Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Top 10 succulent Southern lines from Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman

Can we set the controversy aside for a moment and just enjoy what a masterful writer Harper Lee is? I devoured Go Set a Watchman in one sitting this morning with just the right balance of laughs out loud and lumps in my throat. The Southern dialogue and character sketches are incredibly rich, astonishingly well done when you think how young she was. As I read, I grabbed screenshots of one great line after another, just so I could revisit and wallow in her wordsmithery.

A few of my favorites:
1) "The music instructor. He taught a course in what was wrong with Southern church music. He was from New Jersey. He said we might as well be singing 'Stick your snout under the spout where the gospel comes out' ..."

2) "A bigot. Not a big one, just an ordinary turnip-sized bigot."

3) "You've turned and tackled no less than your own tin god." [Apply as needed to swirling controversy.]

4) "If you wish to continue in darkness, that is your privilege." [I can think of so many uses for this one!]

5) "There's nothing like a blood-curdling hymn to make you feel at home."

6) "Hypocrites have just as much right to live in this world as anybody."

7) "Human birth is most unpleasant. It's messy, it's extremely painful, sometimes it's a risky thing. It is always bloody. So it is with civilization."

8) "Underwood, who in his time had published memorial verses of indeterminate variety, said he still couldn't publish this one because it was blasphemous and didn't scan."

9) "Prejudice, a dirty word, and faith, a clean one, have something in common: they both begin where reason ends."

10) "Oh dear. Oh dear me, yes. The novel must tell a story."

Bonus line to keep in your hip pocket for the right opportunity: "Aunty," she said cordially, "why don't you go pee in your hat?"

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