Tuesday, March 8

Book: To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee

I'm the kinda guy that usually follows through with something I've started. I've never walked out of a film at the cinema, for example. I always have this nagging feeling that as bad as things might seem to be, there's still a chance that the final part of whatever I'm doing will make the whole worth it. Yes, I'm wrong most of the time, but I feel it's a good principle to stick with for the times when my hunches are correct.

Take To Kill A Mockingbird. When I had started this book I was telling people how overrated I thought it was. I was waiting to finish it just so I could write in this very blog how shallow, simple and procrastinating it actually was. Still, I stuck with it, and thankfully this is one of the rare times that I'm glad I did.

I think it was page 75 or thereabouts when it finally clicked with me. This wasn't a book about racism in the deep south. It wasn't about an alleged rape or a court case. It was really about a young girl growing up, her family and the town in which they lived. Lee does a fantastic job of bringing alive a character by portraying her confusion, self-doubt and innocence so vividly and coherently. The various situations that she found herself in (school, the rape, her developing relationships with her brother and father) were just catalysts for Lee to exploit more of this talent she has of being able to bring fictional people to life. As such, Tom, Boo and even Atticus were all conspiring to support the painting of the life Scout; I'll even be as bold to say that if there weren't no racial issues involved the book would have been just as good.

Frankly, it's assured me of something I first realised when reading Perdido - I'm a big fan of characterisation. A book can have no plot, no direction, but as long as it has deep and believable characters, I will enjoy reading it. I've not read many biographies, but I may try a couple to see whether the fiction aspect makes any difference.