In a Simpsons episode from the late nineties, Lisa Simpson, concerned that her mental skills may be deteriorating, manages to finagle her way onto a local TV news broadcast, where she urges the residents of Springfield to read two books: To Kill a Mockingbird and Harriet the Spy. At first glance, the two novels might not seem to have that much in common, but as Anna Holmes argues in a blog post for The New Yorker, the books share “ideas about the complexity, sophistication, and occasional wickedness of young girls’ imaginations.” (You could also read our own Garth Risk Hallberg on Malcolm Gladwell and To Kill a Mockingbird.)
Filed in New York District Court, the suit … claims that Pinkus ‘engaged in a scheme to dupe Harper Lee, then 80-years-old with declining hearing and eye sight, into assigning her valuable TKAM [To Kill a Mockingbird] copyright to [Pinkus’s company] for no consideration,’ and then created shell companies and bank accounts to which the book’s royalties were funneled.
I wanted to explore this difference between being the weedy uncertainty of the writing, and the Graceland-like enshrinement of the person. I wanted to get closer to the un-Kardashian obscurity in which Lee wrote, in a cold-water flat, ‘hop[ing] for the best and expect[ing] nothing.’ Ironically, the way to do this was the embark on a life adventure I affectionately refer to as Stalking Harper Lee.
Amy Whitaker, “The Obscure Early Lives of the Artists.”
Out today on Blu-Ray!