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Penny Weaver, Associated Press
In this May 19, 2010 photo provided by Penny Weaver, author Nelle Harper Lee speaks with friends Wayne Greenhaw, left, and actress Mary Badham, during a visit in Lee's assisted living room in Monroeville, Ala.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A longtime friend who visited "To Kill a Mockingbird" author Harper Lee the day before the world learned she would release a sequel says she seemed perfectly sound of mind.

Historian Wayne Flynt said communicating with Lee often involves shouting so she can hear. But he dismissed theories that Lee is senile and was manipulated into publishing the decades-old manuscript. He said the 88-year-old discusses the books of C.S. Lewis, reads with a magnifying machine and can crack jokes.

Flynt visited with Lee on Monday at the assisted living facility where she lives in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama. That was a day before HarperCollins Publishers announced the publication of "Go Set a Watchman."

Flynt said Lee did not mention the new book during the visit.