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Oprah ends book club.
April 5, 2002 8:46 AM   Subscribe

Oprah ends book club. According to Publishers Weekly: "Today Oprah Winfrey announced on her program that she is ending Oprah's Book Club as it currently exists." (Sorry - only news so far is in email, no direct link to story yet.)

In other news, American publishing collapses. Jonathan Franzen abducted by angry horde of struggling novelists, is strung up by his genitals in Times Square.
posted by busbyism (57 comments total)

 
I don't mean to be harsh, but here's a thought: wait till there is a link, then post it. What is this, a sprint? There's a particular site I've been wanting to link to for more than a month now, but I can't because it's not online yet (I'm not kidding!). And when it does come online, if I don't happen to be the person that links it, that won't be a crisis in my life.

As it stands, we have no link to click on here, except the main page of oprah.com- and for what it's worth, the website suggests no signs of the Book Club disappearing.
posted by hincandenza at 8:58 AM on April 5, 2002


i dont really see, watch, follow Oprah, so whats the fuss about her book club?
posted by monkeyJuice at 9:09 AM on April 5, 2002


wait till there is a link, then post it

I have to agree.

i dont really see, watch, follow Oprah, so whats the fuss about her book club?

Well, her club is enormously popular to the extent that it makes the book industry tons and tons of money. Her book club picks result in hundreds of copies being sold at every Barnes and Noble. Whether the picks are good or bad, they get sold. It's a dream come true for publishers.

The fact that she's quitting may negatively impact the book industry (financially, at least). I think the affect of her club on the industry and what its end portends is a great topic of discussion.
posted by daveadams at 9:18 AM on April 5, 2002


Because heaven forbid people should go into a bookstore and pick out something on their own without being told by their favorite celebrity...
posted by briank at 9:25 AM on April 5, 2002


My guess is this is part of her long-term plan to retire in 2006.

Either that or she's decided to stop reading so as to focus more on eating.
( meow! pht! pht!)
posted by me3dia at 9:26 AM on April 5, 2002


I agree with the other posters: wait for a link, then post it.

That said, I hope this is true. The whole "Oprah recommends it so it must be good" is part of what's wrong with the industry right now -- who the hell is Oprah to say what's good or bad in literature anyhow? Her audience is mostly composed of women, which means that books appealing to or dealing with feminine themes will almost always trump other genres like science fiction, military adventure, or police thrillers, which tend to have heavily-male readerships.

Furthermore, Oprah's track record on these books tends towards the syrupy, nostalgic fiction that disappears from all popular memory in a few years (does anyone still read Wally Lamb?).

Good riddance.
posted by mrmanley at 9:26 AM on April 5, 2002


cheers daveadams!
posted by monkeyJuice at 9:28 AM on April 5, 2002


Because heaven forbid people should go into a bookstore and pick out something on their own without being told by their favorite celebrity...

I really don't think it's a bad thing in this respect. If the club gets people to read more than they would have otherwise, that's a positive influence. Maybe these people will get involved in discussion groups and this will serve as an opening to get them into the intimidating world of literature beyond trash fiction.

Of course, there may be a negative influence on the publishing industry as a whole. If Oprah-recommended-style books are the majority of what gets published anymore, that's not a good thing for book lovers, of course. But a bigger audience and improved financial health in the book industry are hopefully positive effects.
posted by daveadams at 9:29 AM on April 5, 2002


Actually, this would be just one more possible retreat by Oprah -- she's apparently uneasy about her investment in the Oxygen Network, too.
posted by me3dia at 9:34 AM on April 5, 2002


The problem with Oprah's book club isn't the middle-brow crud she generally picks, but the winner-take-all effect it has on publishing. Being picked by her is like winning the lottery (at the expense of mid-list writers, I would guess.)

Then again, that's not exactly her fault. In the grand scheme of things, we should be glad she takes time to talk about books on TV. Wouldn't it be a better world if more celebrities ran book clubs? I'd buy all of William Shatner's picks.
posted by muckster at 9:52 AM on April 5, 2002


Since there's no link yet, and the web site sure makes it look like the book club is going strong, are you sure it wasn't a belated April Fool's Day trick? If it was sent by email, it could have been forwarded on long after the trick was exposed.
posted by Soliloquy at 10:06 AM on April 5, 2002


Well, her club is enormously popular to the extent that it makes the book industry tons and tons of money. Her book club picks result in hundreds of copies being sold at every Barnes and Noble. Whether the picks are good or bad, they get sold. It's a dream come true for publishers.

