Sunday, July 11, 2010

The novel was innovative in several ways. Through the narrative voice Harper Lee developed, she solved a perennial problem for writers: how do you accurately portray events from childhood to reflect both the feelings and perceptions of the time, and the fact that you’re looking back with the knowledge and insight of an adult?

The wedding of a kind of fictionalized memoir describing the texture of childhood and a particular place and time, with a courtroom drama involving an important social and political issue, was itself a synthesis that violated the rules. But in Lee’s telling, both elements gave power to the other. The somewhat languid mood of much of the early parts of the book (it takes place over three years) gradually quickens into page-turning drama.

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