Wall Street Journal columnist and friend of the site Allen Barra took the 50th anniversary of “To Kill a Mockingbird” to commit what plenty of Alabamians would consider an even greater sin than killing an actual mockingbird: he killed “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
“It’s time to stop pretending that ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is some kind of timeless classic that ranks with the great works of American literature,” Barra wrote last Friday in a WSJ column that also claims that, despite the PR blow to Alabams’ literary heritage, Harper Lee should not be included among the ranks of William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, and Flannery O’Connor (whom he quotes in reducing the value of “Mockingbird” to that of a nice children’s book) and other great southern writers claimed by our neighbors.
“Mockingbird” diehards seem ready to string him up; when the New York Times reviews your review, you know you’ve struck a nerve. Yet he refrains from the still greater sin of referencing the persistent rumor (not-so-irrefutably refuted by Auburn’s Wayne Flynt in a 2006 NPR interview) that Lee’s lifelong, much more prolific pal Truman Capote actually penned the Pulitzer Prize-winner.
Pat Dye, in a recent interview, did not.
Not that he realized it.
Dye’s “friendship” with Lee, arranged via relatives in Monroeville after he was re-smitten with “Mockingbird,” has recently replaced the Fall and Rise of Pat Dye’s Pants as the angle du jour for blurbs on Coach in retirement community newsletters and small-town feature sections.
Even Southern Living got on board, wrapping up a July feature on Monroeville’s commemoration of its famous hermit with a story from Dye about his catfish supper with ‘Nelle’ in 2008. Dye took the opportunity to tell her in his folksy, roundabout way that it had to have taken heart and soul to write “To Kill a Mockingbird,” not just brains.
“I told her, I said, ‘you know, ma’am, you ain’t smart enough to write a book like that,'” Dye said. “She looked at me kinda funny a little bit, but not too bad. She was looking for the next sentence.”
We’ve all been looking for the next sentence.
* Pat Dye buying sunglasses
* Muhammad Al on the Haley Center concourse
* Playboy in Auburn, 1989
* The War Eagle Jeep in Vietnam
* 78 never-before-seen photos of the Kopper Kettle explosion of 1978
* Rare candids of Pat Sullivan at the 1971 Heisman banquet
* G.I. Joe’s Auburn’s connection
* The Great Bo Jackson A-Day Race of 1984
* Crowd shots from the 1973 Auburn-Florida game
* Best reaction to being named Miss Homecoming ever
* “Buck Fama” graffiti seen in Auburn after “Punt Bama Punt”