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Novelist Mark Childress ("Crazy in Alabama," "Georgia Bottoms") happened to be born in Monroeville, Alabama – the town Harper Lee called Maycomb when she wrote about it in the classic "To Kill a Mockingbird." For years, as a journalist, Childress was told to pursue an interview with the famously reclusive author, who refused all entreaties. The first essay describes the importance of Harper Lee's novel to the Southern fiction of today, and explores the question of why Harper Lee prefers to remain a figure of mystery. (The author did not meet Miss Lee until after writing this article.) In 2014, Childress received the "Harper Lee Award for Alabama's Distinguished Writer." The second essay is adapted from his remarks.

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