It did n't just make the book industry $$, a big fat lump fo the business she generated got kicked back to her. Its common knowledge within the industry that she didn't read nearly all the books she recommended.

The bottom line tho is it was easy money for her, so if she's walking away now, more than likely its because its no longer worth her while. Thats the way things go. Someday "The Osbournes" will be old hat too.
posted by BentPenguin at 10:07 AM on April 5, 2002


Addendum: the Publisher's Weekly web site doesn't appear to have this news on it. I'm thinking hoax, here.
posted by Soliloquy at 10:08 AM on April 5, 2002


so whats the fuss about her book club?
The big fuss is that it made people start reading books who normally wouldn't read them. Millions of (mostly) women are reading long, interesting, thought provoking, and fabulous books. Some may be "fluffy" reading, but they aren't trashy. They are all very interesting and many of them really make you think.

I belong to a bookclub full of women who read 6-10 books a month on their own. We hate to admit it for the same reasons Johnathan Franzen dissed her, but a lot of the books her book club suggests are just plain good.

I'm disappointed that she's stopping it. She's opened up a world of things to a large group of people who normally wouldn't read a book a month, discuss it or think about the issues brought up in the books. Perhaps a few million (?) of them will continue to read after it's over.

So what if she made money on it? She makes money, the authors make money (many of them were struggling and she made their careers..is that so bad?), and people read books. What the heck are you all so bitter about?
posted by aacheson at 10:22 AM on April 5, 2002


It seems that some of you think that if it weren't for Oprah, every housewife in America would be ransacking their local Barnes and Noble for texts on the history of Anarchy in China.

Quit being such snobs.
posted by glenwood at 10:33 AM on April 5, 2002


Try reading a few of them yourself...just some of the wonderful selections she's picked that I've read and LOVED. Some are a little lighter reading than others, but all are wonderfully written:

She's Come Undone (Very though provoking)
A Fine Balance (GREAT BOOK!)
Jewel (very though provoking)
Cane River
Midwives (Amazing book. One of the best)
Poisonwood Bible
Stones from the River (Wonderful perspecive on WW2 Germany)
Where the Heart Is

In just these selections, she's gotten people to think about: mid-70's revolutionary India, childrens mental illness, adult mental illness/abuse/obesity, slavery and its' legacy to women, early-century missionaries in Africa, the holocost during WW2, abuse and love and community.

What is so bad about this? Why are you people so cynical?
posted by aacheson at 10:36 AM on April 5, 2002


It's true.
posted by nikzhowz at 10:39 AM on April 5, 2002


I think I speak for all of us when I say - What does Deepak Chopra think about this?
posted by skallas at 10:42 AM on April 5, 2002


I hate to say this, not being a fan of the spoonfed culture idea at all, but a lot of people who otherwise wouldn't have read Bernard Schlink's book, The Reader, because (strangely - can't figure out why) it was picked to be an Oprah-book-of-the-month or whatever they call it.
posted by luriete at 11:07 AM on April 5, 2002


Here is another link.
posted by internal at 11:13 AM on April 5, 2002


For pete's sake-- Someone tries to use their phenomenal fame to better the world and everyone's too jaded to believe it. Give it a rest.
posted by bonheur at 11:14 AM on April 5, 2002


I'd buy all of William Shatner's picks.

So, what, that'd be something like this:
1. Tek Money
2. Tek Net
3. Tek Kill
4. Teklab
5. Tekwar
6. The Tek Secret
7. Horses of the Sun : A Gallery of the World's Most Exquisite
8. Get a Life!

and, of course, Mamatas' seminal work, The No Hair-Loss Hair Care Book : With Hair Replacement Solutions and Treatments.
posted by cortex at 11:16 AM on April 5, 2002


I'm reading The Corrections simply because of the hype Franzen generated by not letting it be selected. I probably wouldn't have read it otherwise. Not because I'm a book snob, but because I just don't pay attention to Oprah. Still I'm sorry to see the club go, anythying that gets people to read can't be all bad.
posted by tommasz at 11:19 AM on April 5, 2002


aacheson:

I don't think anyone is trying to say that it's a bad thing for Oprah to get people reading. My gripe is that there are better ways to do it than becoming a shill for her pet authors. Why not get people reading challenging new books or classic literature rather than the brain-numbing paste she usually advocates?

