by Harper Lee
From time to time, we offer free editorial space to common folk with something to say. Today a famous author discusses her reasons for remaining silent for so many years.
I know there’s all sorts of excitement about the 50th anniversary of my only book, To Kill a Mockingbird. And I understand that with all of these celebrations there will once again be plenty of attention paid to the fact that I’m a private person who has refused to give an interview for many years. I have, over that time, made peace with the whole thing. You learn to, after a while.
A few years back, when they brought out a new edition of Mockingbird with what was billed as a “new introduction by the author” I was a little put off. First of all, it wasn’t anything new, and in any case I’m not a fan of Introductions. Introductions inhibit pleasure, they kill the joy of anticipation, they frustrate curiosity. The only good thing about Introductions is that in some cases they delay the dose to come. Mockingbird still says what it has to say; it has managed to survive the years without preamble. Or at least that’s what I believe, anyway; those so-and-sos at HarperCollins must have disagreed with me, because they ran an old letter of mine and claimed it as such. I learned right then that it doesn’t much matter. It’s a book for young people, who will take to it their own way. They always see new things in it. And the way they relate it to their lives now is really quite incredible.
The whole experience got me thinking: Why not end my silence? I know it’s put about in the press that the reason I don’t do interviews anymore is because I’ve been unhappy in the past with the way I’ve been misquoted. And that is partly true. But I’ve also been holding back a terrible secret all these years that I feared would somehow come up with some sharp reporter and cause me terrible shame. But what the hell. I’m an old lady now. I’ve got nothing to be embarrassed about. So here it goes.
I, Harper Lee, am a squirter.
That’s right: When I have an orgasm a small amount of liquid shoots out of my vagina. (Although, good heavens, it’s been years since I’ve had one of those.) Anyway, yes, for a long time I lived in fear that the truth would be revealed, but you know what? I wrote one of the greatest novels of the 20th century. More children have read my book, and have been deeply moved by it and forced to confront their own prejudices and those of their family, than any other work of art that I can think of. So when I get off I shoot a little. Big deal. Men do it all the time. I don’t know what I have to feel bad about.
Whew! What a relief it has been to get that off my delicate Southern bosom. All you squirters out there, listen up: Be proud of who you are and what you have achieved. I wrote To Kill a Mockingbird. I’m sure you’ve done something just as worthy in your own field. Do not let crippling shame keep you quiet for as long as I have done. You are someone important. I appreciate your patience in my taking so long to talk about this. I feel completely liberated now.
Also, all of you who think Truman Capote really wrote my book? Suck my squirt.
Harper Lee is the author of To Kill a Mockingbird, which turns 50 this year.