Best of the Day: Go Set a Watchman Debuts – July 13, 2015

Harvard Book Store hosts midnight release party for the first Harper Lee novel published in 55 years; plus, the Brattle screens To Kill a Mockingbird.

Welcome to Best of the Day, our daily recommendation for what to check out around town. If you do one thing in Boston today, consider this.

Cover of <i>Go Set a Watchman</i>

Cover of Go Set a Watchman

Last year, a strange clanking noise reverberated around the nation. It was the sound of legions of book nerds’ jaws dropping at the revelation that a lost manuscript by Harper Lee had been discovered. Previously, the notoriously reclusive Lee had been been known to publish only one novel: 1960’s Pulitzer Prize-winning To Kill a Mockingbird.

The new novel, Go Set a Watchman, is narrated by a 26-year-old Scout Finch in the post-Brown v. Board of Education 1950s, whereas Mockingbird took place in the 1930s. And it’s rather controversial, considering that it upends the half-century-long image of Atticus Finch as an unassailable defender of equality, and instead reveals him to be a racist who once attended a Klan meeting. But lest you think this is some strange retcon, in fact, this is supposedly the novel that Lee first submitted to publishers in the summer of 1957—and after a request for a rewrite, she later turned in what became Mockingbird instead.

Soon, a moment 55 years in the making will materialize, as Watchman drops on July 14. And to celebrate, the Harvard Book Store is staying open late to sell you this lost gem (Jem?) as soon as the clock strikes 12.

To help you get into the spirit, the Brattle is screening To Kill a Mockingbird, the 1962 classic starring Gregory Peck as Atticus—yet another reason we love this local indie cinema.

Screening of To Kill a Mockingbird: July 13, 9:30 p.m., Brattle Theatre, 40 Brattle St., Cambridge, 617-876-6837,; book release for Go Set a Watchman: July 14, 12 a.m., Harvard Book Store 1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-661-1515,