I do not agree that simply *reading* is necessarily a Greater Good. There's just as much stupid crap in print as there is on television (more, probably) -- just because it's printed doesn't mean that it attains some Higher Quality. What I really object to is that resellers like Amazon pitch "Oprah's Book Club" as if it's some kind of club for smart people (a mensa for the talk-show set, I guess).

My wife and I got an argument not log ago about whether the bodice-ripper paperbacks she reads really qualify as "literature" or not. My opinion is that this stuff is basically porn for women, and badly-written porn at that. I don't see how reading that stuff improves your mind at all. (I feel the same way about lots of the "technothriller" crap aimed at men -- Tom Clancy has only slightly more writing talent than a mollusk.)

Sigh. I guess I just wish that people would make their own decisions about what is good and what isn't, and forget the celebrity endorsements.
posted by mrmanley at 11:26 AM on April 5, 2002


It's usually called emotional pornography, mrmanley.
And I agree with your last sentence.
As for Oprah--mock the Oprah!
mock mock mock mock the Oprah!
posted by y2karl at 11:36 AM on April 5, 2002


Oprah sez: ""It has become harder and harder to find books on a monthly basis that I feel absolutely compelled to share."

That's too bad. I assume her club is restricted to new works? Surely there's a lot of older literature that is just as valuable and Oprah-iffic.
posted by daveadams at 11:37 AM on April 5, 2002


There's just as much stupid crap in print as there is on television (more, probably) -- just because it's printed doesn't mean that it attains some Higher Quality

No, but if one is going to spend their time consuming dreck, written dreck is probably better for them.
posted by daveadams at 11:40 AM on April 5, 2002


Mrmanley, what a snob you are. Books aren't "necessarily" good? What makes them good? When they're by your pet authors, as opposed to Oprah's? And how frustrating it must be for you that OBC is marketed as a "club for smart people," when you know very well they're not smart! You're much smarter than they are! Not fair!

Accept that fact, please, that because of OBC millions of people have read, thought about, and discussed books containing ideas and perspectives they (although, tragically, not you) found interesting, challenging, and presumably, outside their experience. And as you criticize reading for readings' sake, you will recall that the alternative is not reading. You favor this, I suppose, over the bad choices people make on their own or on others' advice? "You can't be trusted to choose books! Do not read!" God I hope you're not a teacher.
posted by luser at 11:51 AM on April 5, 2002


Surely there's a lot of older literature that is just as valuable and Oprah-iffic.

daveadams, I've been saying that for years. I believe her response to that quesion is that "you can't have a dead author appear on the show." Which is true, but you could certainly have, say, a college professor who's an expert in that author's work. My guess has been that probably the publishers don't get as much money selling backlist "classic lit" titles.
posted by dnash at 11:52 AM on April 5, 2002


I've read exactly two Oprah books. One was The Pilot's Wife, because someone whose feelings I didn't want to hurt offered to lend it to me. It was okay, if seemingly written specifically so it could end up as the fluffy women's miniseries which (I understand) it became.

The other, I found in the lobby of my apartment building, after having boxed up all my own books for a move. I was leery, in equal parts, of the Oprah logo and of the altogether-too-precious plot summary on the back of the book, but since it was free and I was desperate for something to read, I thought I'd give literary populism a fair chance.

I gave it a chance. I finished it, even. So it's with utmost authority that I can say: Icy Sparks was, quite possibly, the worst book I've ever read.

(And I still have the damn thing, having forgotten to put it back in the lobby before I moved... anyone who wants it, lemme know, and I'll pay the postage to send it to you, so it can be off my conscience and out of the trunk of my car.)

