Mockingbird Songs: My Friendship with Harper Lee

Wayne Flynt. HarperCollins, $25.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-06-266008-4
Southern historian Flynt (Keeping the Faith) shares his relationship with Harper Lee in a series of affectionate, playful, and mutually admiring letters. The correspondence between Flynt and Lee—known by her birth name, Nelle, to family and friends—documents the literary history of Alabama, the enduring appeal of To Kill a Mockingbird, and the vanishing art of letter writing. Mainly spanning 2004–2009, Lee’s letters are by and large discussions of infirmities, logistical details for visits, flattering remarks on Flynt’s work and family, and reports on the various honors heaped upon her. They also reveal Lee’s awe at Mockingbird’s legacy (“It’s really incredible what is read into—or what people find in—that story”), the truth behind Go Set a Watchman (published to rumors of dementia and exploitation that Flynt roundly debunks), and Lee’s—mostly scathing—opinions of literary biographies. Flynt is a fluent writer in his own right, but the main rewards here lie in Lee’s tart observations on the modern world, sly sense of humor, and wonderful turns of phrase. Letters from Lee’s sister, Alice, round out the collection, which concludes with Flynt’s eulogy for Lee, a contemplation on the themes of her classic novel. Overall, the book provides a satisfying glimpse of a famously reserved literary great. Agent: Andrew Nurnberg, Andrew Nurnberg Associates. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/20/2017
Release date: 05/01/2017
Compact Disc - 978-1-5384-1856-7
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-267400-5
Compact Disc - 978-1-5384-1857-4
Library Binding - 500 pages - 978-1-68324-471-4
Ebook - 240 pages - 978-0-06-266010-7
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