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A Guy's Moleskine Notebook

Thoughts and reflections on works of fiction and literature. Pondering of life through pictures and words. Babbling about gay rights. Travelogues and anecdotes.

  • [1] Annie Proulx: Brokeback Mountain
  • [2] Arthur Golden: Memoirs of a Geisha
  • [3] Yu Hua: To Live
  • [4] Alan Hollinghurst: The Line of Beauty
  • [5] Colm Toibin: The Master
  • [6] Carlos Ruiz Zafon: The Shadow of the Wind
  • [7] William James: The Varieties of Religious Experience
  • [8] Charles Higham: The Civilization of Angkor
  • [9] Graham Greene: A Burnt-Out Case
  • [10] Dai Sijie: Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch
  • [11] Alan Hollinghurst: The Swimming-Pool Library
  • [12] Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita
  • [13] Colm Toibin: The Blackwater Lightship
  • [14] Alan Hollinghurst: The Folding Star
  • [15] Ross King: Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
  • [16] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov
  • [17] Jonathan Franzen: The Corrections
  • [18] Colm Toibin: The Story of the Night
  • [19] John Banville: Shroud
  • [20] Leo Tolstoy: Resurrection
  • [21] Peter Hessler: River Town, Two Years on the Yangtze
  • [22] Ian McEwan: The Atonement
  • [24] Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love in the Time of Cholera
  • [25] Ignacio Padilla: Shadow without a Name
  • [26] Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose
  • [27] Richard Russo: Straight Man
  • [28] Fyodor Dostoevsky: Notes from Underground
  • [29] Alan Hollinghurst: The Spell
  • [30] Hermann Broch: The Death of Virgil
  • [31] James Baldwin: Giovanni's Room
  • [32] Ken Kesey: One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • [33] Xingjian Gao: One Man's Bible
  • [34] C. Jay Cox: Latter Days
  • [35] Harper Lee: To Kill A Mockingbird
  • [36] William Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew
  • [37] Daniel A. Helminiak: What The Bible Really Says about Homosexuality
  • [38] James Baldwin: Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone
  • [39] Kenji Yoshino: Covering - The Hidden Assault of Civil Rights
  • [40] Italo Calvino: If, On a Winter's Night A Traveler
  • [41] Arthur Phillips: The Egyptologist
  • [42] George Orwell: 1984
  • [43] Michael Warner: The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and Ethics of Queer Life
  • [44] Andrew Sullivan: Virtually Normal
  • [45] Henry James: The Wings of the Dove
  • [46] Jose Saramago: Blindness
  • [47] Umberto Eco: The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
  • [48] Dan Brown: Da Vinci Code
  • [49] Kazuo Ishiguro: Never Let Me Go
  • [50] Ken Follett: The Pillars of Earth
  • [51] Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace
  • [52] Michael Thomas Ford: Alec Baldwin Doesn't Like Me
  • [53] Jonathan Franzen: How To Be Alone
  • [54] Jonathan Lethem: The Fortress of Solitude
  • [55] Matthew Pearl: The Dante Club
  • [56] Zadie Smith: White Teeth
  • [57] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Double
  • [58] Jose Saramago: The Double
  • [59] Andrew Holleran: Dancer from the Dance
  • [60] Heinrich von Kleist: The Marquise of O & Other Stories
  • [61] Andrew Holleran: In September, the Light Changes
  • [62] Tom Perrotta: Little Children
  • March 25, 2006


    [35] To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee

    One of the most unforgettable stories of all time, To Kill A Mockingbird becomes a landmark novel in American literature since its publication in 1960. It is a novel of a lawyer, Atticus, in the deep south defending a black man Tom Robinson charged with the rape of a white girl. Nine-years-old Jean Louise Atticus, from whom her father always shelters and whom neighbors often deems too young to understand the racial struggle, narrates the story. She does it with a stark manner and equanimity of an adult who is savvy of the law. Her perspective is unbridled of the biased and disapproving voices of the town, of which nobody does even one thing to help Tom Robinson, let alone risking one’s own life to defend a black man who in the secret courts of men’s hearts have no case. That simply being a black yields a disadvantage in the jury’s deliberation let alone a black man who is allegedly convicted of an act of felony against a white person. Tom Robinson is dead as the girl opens her mouth and rains charges on him.

    A child’s narration cuts to the core of hypocrisy: some of the most religious people turn their blind eye to an innocent black man who in the absence of any corroborative evidence is indicted on a capital charge and is on the trial of his life. Jean Louise’s voice of the narrative might be hesitant, dubious, and questioning, she packs the novel with intimate voice of conversation, of people living and sorting out their lives and the whole racial entangle. Atticus therefore bears a formidable task to not only defend Tom Robinson but also to rebuff, with a righteous indignation, the inveterate discrimination against the blacks. He thrives to protect the children from absorbing the human ugliness: Why can’t people get along with each other? Who do people get out of their way to despise one another? What really scares me is such racial labeling still exists now but in a subtler manner that no longer makes people feel broken. In the recent Katrina news coverage, the media labeled a black woman who waded through the hip-deep water hurling supplies out of a store a looter. Racial labeling pervades people like babies born with basic instincts: it renders a stereotype that is culpable of perception that is laden with judgment.

    Atticus knows that Tom Robinson’s case, though it is as simple as black and white that it should never have come to trial, is something that dives right into the essence of a man’s conscience. Conscience is the one thing that does not abide by the majority rule. It transcends all racial difference and confronts the intimacy of one’s heart. That is the reason he wishes his children to embrace some “ugly things” that are concomitant of his defending a black man – for all he does is to abide by his conscience and to come clear of it. It is never an insult to be called what somebody thinks is a bad name, especially when one is defending a good cause against mendacious testimony. It just shows how poor and piteous people are when they with maddening superiority thrive to label and call name at others.

    To Kill A Mockingbird vehemently condemns those who recklessly bend the law at the expense of the innocent’s life for the satisfaction of one’s supremacy. It also satirizes self-righteous people who rave madly when anything involving a black person occurs. Every page of the novel reminds us that the fight for equality is yet over: it radiates a wave of racial tension and menacing undertow of conflict.


    Blogger Jef said...

    We read this novel in high school, but after recently seeing "Capote," I've thought about reading it again. I remember it being one of the few great adaptations of a novel into a film. There is a rumor that Truman Capote ghost wrote this for Harper Lee, but after reading interviews with her, I'm not sure I believe that. She's sounds like she is a very capable woman

    3/26/2006 6:44 PM  
    Blogger Matt said...

    I think Dill in "To Kill A Mockingbird" is Capote, the idea dawns on me when I was sitting in the movie.

    3/26/2006 7:31 PM  
    Blogger piksea said...

    I'm almost positive that Dill is Capote. I saw 'Capote' right after reading Mockingbird and In Cold Blood and it felt like that bit of knowledge just jumped out at me. He fits perfectly, the home life and coming to live next door with the aunt.

    It's nice to see that I'm not the only one who thought that.

    3/28/2006 8:10 AM  
    Blogger Matt said...


    "Dill was a curiosity. He wore blue linen shorts that buttoned to his shirt, his hair was snow white and stuck to his head like duckfluff; he was a year my senior but I towered over him. As he told us the old tale his blue eyes would lighten and darken; his laugh was sudden and happy; he habitually pulled at a cowlick in the center of his forehead."

    In his childhood Capote made friends with Harper Lee, who might have portrayed him as Dill in her world famous novel To Kill a Mockingbird.

    3/28/2006 10:33 AM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I think that To Kill a Mockingbird is a great book and movie that show the true injustice and prejudice of the south back then.

    10/20/2006 6:54 AM  

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