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Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 30. Mai 2006

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  • Gebundene Ausgabe: 337 Seiten
  • Verlag: Henry Holt; Auflage: First Edition (30. Mai 2006)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 080507919X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805079197
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 16,3 x 3,1 x 23,4 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 4.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (1 Kundenrezension)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 647.111 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)

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"Harper Lee caught the beauty of America with To Kill a Mockingbird, but has remained something of a mystery ever since. Charles J. Shields's portrait of her, Mockingbird, shows us a quietly reclusive, down-to-earth woman with an enormous gift and documents her struggle to live with that gift for the rest of her life. Shields evocation of both the woman and her beautiful, sleepy, and smoldering South are pitch perfect."--Anne River Siddons, author of Sweetwater Creek and other books

"Harper Lee's intense personal privacy sets daunting limitations for a biographer, but Charles Shields has ingeniously recovered the feel of her childhood world of Monroeville, Alabama, and the small-town Southern customs and vivid personalities that shaped her prickly independence. Detailed memories of Lee's classmates and friends are interwoven with dramatic recreations of key events and stories of her friendships and literary collaborations, all fleshing out the general narrative of her development as a novelist. Close attention to her friendship with Truman Capote and the conditions of the writing and then the filming of To Kill a Mockingbird offer special fascination."--Louise Westling, Professor of English, University of Oregon, author of Sacred Groves and Ravaged Gardens: The Fiction of Eudora Welty, Carson McCullers, and Flannery O'Connor

"If there is a great American novel, certainly To Kill a Mockingbird is it. But, for all of us who love it, its author has always been an enigma. Did Harper Lee really write this classic? And if she did, why didn't she ever write another book? And who is Harper Lee, anyway? Finally, a writer has done the necessary research to reveal the surprising answers. To every To Kill a Mockingbird reader, I send this message: The story isn't over. There's so much more to come, and you'll find it all in Charles Shields' delightful and insightful Mockingbird."--Homer Hickam, author of Rocket Boys

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Charles J. Shields is the author of And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life, Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee, the highly acclaimed, bestselling biography of Harper Lee, and I Am Scout: The Biography of Harper Lee (Henry Holt Books for Young Readers). He grew up in the Midwest and taught in a rural school in central Illinois for several years. He has been a reporter for public radio, a journalist, and the author of nonfiction books for young people. He and his wife live near Charlottesville, Virginia.


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Von Magenta am 18. Juli 2008
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
Ich bin nur zufällig auf dieses Buch gestoßen und war von der Beschreibung fasziniert. Natürlich habe ich To Kill A Mockingbird gelesen und fand dieses Buch sehr gelungen. Allerdings hatte ich mir nie darüber Gedanken gemacht, welche anderen Bücher Harper Lee produziert hat. Und es stellt sich heraus, dass es nur dieses eine Buch gibt. Mockingbird ist ein sehr gut geschriebenes Buch. Der Autor gibt sich viel Mühe, die Person Harper Lee zu erfassen sowie den langen Prozess bis zur Veröffentlichung ihres Buches. Es zeigt wieder einmal, dass man nicht eben so ein Buch schreibt, sondern dass das ein langer, kreativer aber auch sehr nüchterner Vorgang ist und dass auch Bestseller-Autoren wie Harper Lee sich oft sehr gequält haben. Sehr spannend ist auch seine Beschreibung der kuriosen Freundschaft zu Truman Capote. Die zwei Autoren könnten unterschiedlicher nicht sein und trotzdem waren sie zeitweise unzertrennlich. Während Truman Capote schon immer im Mittelpunkt stehen wollte, war Harper Lee eher jemand, der das Rampenlicht scheute. Wenn man diese Biographie liest, wird einem bewußt, warum es nur dieses eine Buch von Harper Lee gibt. Wenn man gleich beim ersten Anlauf den Gipfel erreicht (Pulitzer Preis), was soll danach noch folgen?
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95 von 102 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Clears up a lot of mistaken impressions. 26. Juni 2006
Von Dave Schwinghammer - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
Having taught TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD every year for sixteen years, I had to read this new biography of the seclusive author. The author, Charles J. Shields, who wrote it without Lee's cooperation, cleared up several mistaken impressions for me.

