« ENERGIZING THE FRENCH | Main | WIKI-OED »

March 29, 2007

Comments

Martha Southgate

I have long gotten into arguments with people when I defend Oprah's book club and her selection of McCarthy's latest gives me convincing further ammo. If you look at the list of all the books she picked when the book club was most active, yes, some of them were treacly, girly uplift, no doubt about it. But many more of them were fine works of contemporary fiction such as Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye and A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. And can you say Anna Karenina and Light in August? Oprah's book club readers can (she picked those too).

The woman has taste, incredible influence and she loves reading. More power to her. Have fun reading The Road, America!

Barthelola

To my chagrin, most of the novels I read from the Oprah Book Club (back in it's more "pop-ish days") were really fine books. And I was very happy when she started going the more classic lit. route with Anna Karenina and East of Eden, etc. Glad she's chosen another good one.

BUT ... I think that there should be a law against "un-reclusing" reclusive writers.

Lincoln

"

Oprah's selection of Cormac McCarthy's brililant The Road goes a helluva long way toward dispelling some long-held notions about what constitutes an "Oprah book." "


I think most people realize that Oprah does indeed pick good, even excellent, literary books sometimes. I mean, hell, she picked One Hundred Years of Solitude not to mention Toni Morrison and Franzen.

But I'd say books like these are the exceptions more than the rule.

It is a hard call to say if Oprah's club is good or bad for literature. I'd probably lean towards good as I imagine many of her viewers don't read fiction normally, so she is at least making them do that.

Lincoln

I do applaud Oprah for getting back into the contemporary fiction world. Modern literature needs all the help it can get and picking people like McCarthy is better than going with safe classics most of us read in high school.

On a totally unrelated note, the continued success of Cormac McCarthy recently for someone reason reminded me of that poorly argued "Reader's Manifesto" that came in Harpers or the Atlantic or someplace a few years ago. I remember him arguing that McCarthy was a hack that only literary snobs liked and who wouldn't be remembered down the road, unlike genre authors like L'amour. But, hell, its been about 40 years since McCarthy's first book and here we have one selected for Oprah's book club.

Olly

If only she didn't feel the need to slap her name on the cover. There's something unsettling about an Oprah Approval sticker on the cover of someone else's work. "This is acceptable: read and discuss."

If she tried to put her name on an Explosions in the Sky album, all hell would break loose.

But there it is, atop Tolstoy, and...crickets, no?

Cooms

All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone is an instant masterpiece.

bookbinds


I certainly don't agree with all of Oprah's book choices but I certainly admire what she is doing. Her summer of Faulkner effort certainly introduced Faulkner to many people who would never otherwise read his work.

Steven Augustine

She's a tricky one, that Oprah...I'll give her that.

The comments to this entry are closed.

TEV DEFINED


  • The Elegant Variation is "Fowler’s (1926, 1965) term for the inept writer’s overstrained efforts at freshness or vividness of expression. Prose guilty of elegant variation calls attention to itself and doesn’t permit its ideas to seem naturally clear. It typically seeks fancy new words for familiar things, and it scrambles for synonyms in order to avoid at all costs repeating a word, even though repetition might be the natural, normal thing to do: The audience had a certain bovine placidity, instead of The audience was as placid as cows. Elegant variation is often the rock, and a stereotype, a cliché, or a tired metaphor the hard place between which inexperienced or foolish writers come to grief. The familiar middle ground in treating these homely topics is almost always the safest. In untrained or unrestrained hands, a thesaurus can be dangerous."

SECOND LOOK

  • The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald

    Bs

    Penelope Fitzgerald's second novel is the tale of Florence Green, a widow who seeks, in the late 1950s, to bring a bookstore to an isolated British town, encountering all manner of obstacles, including incompetent builders, vindictive gentry, small minded bankers, an irritable poltergeist, but, above all, a town that might not, in fact, want a bookshop. Fitzgerald's prose is spare but evocative – there's no wasted effort and her work reminds one of Hemingway's dictum that every word should fight for its right to be on the page. Florence is an engaging creation, stubbornly committed to her plan even as uncertainty regarding the wisdom of the enterprise gnaws at her. But The Bookshop concerns itself, finally, with the astonishing vindictiveness of which provincials are capable, and, as so much English fiction must, it grapples with the inevitabilities of class. It's a dense marvel at 123 pages, a book you won't want to – or be able to – rush through.
  • The Rider by Tim Krabbe

    Rider_4

    Tim Krabbé's superb 1978 memoir-cum-novel is the single best book we've read about cycling, a book that will come closer to bringing you inside a grueling road race than anything else out there. A kilometer-by-kilometer look at just what is required to endure some of the most grueling terrain in the world, Krabbé explains the tactics, the choices and – above all – the grinding, endless, excruciating pain that every cyclist faces and makes it heart-pounding rather than expository or tedious. No writer has better captured both the agony and the determination to ride through the agony. He's an elegant stylist (ably served by Sam Garrett's fine translation) and The Rider manages to be that rarest hybrid – an authentic, accurate book about cycling that's a pleasure to read. "Non-racers," he writes. "The emptiness of those lives shocks me."