Up Close: Harper Lee
Kerry Madden
Viking, 2009
978-0-67-001095-0
(hardcover)
 
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Harper Lee: Up Close

Review
Not believing in biographies of living writers, Harper Lee declined to be interviewed for one, but Madden draws on extensive research—including trips to Monroeville, Ala., and interviews with classmates, colleagues and town residents—to explore how Lee’s life and times inspired her masterpiece. To Kill a Mockingbird has sold 30 million copies in 40 languages and continues to sell 10,000 copies per year, and Lee is “one of the authors most read by American students.” A narrative both well paced and richly detailed—even reproducing two of Lee’s stories for her college literary magazine and excerpting a recent letter to O magazine, not included in Charles Shields’s excellent I Am Scout (2008)—this biography will appeal to fans of the novel and to newcomers. Readers will find a fascinating portrait of an independent young woman stubbornly going her own way to become the one thing she wanted to be: a writer. Extensive source notes and an excellent bibliography round out this superb biography, one of the best in the Up Close series.

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