Saturday, August 9, 2008

I Am Scout by Charles J Shields

I Am Scout is about Nelle, which is Ellen spelled backward. Truman Streckfus Persons is her best friend. The book has several fact ingots about these fascinating people. If the reader wasn't aware the accomplishments of Nelle Harper Lee or Truman Capote as adults, much of the significance is lost because so much is taken for granted and not explained. The books needs more editing and citations. The author makes assumptions and observations without context or background to explain. For example, p 15, Mrs. Lee is described as "a 'brilliant woman,' killing time by playing the piano for hours or reading [which] is a sad portrait of a creative person with no outlet...Today her condition would probably be diagnosed as manic-depression" -- yet there is no citation backing up this diagnosis. Yet later on the page, eating watermelon and talking to people from the porch was cited. The observation "But actually her folks were upper-middle class" doesn't seem contrary to the description of Nelle and that bias seems out of kilter with quality non-fiction. The author appears to have conducted considerable research, but it was not seamlessly integrated into the narrative. NAY

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