The book shows the personal side of "Mockingbird" author Harper Lee.national pastime

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The book shows the personal side of "Mockingbird" author Harper Lee.national pastime

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HOMEWOOD, Alabama (AP) — To the world, Harper Lee was an obscure and relentless private figure who spent most of his life out of the public eye. Kill Mockingbird. ” For Wayne Flint, the Alabama-born writer was his friend Nell.

Flint, a longtime Southern historian who became close friends with Nell Harper Lee in his later years, wrote a second book about the author, Afternoon with Harper Lee, which Flint opened Thursday at a bookstore outside Birmingham. signed.

Based on Flint’s notes, who visited Lee dozens of times more than a decade before she died in 2016, the book sits on the porch and tells the story of Lee’s childhood and family in rural Alabama, New York. According to Flint, this includes his grandfather, who fought for the Confederacy, inflicting heavy casualties on Alabama troops at the Battle of Gettysburg. Despite this, the time spent surviving is also included.

“I said to her, ‘Half of the 15th Regiment in Alabama was killed, wounded, or captured, and he got away?’ Was it just luck? , God’s providence? What the hell is that?” Flint said in an interview with the Associated Press.

“And she said, ‘No, that’s not God’s providence. He could run fast.'”

Flint said the public perception of Lee as a recluse is wrong. No, she did not give media interviews and was fiercely protective of her privacy, but was warm and kind to her friends, including former First Lady Lady Bird Johnson, Flint said. , he said, was “deeply religious” in a way many were not.

“This is an attempt to tell the story of a real woman, not a woman of marble,” Flint said.

The book is also a tribute to Flint’s late wife Dirty, who passed away in 2020.

“I think she tolerated me because she loved Dirty,” he said.

Born in 1926, when the South was still segregated by law, Lee grew up in the town of Monroeville in southern Alabama. She was the daughter of the lawyer who modeled her finch, Lawyer Atticus, in the race story To Kill a Mockingbird. , Injustice and Law in the Jim Crow Era. The town itself became Maycomb, the setting for the book.

Preferring soccer, softball, golf and books to small-town social issues and college sororities, Lee’s well-known desire for privacy sets her apart from others who grew up around her in the South. It may come from the feeling that

“I think she occupied a world where she felt different from other girls,” he said.

A childhood friend of fellow author Truman Capote, Lee was rarely heard in public after her partially autobiographical “Mockingbird”, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and became a hit film. There was not. She lived mostly in a Manhattan apartment, but until her stroke left her partially paralyzed, it was easier for her to blend in than to move home.

Flint and his late wife knew Lee’s two sisters, and they became close to the author after she returned to Alabama from a stroke. They visited her at a rehabilitation center in Birmingham, and then a welfare facility in Monroeville, where she spent many years until her death. Died just months after the release of “Set the Guard”.

The book does not touch on the most private aspects of Lee’s life. Flint said they didn’t discuss such things. But it speaks to her worsening isolation from hearing loss and blindness towards the end of her life. her love of gambling. Rage against “Watchman”. and author of an unpublished manuscript about a bizarre murder in central Alabama.

Lee was immersed in literature and religion, said Flint. She preferred the King James Bible for its lyrical language, he said, and her favorite writers included Jane Austen and C.S. Lewis.

“When she died, there was a complete anthology of all CS Lewis’ books on her little two-room ottoman. It must have weighed 50 pounds,” he said.

“Afternoons with Harper Lee” is the sequel to Flint’s “Songs of Mockingbird: A Friendship with Harper Lee”. While the first book was based on letters between the two of her, the new book has more tortuous dialogue than the first in the Southern tradition. storytelling.

“Letters are less lively than stories,” he said.