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Residents Of Harper Lee's Hometown Celebrate 'Go Set A Watchman'


It seems as if no one slept last night in Monroeville, Ala. They were too busy reading, or at least celebrating the arrival of a new book, Harper Lee's second novel, "Go Set A Watchman." Monroeville is Lee's hometown. It's also the model for the fictional town of Maycomb, the setting of her new book and the beloved "To Kill A Mockingbird." From the heart of the party, we're joined by Spencer Madrie, owner of the Ol' Curiosities and Book Shoppe which started selling Harper Lee's new book at midnight. Spencer Madrie, welcome to the program.


CORNISH: So describe how you've set up the bookstore for this event. You know, describe the scene for us.

MADRIE: We had some vintage lighting hung out on the front lawn going to a light post and a little tent off to the side of the porch. And then we had an Atticus Finch impersonator that joined us and entertained everybody and got his picture made with people. And it really made people feel comfortable and at home. We have plenty of seating for everybody that might have trouble, you know, standing for a long time. It was just a really nice event and really nice night.

CORNISH: Can you describe the turnout? What kinds of people were coming to buy the book?

MADRIE: We had people from all over the world come. We had a couple people from Europe. They came specifically to our event. As soon as they heard about it, they got tickets and flew in. We also had people all the way from Oregon, as far as - that's the farthest in states that I know of. Harper Lee fans from all over came here to get their book from here and to see the town of Maycomb that they remember from "To Kill A Mockingbird."

CORNISH: And I understand you're actually giving them a chance to reach out to Harper Lee, right?

MADRIE: Yes, we have a bin where they can write their notes or thoughts or thank-yous to Harper Lee. And those will get to her. We've already made that possible through the people that she knows. And she will read all those notes and stuff, so we'll get those to her probably at the end of the week. And we were assured that she loves to read all of her letters.

CORNISH: And I understand if they get a book from the store, they're getting a special copy, right? You guys have marked them?

MADRIE: Yes. It is a special copy. It's embossed by hand with a certificate saying it's from Monroeville, which is Harper Lee's hometown.

CORNISH: Well, Spencer Madrie, thank you so much for speaking with us, and best of luck.

MADRIE: All right. Thank you very much.

CORNISH: That was Spencer Madrie in Monroeville, Ala. His store, the Ol' Curiosities and Book Shoppe, started selling Harper Lee's new book, "Go Set A Watchman," at midnight, and he's been partying ever since. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.