Thursday, April 29, 2010

Libba, Stephen, and Harper Lee

Last night I left the children in the care of someone trustworthy to attend the 50th Anniversary Celebration of To Kill a Mockingbird at Symphony Space. In addition to Oskar Eustis (Artistic Director at The Public Theater), Kurt Andersen (novelist and Studio 360 Host), Jayne Anne Phillips (novelist and National Book Award finalist Lark & Termite), filmmaker Mary McDonagh Murphy (author of the upcoming book Scout, Atticus, and Boo), were two of my favorite people in the world Stephen Colbert and Libba Bray (award winning young-adult novelist Going Bovine, winner of 2010 Printz Award)! Basically, they read excerpts from the book and went on about how great it was. And the audience concurred! The panel was mostly Southern-raised and had a deep connection with the book. I didn't read it till I was out of grad school and at my Scottish husband's insistence (!) but it nevertheless tore my guts out. Scout’s voice is amazing, and I think what every writer, YA or otherwise, aspires to achieve in their work. Just when I thought I could not possibly love him anymore than I already do, Stephen Colbert says that he reads To Kill a Mockingbird at least once a year and his copy is held together with rubber bands. It was a great night with a bizarre panel. Jayne Anne Phillips was a little "I'm a National Book Award Finalist and Who the Hell Are You" the whole night, Libba was a little shy, and it did drag on a bit but Stephen kept it lively and it was a real pleasure to be in a room where people were talking about falling in love with a book. Then we went for tapas and wine (sadly without Libba and Stephen) and caught a taxi home. I was shaken up because all I could think of was Scout and Atticus and Jem and my own two little ones at home and the YA book I'm about to delve into come Monday and the power of words arranged artfully on a page to change the world while drinking a fantastic tempranillo and eating patatas bravas... Not quite a Literary Night of Debauchery but pretty fucking close.

Days to May of Mayhem: 4

So, I'll begin a little Q & A here ala Isaiah Sheffer: What do you remember most from reading the book? Where were you when you first read it and how old?

Your turn! Er, in the comments!


Arlaina said...

I'll go first. I most remember Scout in the ham costume. It was such a quirky, modern, and weird choice for the author and it made the book seem sort of, I don't know, post modern almost. I thought it was so odd that it might derail the whole scene but what it does is artfully change the whole focus so the chain of events that follows catches you off guard and skewers you to the floor.

Anonymous said...

I always felt I was Scout as a kid!

momoblogue said...

So, I get to teach that book. I never get sick of it, and students always love it, so it's fun getting to see them get into it.

This is funny. . . I once gave a get to know you little questionaire and asked what their favorite book was. Best answer: How to Kill a Hummingbird. (Unfortunately, there was nothing ironic about the response. The student was that confused.)

My own personal, recent response to Mockingbird is that I am not Atticus. I want to be so badly. But, I'm Calpurnia. Sigh.

Arlaina said...

Calpurnia is a great character! She does NOT fuck around.

hannah said...

I read it in eighth grade, and I had an enormous crush on Jem.

Arlaina said...