For one thing, I had always thought that Harper Lee was a lawyer and that was one of the reasons she hadn't written anything since TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. She did go to law school, but dropped out with a semester left to go to New York to write full time.

Shields focuses on several questions. Why did Lee not follow up the amazing success of TKAM with another novel? Did Truman Capote really write the book? Why did Nelle Harper Lee never marry?

To answer the first, she had a hundred pages of a second novel before TKAM was published, but several factors intruded on its completion. One was her obligation to promote the novel and later the movie. The second was her collaboration with Truman Capote on IN COLD BLOOD, which also answers the second question. Nelle Harper contributed more to IN COLD BLOOD than Truman Capote did TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Why she never married is inconclusive; Capote said she had a love affair with a law professor during her college years; Shields also hints that there may have been a romantic relationship with her married agent, Maurice Crain, but there's no doubt she was a tomboy and an eccentric well into her college years and never had much interest in men.

Personally, I found the section on IN COLD BLOOD most compelling. The people around Garden City and Holcomb, Kansas, found Truman Capote about as easy to like as an alien from another planet. Nelle made friends and smoothed the way for his interviews. She also took copious notes.

Another interesting element was the apparent biographical content of her novel. Dill was definitely Truman Capote, who lived right next door in Monroeville, Alabama. There was a real Boo Radley; Atticus, of course, was based on her father, A.C.; Aunt Alexandra was modeled after her mother. The name Finch came from her mother's maiden name. Then there's the movie. Originally, Nelle wanted Spencer Tracy to play Atticus. It's also interesting to see how the focus of the movie changed from the children to Atticus and the Tom Robinson trial.

A shortcoming of the book is that Shields was never able to find out what the supposed second novel was about. Lee also tried to write a non-fiction book based on insurance scam murders where the man who committed them kept getting off. Shields says that the book was supposedly in production, but nothing ever came of it. Shields is forced to rely on a lot of hearsay because of Nelle's reluctance to be interviewed. For instance, a family member said that the second book was stolen during a burglary, and Nelle didn't have the heart to start over again.

For me, it was most instructive to follow Lee's early years in New York. Eventually she met the right people, Maurice Cain and her editor from Lippincott, but she spent almost ten years working as an airline ticket agent and fumbling with a series of sketches about Monroeville before Theresa von Hohoff whipped her project into shape. Not surprisingly, when von Hohoff and Cain died, Lee completely lost her will to pursue her literary ambitions
52 von 55 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
A rare look into the life of Harper Lee 7. Juni 2006
Von Bookreporter - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Since its initial publication in 1960, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD has sold over 30 million copies worldwide and continues to sell almost a million annually. It is taught in 74% of schools across the country. Its film adaptation is heralded as one of the finest movies of all time and its lead character, Atticus Finch, was hailed by the American Film Institute as the "greatest hero in a hundred years of American film history" in 2003. With this enormous success, why then is so little known about its author, Harper Lee? And why has she never published another book? Through much research, journalist Charles J. Shields attempts to illuminate the enigmatic woman born Nelle Harper Lee in this extensive new biography.

Delving into Lee's early years, from her beginnings in Monroeville, Alabama, we begin to see her earliest influences that would shape her career-defining work. Life at home included her father, A.C. Lee, the venerable attorney and newspaperman (he was the model for Atticus), her depressed and remote mother, a brother who would die in the war, and her headstrong older sister, Alice, who worked as an attorney at the family firm. Many long afternoons were spent making up stories with her pixie-like neighbor and playmate, Truman Persons (later Truman Capote). Lee was to join the family firm as well, but once she worked on the literary magazine at the University of Alabama, she knew her greatest dream was to go to New York, much like her friend Truman did, and become a writer.

