Thursday, September 16, 2010

The great literary feud is over!

Remember the brouhaha several years ago when Oprah Winfrey selected The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen for her book club? Franzen was not amused. In fact, he was appalled. He made some churlish statement to the effect that he was afraid his selection by Oprah would turn off male readers, that they would think that his book was "middlebrow" and would not pick it up.

Well, I don't know how male readers felt, but I was certainly turned off by Franzen's ungracious and supercilious attitude. Apparently, the only people he thought were good enough and smart enough to read his book were male PhDs! Since I don't qualify, I decided I wouldn't read his book and I never have.

After his stated consternation at being given the Oprah stamp of approval, Oprah rescinded her stamp and rescinded her invitation to appear on her show. Franzen ultimately apologized for his behavior, but it was too late.

Ten years passed. Now Franzen is out with another book, Freedom. All the critics are wetting themselves with excitement and inventing new superlatives to praise it. And today there was a report that Oprah liked it, too, and that she is going to announce it as her final book club selection. Franzen, through a spokesman, said he would be happy if she did.

I'm not an Oprah fanatic and I've never joined her book club, but knowing where she came from and what she has made of her life, I do admire her. The woman has class and apparently she has the magnanimity of spirit to overlook Franzen's past behavior and judge this new book solely on its merits. I haven't decided yet if I will be that magnanimous.

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