March 29, 2007


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!


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.



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.


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.


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?


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


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.

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