'Finch' fries, 'Boo' burgers as Harper Lee's hometown greets new novel

Tue Jul 14, 2015 3:38pm EDT
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By Rich McKay

MONROEVILLE, Alabama (Reuters) - In the southern hometown of author Harper Lee, a freight truck unloaded the first of 7,000 copies of “Go Set a Watchman” at a small bookshop just ahead of midnight, minutes before Tuesday's release of Lee’s first published novel in 55 years.

A friend recently told Lee that the sequel to "To Kill a Mockingbird" is currently the most pre-ordered book on Amazon.com.

“You lie,” she said, according to her longtime friend Prof. Wayne Flynt of Auburn University, who plans to celebrate with the town of Monroeville in southwest Alabama.

The elusive Lee herself, Miss Nelle to her friends and now 89, might make a rare appearance in the town she made famous, said Flynt.

“But don’t count on it too much,” he said. “She changes her mind a lot and doesn’t much like attention. She lives moment to moment.”

But the small town Lee modeled Depression-era Maycomb on in "Mockingbird" is focused on this moment.

At midnight, outside Ol’ Curiosities and Book Shoppe in downtown Monroeville, shopkeeper Spencer Madrie signaled to a crowd mingling with Gregory Peck look-alikes waiting for the sequel to the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Mockingbird."

"I’ve had people calling from as far away as from England looking for the book early," said Madrie, who will emboss copies of the book so folks will know it was bought in Lee’s hometown.   Continued...

Amy Burchfield and her daughter Scout Burchfield take a photo with the "A Celebration of Reading" sculpture at the Old Monroe County Courthouse, the setting of "To Kill a Mockingbird"  in Monroeville, Alabama July 14, 2015. REUTERS/Michael Spooneybarger