Billed as a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Harper Lee's renowned work, the Read-A-Thon began with Sarah Addison Allen at 4pm after which a lineup of regional authors each read for 15 minutes before passing the microphone. Authors included Brian Lee Knopp, Maria Fire, Charles Gershon, Mark de Castrique, Rose Senehi, Rob Neufeld, Peter Loewer, Howard Hanger, Sallie Bissell, George Ivey, Cynn Chadwick, Glenis Redmond, Allan Wolf, John Lane, Gene Cheek, Vicki Lane, and Wayne Caldwell.
It had been a shamefully long time since I read Harper Lee's great book -- my maiden name is in the paperback copy on my book shelf -- I'm guessing I purchased it in '62. So I read it again to be prepared for my fifteen minutes at the mic.
Oh, my! What a revelation! It was like revisiting my childhood -- my memories of my grandparents and my Alabama relatives. Peach pickles and camellias and those timeless summers . . .
As I read the description of the small town, I couldn't help remembering my visit to my brother's home in Headland, Alaama -- the same town square surrounded by small shops.Of course, the book's not all nostalgia and moonlight and magnolias -- the ugly racism of the times is the story -- the racism and one decent man's attempt to stand up to it. I think this book did a lot to help bring awareness of these backward attitudes to many people who hadn't thought beyond 'that's just the way things are.'
It was a pleasure to be a part of the read-a-thon -- there were no introductions -- just each of us reading our 15 minutes and wordlessly passing the mic to the next reader. It seemed to me a charming way to honor the 50th anniversary of this important American novel