Ol’ Curiosities & Book Shoppe in the National Spotlight
Ol’ Curiosities & Book Shoppe was on the world stage this week with the release of Harper Lee’s new novel, Go Set a Watchman. Reporters from national news outlets travelled to Monroeville to cover the event, visit the shop and interview Spencer Madrie. The Guardian reported that more that 400 people turned up to the midnight release party, dressed in their Sunday best to line up for the event. Celebrity tribute artist Eric Richardson mingled with the crowd as Atticus Finch, and the crew of OCBS dressed for the occasion.
According to Fortune, Go Set a Watchman set a first-day sales record at Barnes & Noble and is the nation’s top selling book on Amazon.com. Early Tuesday evening, NBC News, quoting our very own Spencer Madrie, reported that Ol’ Curiosities had sold between 8,500 and 9,000 copies—before release day was even over.
The OCBS crew is working around the clock to fill orders and ship special editions of the novel—complete with a certificate of authenticity and an embossment commemorating to occasion. Each copy is hand-embossed and a special collectable.
Early Reviews of Go Set a Watchman
Early reviews of the novel are mixed. Those readers and reviewers who were expecting another To Kill a Mockingbird were disappointed with the portrayal of Atticus Finch as a racist and with the sometimes clunky dialogue and exposition. Other critics, who correctly place the novel within its context—as a first draft of Lee’s first novel—are happy with the book. Go Set a Watchman, like Mockingbird, deals with important and difficult themes and carries Lee’s distinctive style, her love of language and her wit.
Alyssa Rosenberg of the Washington Post writes: “I’m pleased and not a little surprised to be able to report, however, that for all the controversy that surrounds the way it came to be published and the state in which it was found, “Go Set a Watchman” is, in fact, a complete book. And if it’s a highly uneven one, it’s still worth reading at a moment when we’re grappling yet again with Northern and Southern variations of white supremacy and the idea that good people can do poisonous things.”
More to come from Harper Lee?
Amidst the coverage of the release and sales of Go Set a Watchman, new reports surfaced of a possible third undiscovered book by Harper Lee. In an op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal, entitled “How I Found the Harper Lee Manuscript,” Harper Lee’s lawyer, Tonja Carter, mentioned that the safe deposit box in which she found Go Set a Watchman also included a significant number of pages of another typed text.
The New York Post reported that Lee’s friend, Auburn University professor and historian Wayne Flynt, knows of an unpublished book by Lee entitled “The Reverend.” This novel is a true story about a pastor who killed three people.
Writer and filmmaker Mary McDonagh Murphy documented a lunch with Harper Lee, Lee’s longtime friend and benefactor Joy Brown, Lee’s lawyer and HarperCollins president, Michael Morrison. The elderly author received a copy of her published book. Morrison describes the novel as “58 years in the making,” as he hands a thankful Lee the hardcover book. As readers around the world crack the spine of Go Set a Watchman, they are thankful to Lee for surprising us all and publishing another novel.
Did you attend the midnight release party? Have you read the novel? Let us know what you think! We’d love to hear from you.