was at the end of his life. he was not writing well. we are getting this book from a woman who is sassy, 28 years old, who was working at eastern airlines as a reservationist at night and during the day and writing on the weekend as a novelist. she's putting blood sweat and tears into the group. we may find the compassion was put into the book in 1955, during the eisenhower administration. it may be a time capsule, a parallel. alexander dumoz, the last cavalier came out 125 years
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after the author's death, and shots - shot to the top of the best seller list in france. if we give it a bit of room and say this was written a long time ago by a young earnest author, it may satisfy - it may creek a little bit, because it doesn't have the practice hand of an editor on it yet. >> audrey fish, we may be being altogether too pessimistic here a harper lee look at the 50s, as a look at the 30s may be a use of teaching tool about american race relations, what changed during the early days of the most intebs period of the american fill rights movement. >> right. the 30s, when harper lee wrote even g the "50, it was a safe topic.
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we can gree that tom robinson was heroic. today we are struggle with how to look at the 50s. we see that in the reaction to the film selma. was harper lee persuaded from publishing the back because it was less safe, more troublesome and will it be more challenging for us now to take on. i am sure there'll be problems and issues, that may be something exciting for readers. >> given that imitation can be the sincerest form of flattering, my publishing houses beat the shells and look through files for old manuscripts. if this works, mite we see writers? >> we might. there's nobody like harper lee. there's no other writer of her prominence
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publishing reticence and longevity who has a secret establish waiting to be discovered. she's the only one. >> james shields, people will probably read your book a little more once in is out. can't be a bad thing. >> god bless harper lee. >> does this fill something out, finish a story. might you have to rite another chapter to your own profile? >> i think i do now. i bring everything to a close in the 1990s, something like that. when the two sisters are elderly, and we see the end is nigh. and here we have literally another chapter in the life of harper lee. >> are you pulling for the success of "go setter watchman", i am. look at to this way. we have every reason to be excited. this is the summer of the big book. everyone from harper collins to
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the lady that drives the book mobile has reasons to rejoice. book clubs, reading programs, those that like to curl up with a novel. we have a reason to read a book, a gift from one of the most popular authors of the 20th century. great to talk to you all. thank you for being with us. that's all for this edition of "inside story". we want you to talk back to your television set. visit our facebook page and give us your feedback on what you hear on the programme. i invite you to follow us on twitter. see you next time, in washington, i'm ray suarez.
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