Does This Book Need A Sequel? To Kill A Mockingbird
To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the few extremely successful books that doesn’t get complained about too much. I’ve never heard anybody say he/she hated To Kill a Mockingbird. I’ve never heard anyone call it “a f***ing piece of sh**” or say they wasted precious hours of their lives reading it. The worst complaint I’ve heard is that it’s overrated. It probably is. No book can have as much acclaim as To Kill a Mockingbird does without being overrated, but I think that almost every bestseller or award-winning book is overrated. Once anything reaches a certain acclaimed status, it’s automatically overrated. But I’ve never heard anybody say that To Kill a Mockingbird sucks.
I’m pretty sure somebody’s going to hate the upcoming sequel. Just like book lovers are already ordering Harper Lee’s new novel ahead of time, there are others who already hate the idea of a sequel for To Kill a Mockingbird. Some even hate the title Go Set a Watchman. I believe in judging a book by its title, and I have no idea what Go Set a Watchman means, but I also had no idea what To Kill a Mockingbird meant either until I read it. To be honest, I might not have known what To Kill a Mockingbird meant until Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch explained it to Scout (and me). So it’s probably not fair to judge the title of the sequel yet.
I’ve found that when controversial things happen, it’s best to wait about six months to have an opinion. In six months, there’s usually been enough time to gather information about a given topic to have a well-informed opinion. In a little over six months, Go Set a Watchman will be released, and that will be the best time to think about having an opinion. A bunch of critics will have instant opinions about the sequel as soon as it gets released. Again, I will wait six months to have an opinion. I might even wait six months before I read the sequel. After I read the sequel, I might wait six months to have an opinion about it.
Sometimes, it’s best to have time to see what real effect a book or movie has on you. That’s why some critically panned books become classics and praised books are often forgotten after a few years. Yeah, it’s tough to wait six months to have an opinion. Lots of loud people form their opinions right away and start spouting off their opinions in really strong authoritative voices so that by the time six months is up, those of us who have taken our time in forming our opinions learn that our opinions don’t matter anymore.
One warning sign about Go Set a Watchman is that Harper Lee says she’s “happy as hell” that her sequel is finally being published. I’m happy that Harper is happy as hell, but a part of me wonders if “happy as hell” is code for “Please don’t let them publish this.” I don’t think I use “hell” to describe positive feelings. I “run like hell.” I get “mad as hell.” But I don’t think I’ve ever been “happy as hell.” When I think of happiness, hell is one of the last words I use as part of my simile. Maybe Harper Lee had just reread A Catcher in the Rye and was channeling her inner Holden Caulfield. Maybe “happy as hell” is code for somebody to write a sequel to A Catcher in the Rye.
Nobody really knows right now if Go Set a Watchman is any good. There’s a high probability it’ll be disappointing (I have nothing statistical or analytical to back up my claim), but even if the sequel is disappointing, it shouldn’t take anything away from To Kill a Mockingbird. All of those mediocre Corleone books didn’t diminish my love for The Godfather. That Scarlett sequel didn’t diminish Gone with the Wind at all. Dr. Sleep didn’t ruin The Shining for me. To me, the sequel is a no-lose situation. If it’s great, it’s another future classic to be enjoyed for generations. If it’s disappointing, in a few months we can pretend like it never happened. But for now, I have a good six months before I need to think about forming an opinion.
What do you think? Are you looking forward to Go Set a Watchman, or are you dreading it? What other books should have a sequel written? What sequels shouldn’t have been written? Does “happy as hell” mean “really happy,” or is something sinister happening before our eyes? Is six months too long to form an opinion, or is it better to just instantly pick a side and defend it to the death?
The Writing Prompt might never get a sequel, but if it does, I’ll be “happy as something better than hell.”