Monday, September 27, 2010

"this is an outrage of epic proportions!"

In honour of "Banned Books Week" in the United States, I thought I'd share this gem.

In 2006 my good friend, Jonas, wrote a letter to Harper Lee (author of To Kill a Mockingbird). As Jonas himself explained in an email:

"Remember that ridiculous satirical letter which I wrote to Harper Lee this winter regarding the use of a colon in To Kill a Mockingbird? The letter was basically a biting criticism meant to parallel the ridiculous reaction to the uproar over the use of the word "nigger" in that book."

In the same email, Jonas shared Harper Lee's response to his letter. Demonstrative of her Pulitzer Prize winning wit and intelligence, the letter is not only a testament to the absurdity continual attempts to have To Kill a Mockingbird pulled from library shelves but is a rare glimpse of a genius whose writings continue to rock the world decades after publishing.

Jonas is the smartest person I've ever met, and it doesn't surprise me in the least that a letter he wrote is in Harper Lee's archive.

So, enjoy:

A Letter to Harper Lee and Harper Lee's Response

The text of Harper Lee's letter is included below.

" 25 April 2006

Dear Mr. Kiedrowski:

Thank you for your letter of December 10, 2005. The mails of McIntosh & Otis grind slowly; I did not receive it until yesterday.

Your letter was so alarming that I sought consultation with Prof. Irwin Corey, The World's Foremost Authority, who came out of retirement (or from the the grave, I'm not sure which) to declare that you have a point, a stiletto of a weapon. You must have used it to cause embarrassment to any number of authors, proof-reading being what it is these days.

You realize, of course, that I cannot possibly accept responsibility for an errant colon because: I had a lousy education, I received no food stamps to supplement my meagre diet when I was writing To Kill a Mockingbird, and George W. Bush was only twelve years old at the time. If anyone is to blame, blame anyone but me.

Feeling that I have met today's standards of accountability, and now the possessor of a letter that will be kept in my archives forever, I am your grateful and delighted,

Harper Lee"

1 comment:

Jonas said...

I haven't read those letters in years! In retrospect, I see some flippant use of few prepositions in my letter, so without doubt:

Final score
Harper Lee 1, Jonas 0

Oh well - I'll get Harper Lee with her next novel...

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