From her early days in New York, working many jobs to pay the bills and attempting to write on the side, a portrait of the author starts to take shape through older interviews given by Lee (she had pretty much stopped giving interviews by 1964), documented research, such as the exhaustive Capote Papers from the New York Public Library, and correspondence with friends. Had it not been for a generous gift from her friends Michael and Joy Brown, MOCKINGBIRD might never have existed. Lee had been slowly assembling a story that at times had been called GO SET A WATCHMAN and then ATTICUS, but then the Browns gave her the gift of "one year off" so she could write her book: a gift she repaid to her generous friends once her first novel, now titled TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, was accepted by the publisher, Lippincott & Company.

During this time, she accepted her friend Truman Capote's offer to accompany him to Garden City, Kansas, in the capacity of "assistant researcher" while he wrote about the seemingly random murder of the Clutter family in rural Holcomb for The New Yorker. It was supposed to be about how a small town bears up after such a tragedy, but it soon became more. Once the killers were apprehended and Capote began to interview them, it became clear that he felt some sort of strange bond with Perry Smith, one of the killers --- a bond that one could argue was the beginning of the end for Capote. Although he politely thanked Nelle for her help and shared the dedication of what became the "nonfiction novel" IN COLD BLOOD with her and his longtime lover, Jack Dunphy, many felt Capote never gave Lee her proper due. If it weren't for her down-home charm and wit, making friends with the wives of important investigators on the case, the pair never would have gained the access that enabled Capote to write such a compelling tome. And perhaps later on, when she was being heralded as the next literary beacon, there was a twinge of jealousy on Capote's part.

Even when rumors surfaced claiming Capote wrote most of MOCKINGBIRD for Lee, he never strenuously denied them. (Shields points out that the many letters between Lee and her agents and editor categorically quash those rumors as well as the simple fact that Capote was not known for keeping secrets. If he had indeed written the book, once it became a bestseller, he would have been the first to admit it. Given all the research it seems clear that Capote read it and offered some advice on where it could be edited.) After the IN COLD BLOOD years, the two remained friends but their friendship was never the same.

But nothing, not even her close friendship with Capote, could have prepared Lee for literary superstardom. Perhaps she lacked the naked ambition of her old playmate. A somewhat quiet individual to begin with (although friends say she has a wicked sense of humor), the glare of the media spotlight, the endless interviews and the pressure for a new book overwhelmed her. She bristled at the constant attention and scrutiny and retreated more and more to life as a private citizen, dividing her time between New York and her family home in Monroeville, which she still does to this day. When asked by a young relative why she had never written another book, she confided, "When you're at the top there's only one way to go."

In MOCKINGBIRD, Shields has assembled quite an informative biography of an enigmatic but truly influential writer, despite the fact that Lee herself has chronically shunned any offers for interviews throughout the years. It's hard to paint an accurate portrait when the subject won't sit for the painter. But given that fact, Shields does an admirable job of illuminating a writer who shuns the limelight. He clearly demonstrates just how much her sole work has contributed to American literature as we know it but also highlights her important contribution to Capote's IN COLD BLOOD.

Given his obvious affection for the author and the many years spent researching her, it is peculiar that Shields chooses to end the biography on a sour note, with a representative from the Equal Justice Initiative essentially denouncing the novel's importance. But since Lee has never authorized nor is likely to ever authorize her own biography, no one can truly know her. MOCKINGBIRD: A Portrait of Harper Lee is the closest we've come so far.

--- Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller
57 von 62 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Visiting Harper 17. Juni 2006
Von James Hiller - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Shields claims througout his new "portrait" of Harper Lee that her stand alone classic "To Kill a Mockingbird" is second only to the Bible when people talk about what books have affected their lives.

