Reading Watchman

For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman: let him declare what he seeth (Isaiah 21:6, KJV)

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Last week, I stood in my favorite bookstore listening to a customer chat with the man behind the counter. The customer said, “I’m lukewarm about it right now. I’m going to keep reading and wait to see what everyone says about it before I make up my mind.”

The clerk didn’t respond immediately but then said, “Yeah, we’ve been disappointed with the number of people who have called in to cancel their special order because of the bad reviews.”

They were speaking, of course, about Go Set a Watchman.

To Kill a Mockingbird is my favorite book of all time. So when I heard a “new” Harper Lee book would be coming out, I was beyond thrilled. The news quickly soured, tempering my unbridled joy. But I knew I would buy and read the book.

The negative reviews started coming. I skimmed one and then tried to avoid others. Chapter one came out early as a digital release. I ignored it. I wanted to hold the book in my hands, to read its words there first, and—unlike the bookstore customer—make up my own mind before reading any reviews.

I’m going out on what may be a lonely limb to say I enjoyed Go Set a Watchman. Not in the raving, life-changing way I devoured To Kill a Mockingbird. Not without choking through the excessive use of the n-word. Not without wishing for an editor at points. Not without understanding why reviewers might be harsh.

However, there was so much that resonated with me in these 278 pages that I refuse to join the naysayers. It feels too soon for me to fully articulate my thoughts on the book, but I wanted to set down some thoughts now before they get tangled up with the reviews and opinions of others that I can only avoid for so long. (Caution: spoiler alerts ahead)

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Summer in the south

Though summer weather has been around for at least a month, the official start of summer arrived on Saturday with the solstice. On Saturday, I read a poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar, one especially fitting—and lovely—and I wanted to share it with you here:

Summer in the South

The oriole sings in the greening grove
As if he were half-way waiting,
The rosebuds peep from their hoods of green,
Timid and hesitating.
The rain comes down in a torrent sweep
And the nights smell warm and pinety,
The garden thrives, but the tender shoots
Are yellow-green and tiny.
Then a flash of sun on a waiting hill,
Streams laugh that erst were quiet,
The sky smiles down with a dazzling blue
And the woods run mad with riot.

Orioles don’t hang around where I live, but there are plenty of beautiful birds that do spend their summers here. I saw a goldfinch perched on the butterfly bush on Saturday, but alas, without camera in hand, I don’t have an image of it to share with you here. I will share photos of the flowers that were blooming this solstice day.

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