Good Scout

From The New York Times:

‘Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee,’ by Charles J. ShieldsLee

Here is a book about a woman who knew when to get off the train. A tomboy from Monroeville, Ala., editor of her college humor magazine, The Rammer Jammer, and law school dropout, she took it on the lam to New York, got a job, made friends and managed to write a novel that hit the best-seller lists and stayed there, won a Pulitzer, got made into a major movie and became a staple of high school English along with “Romeo and Juliet” and “The Great Gatsby.” Total sales are somewhere around 30 million, and it continues to sell hundreds of thousands of copies a year.

She worked for years on a second novel, and then, in the mid-1980’s, on a book of nonfiction about a serial murder in Alabama, neither of which worked out to her satisfaction and so she squashed them. She made her peace with being a one-book author. Unlike her friend Truman Capote, she didn’t enjoy the limelight. So she backed away from celebrity, declined to be interviewed or be honorifically degreed and simply lived her life, sometimes in Manhattan, riding city buses, visiting museums and bookstores in her running suit and sneakers, seeing old friends, and most of the time in Monroeville, in a ranch house with her older sister Alice, a house full of books. Built-in bookshelves, floor to ceiling.

More here.