Remembering Harper Lee

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I have been thinking about the release of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman. I met Truman Capote in the early seventies, just as he began his downward spiral, and unwittingly again in the late 80’s when I was talking to Joanna Carson about canine epilepsy. Yeah. Long story for another time.

Truman was staying at a high-dollar alcohol rehab center in Colorado.  My good friend, known on the streets as Listerine Fred, had finagled his way into the center, which was quite a step up from his usual dreadful skid row drying out rooms. Truman took Fred under his wing and encouraged him to write a biography, and when it was completed, Truman said he would help him publish it.

Fred dried out and began writing. He wrote, I critiqued, and Truman commented. I know Harper Lee was around in some of those Friday night tête-à-têtes in the penthouse hospital, but oddly, I only remember her form, not face. All this was going on while I was recovering for the last time from alcohol and bad ideas.  Getting the alcohol out was the easy part. I never completely recovered from the bad ideas, however.

Anyway, a few months later, Truman returned to California, Fred finished his manuscript of hundreds of pages hand written on yellow legal paper, and mailed his labor of love to Truman.  Fred never heard back from him, and it depressed him so severely that he committed suicide.

I do remember Harpers soft voice from the shadows.  I can see why Truman clung to her …

soft voice from the shadows.  I can see why Truman clung to her …

Yeah … I suspect that I will read it …

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