Wednesday, February 21, 2007
[Program] Author Charles J. Shields
Adult Enrichment Series
Thursday, March 8th
6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
$10 per person
Join author Charles J. Shields as he shares his thoughts on reclusive, southern writer Harper Lee based on his research for the book Mockingbird.
Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library
3030 Poplar Avenue, Memphis, TN 38111
Books on sale for signing courtesy of Davis-Kidd Booksellers.
Read Kam McHugh's review of MOCKINGBIRD: A Portrait of Harper Lee by Charles J. Shields (Henry Holt, 2006).
* THIS BOOK IS A BRIDGE FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS TO REACH CLOSER AND BETTER UNDERSTAND THE MYSTERY OF HARPER LEE'S TALENT AND HER ETERNAL MESSAGES TO HUMANITY IN "TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD"
What a challenge and Sisyphean task to create a portrait of Nelle Harper Lee, the best novelist of the 20th Century while she is against and insists keeping her privacy. What a mission impossible for a biographer to not even exchange a word with the one whose character he wants to describe. And what an admiration, great respect and devotion is needed to keep the work on "Mockingbird" going no matter how hard it is for each and every step.
I'm sure Charles J. Shields didn't know what he was involving himself into when he decided to write his book. After all Nelle Harper Lee is one of the most mysteriously secretive women alive and yet the one so openly self-revealed throughout her own words brilliantly knitted into her novel "To kill a Mockingbird". But Shields' passion was to create an honest tale about the persona of this exclusively talented Alabama woman that armed generations to come with the greatest idea that giving respect to the differences between ourselves as human beings is all we need. And he went to his four years journey of struggle. He fought to get to the real sources of Lee's exceptional gift, and to find out how the book was created, survived and proved itself through the years. As Harper Lee wasn't cooperating, Shields had to meet with hundreds of people from different circles who knew her personally - relatives, old friends, acquaintances. And he had to make over 600 interviews to get the actual picture he was putting so meticulously on his canvas.
Until Charles J. Shields, as Miss Lee preferred to stay out of the media lights, the only source about her persona could be squeezed only from the novel. I truly believe that Shields' book is an honest and monumental work that will help future generations to reach and easier and better understand Harper Lee in her deep human essence, and hear clearly and on a deeper level her messages.
The only thing sadly left to be desired here is the personal participation and presence of the real Nelle, with her own passions, emotions, feelings, motives and reasoning about different things and events in her own life and also about the ups and downs of the life and morality now days in general. Things that her privacy is depriving us all of and obviously creating more and more hunger for knowing her better and closer. The good news is Nelle Harper Lee is still here and with us and could change this, come back to her audience and add the missing components of her own portrait that Charles J. Shields painted with such precision, sincerity, love and ardor.
RomyAna Kaval, Texas