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harper lee: a life apart

A life apart
     They could be any two aging Southern sisters out for a Sunday drive.
     The younger of the two stashes her sister's walker in the back of the Buick, then slips into the driver's seat and heads for open road.
     With the love of exploration they have always shared, the women leave behind their small hometown, with its courthouse bell tolling the hours. Their windows rolled up tight against the bugs and sledgehammer heat of southern Alabama, they skim past cotton fields that stretch to the horizon.
     The car kicks up little clouds of red dust on the dirt roads that slice through the region's piney woods and pockets of poverty.
     It is a corner of the Deep South made familiar to readers around the world by the spirited, white-haired woman at the wheel. For she is not just another resident of this rural county. She is the elusive, fiercely private author of one of the 20th Century's best-read novels, "To Kill a Mockingbird."
     She is Harper Lee.
(Chicago Tribune, registration required.)

A really lovely piece about Harper Lee's life ... told almost, but not entirely, without the cooperation of Harper Lee herself. (She allowed them to photograph her for the piece, but she did not grant any interviews.) It's much better in the actual physical newspaper -- that's where I first saw it -- because it has several wonderful photographs. Even without them, it's a really nice piece of writing, of a length you don't generally find even in the features part of the newspaper.

Posted by iain at September 14, 2002 12:34 AM


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