Book news: Harper Lee says new biography is unauthorized

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

Author Harper Lee smiles during a 2007 ceremony in Montgomery, Ala.
Author Harper Lee smiles during a 2007 ceremony in Montgomery, Ala.
Rob Carr
  • Former Chicago Tribune reporter Marja Mills says her just-released biography of Harper Lee, The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee, was written with "the trust, support and encouragement" of Lee and her older sister, Alice. But in a statement this week, the 88-year-old Lee countered, "Rest assured, as long as I am alive any book purporting to be with my cooperation is a falsehood." In 2004, Mills moved next door in Monroeville, Ala., and befriended the sisters, who, according to the book's description, "decided to let Mills tell their story." Lee says that, in fact, she "cut off all contact" with Mills after realizing her intentions: "It did not take long to discover Marja's true mission: another book about Harper Lee. I was hurt, angry and saddened, but not surprised." Mills points to a letter from Alice that "makes clear that Nelle Harper Lee and Alice gave me their blessing." In her statement, Lee notes that her sister "would have been 100 years old" when that letter was written.

  • Marvel comics superhero and God of Thunder Thor is now a woman, Marvel announced Tuesday. As the Two-Way blog reported, series writer Jason Aaron said in the announcement: "This is not She-Thor. This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is THOR. This is the THOR of the Marvel Universe. But it's unlike any Thor we've ever seen before." Marvel says that the new Thor "aims to speak directly to an audience that long was not the target for superhero comic books in America: women and girls." The new Thor will debut in October.

  • Marie-Helene Bertino's forthcoming novel 2 A.M. at the Cat's Pajamas is excerpted in Guernica: "Georgie's apartment hovers over the corner of 13th and Spruce like a brick exclamation point, between Pine's sleepy antique shops and the tattooed disinterest of South. When she bought it, they toasted her new life: the boutique she was about to open, the marriage. The exclamation then was: the world is kind enough to allow all things! The boutique closed after ten months of vacuuming the carpet early. The marriage ended after five months of fretful sex. The exclamation now is: I am petrified!"

  • In Humanities, David Skinner considers the origins of cool: "The linguistic aspect of cool was more than a question of learning the right lingo. Language was a central metaphor for what it meant to be transformed by black culture and music. "I was maneuvering for a new language that would make me shout out loud and romp onto glory," wrote [saxaphonist Mezz] Mezzrow. 'What I needed was the vocabulary.' "

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