Truth be told, I easily fall into that category as well. First assigned to me as a high school reading requirement in my sophomore Honors English class, little do I remember of the intial experience of first entering Maycomb, and spending some quality time with her residents. I remember a 50 question test at the end of the book which nitpicked certain details to death to prove whether or not we read it. It wasn't until I turned 30 again that I revisted this book, and reread as an adult, without a looming test in my mind, that I truly entered Maycomb, and met Scout, Jem, Atticus, and I daresay, felt the book. Now, I reread Mockingbird about once a year, re-watch the film once a year (it, too, is one of my all-time favorite flickers), and let its lessons wash over me like the mighty Mississippi.

I've always been hungry for information on Harper Lee, real name Nell. I knew she lives life in Monroeville, AL, doesn't talk to anyone about her book, and never wrote another. I knew about a possible law school background, and a few short stories. I thought that Atticus was modeled on her own father. Beyond that, I yearned to know more about this very private woman, possibly just to know how she produced the most important book written in the twentieth century. Charles Shields' new book attempts to do that, in a not necessarily biography, but portrait, of Harper Lee.

Shields' task is daunting, as he readily admits early on. Little information exists that is new on Lee, and Sheild's takes from whatever he can to compose his book. As he admits, this information is hardly new, so he relies heavily on old friends, aquaintances, and people who knew Nelle to build on his story. Like the docents of Monroeville that work extremely hard to protect Nelle's privacy, that information is somewhat scant, and not very revealing.

He slowly builds his story from her childhood, as it is clear that's what the majority of his fact finding lies. By the time Nelle reaches New York, we're about almost halfway through the tome. He addresses what he can about how she came to write Mockingbird, but again, scant for this reader hungry to know more. By the time Mockingbird approaches its final form, Shields switches to Truman Capote's intial research into his amazing book, "In Cold Blood", and Nelle's role in that project. By the time you finish reading that, the remaining years of Nelle's life, up untiil her 80th birthday, fly by with a quick blink.

But you know what? I loved every minute of it. Why? Again, back to the hunger. Mockingbird affects my life daily, my interaction with people, how I view the world. Of course I want to know how this woman created the seminal masterpiece of the last 100 years. Any information is welcome, including, this sketchy portrait.

However, it's clear that Nelle wishes privacy, that's she has said all that she probably will say about Mockingbird. She believes the book stands on its own, and says what it says about what it says. I respect that. In our mass media, video dominated "standing in the eye of the hurricane", 24 hour news world we live in, that is a trait to be respected and admired. And as much as I would love to know more about Nelle and her fabulous book, in reality, all I would ever want to say to her is two simple words: thank you.
13 von 13 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
A surprising read.... 30. Mai 2006
Von Robert Busko - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Of course, like many other admirers of To Kill A Mockingbird, I've always been a little surprised at how private Nelle Harper Lee managed to be. Lets face it, she is the author of perhaps the most beloved novel of the twentieth century, and she has managed to stay out of the publics eye for all these years. Interesting.

Charles J. Shields, author of Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee must be congratulated on his tenacity. He received no help from the reclusive Ms Lee or her family. Still, Shields has manages to write a curiously insightful book not only about Ms Lee but also about the making of the movie To Kill a Mockingbird. In fact, reading Shield's Mockingbird is a little like standing on the street in front of the Finch home, waiting for Jem or Scout(Jean Louise) to come out and play or for Atticus to come home from his office.

There are other tidbits included that I simply didn't know. For example I had no idea that Nelle Lee was a research assistant to Truman Capote or that Atticus Finch was based upon Nelle Lees father, A. C. Lee. There are other surprising finds between the covers of Mockingbird that I'll let you discover on your own.

Shields must be a masterful researcher in his own right because he does a good job. One can't help but wonder, however, at how much better the book might have been had he had the help of Ms Lee and significant others. Oh well....

The book is a great I will, of course, go back and read again To Kill a Mockingbird. Will it be better because of Mockingbird? I doubt it.

I highly recommend Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee.
12 von 12 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Great book! 1. November 2006
Von D. Berger - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
If you're at all interested in Harper Lee the author, her relationship with Truman Capote and why she never wrote another book, this is a great profile. The author really did his research. but also writes in a very fluid, entertaining way.
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