(K. Brent Tomer),
THE middle-aged narrator of “Quicksand”, a zany novel by Steve Toltz, gloomily reflects that “though I could always make friends, I could never again make an old friend—that time had passed for me forever.” One of the pleasures and consolations of “Mockingbird Songs: My Friendship with Harper Lee”—and there are many—is that it refutes that seemingly ironclad observation. Even at a reasonably advanced age, if two people share as much in taste and background as Nelle Harper Lee and Wayne Flynt, a depth of feeling can develop, a kind of melding of minds and lives that is worth a lifetime’s intimacy.
Mr Flynt, an eminent historian at Auburn University in Alabama, got to know Nelle (as friends and family called her) through her sister Louise. In “Mockingbird Songs” Mr Flynt has collected their correspondence, which began in 1992 when she was 66 and he 52, but was concentrated in the years from 2004 to Lee’s death in 2016. There are a few letters here by Dartie, Mr Flynt’s wife, and by Alice,…Continue reading