The Guardian just published the first chapter of Harper Lee's second novel, Go Set a Watchman, on a page loaded with animation and "ambient sound" and an audio version of the text read by Reese Witherspoon. It positively reeks of overkill. And how's the chapter? As you may have expected, it's really not very good; some of the writing is painfully awkward.

“Hush, girl,” he said, holding her face in place. “I’ll kiss you on the courthouse steps if I want to.” The possessor of the right to kiss her on the courthouse steps was Henry Clinton, her lifelong friend, her brother’s comrade, and if he kept on kissing her like that, her husband. Love whom you will but marry your own kind was a dictum amounting to instinct within her. Henry Clinton was Jean Louise’s own kind, and now she did not consider the dictum particularly harsh.

Ouch. So contrived and so repetitive; this has none of the simple charm of Lee's earlier work. I decided some time ago that I wasn't going to read Watchman. It's not that the experience would destroy To Kill a Mockingbird for me or anything so dramatic as that. Really, I'd just rather not have to write a negative review of a Harper Lee book.