Perhaps some of Oprah's other picks are fabulous, smart, insightful, and transcendent, but my ratio of Oprah girly treacle to Oprah pleasant surprise is now running two-to-none. Not a scientific sampling by any means, but if a dog bit you twice, would you try to pet it again?

If Oprah has gotten people to read who otherwise wouldn't have, more power to her and to them. That's a good thing. But doing good by promoting reading is not the same thing as promoting a good read.
posted by Sapphireblue at 12:04 PM on April 5, 2002


luser:

Maybe I'm just surprised that anyone would waste their time with a fingernail-paring like "We Were The Mulvaneys" when they can read something by Nabokov or Harper Lee or Cormac McCarthy instead.

But hey, if you like that stuff -- knock yourself out. No one can force you to read good stuff (thank goodness!).
posted by mrmanley at 12:30 PM on April 5, 2002


on the other side of the coin:

Cormac McCarthy puts me to sleep.
posted by Sapphireblue at 12:35 PM on April 5, 2002


If Oprah has gotten people to read who otherwise wouldn't have, more power to her and to them.

But is there any way to tell that she has done that? It's pretty easy to tell where she has had an effect on book sales, but are all those people actually reading the books they buy?
posted by JanetLand at 12:36 PM on April 5, 2002


anyone who wants it, lemme know, and I'll pay the postage to send it to you, so it can be off my conscience and out of the trunk of my car

Sapphire, send it to Mark at booklend.net!

I'd send him my copy of Mason & Dixon, but it's like shipping a small car. A small, unbearable, weird car.
posted by Skot at 12:41 PM on April 5, 2002


funny how nobody seems to remember that oprah was a powerful influence on "literary" success even before her book club was established. i remember because i was there, my friends...

oh yes, i can remember it like it was yesterday, those weekday afternoons behind the register at a certain mall-based purveyor of popular reading. and though we were never warning before it happened, we always knew after it happened?

where did all of these people come from? why are their eyes glazed over like...

"excuse me, but can you help me find a par-tic-yul-ar book? yeah, there was this indian feller on the oprah winfrey show and he was talkin' all about his ageless body and timeless mind and stuff... do you have it?"

without regularly scheduled appearances on oprah to help them through the mid-to-late nineties, deepak chopra, steven covey, robert james waller, john grisham and jack canfield would've starved in the streets.
posted by grabbingsand at 1:11 PM on April 5, 2002


given. a "given" should've went in there somewhere. like before "warning" -- dang it.
posted by grabbingsand at 1:12 PM on April 5, 2002


dnash:
My guess has been that probably the publishers don't get as much money selling backlist "classic lit" titles.

no not at all, in fact probably the opposite. If the author's been dead more than 75 years in Europe (50 years, I think, in the US), then it's out of copyright, so there's no royalties to pay and more profit for the publishers.

Even if the authors still alive, all the typesetting costs will have been written off after the first printing, along with payments for illustrations (if any), a re-issue is cheaper + more profitable for a publisher. Perhaps they'll pay for a new jacket illustration, not really big money though.
posted by selton at 1:39 PM on April 5, 2002


selton:

Absolutely correct. Not only that, but smaller publishing houses can offer very nicely bound editions for about the same price as some poorly-bound, sure-to-fall-apart paperback you'd get at your local BigChainStore.

One of the things I lament about the homogenization of the publishing industry is not (just) the declining quality of the writing itself; the bookbinder's art seems to be dying out as well.
posted by mrmanley at 1:49 PM on April 5, 2002


mrmanly:

homogenization is right. And, over the time I've been in publishing, each year there seems to be fewer publishers not run by conglomerate accountants.

As for the binding, as far as I've seen, the printing costs haven't really gone up in the last 5 or so years... so they must be cutting corners somewhere.

I fall asleep on most of my books at some point, so the binding doesn't last long no matter how good it is.
posted by selton at 2:32 PM on April 5, 2002


Just wanted to apologize for posting w/out a direct link - it was fresh news, I figured earlier is better with that kind of thing. Won't happen again. Thanks for the interesting discussion, all.
posted by busbyism at 2:35 PM on April 5, 2002


She's ending it as a monthly feature but there's no indication she's ending it permanently. Perhaps she's only phasing it out, but sounds to me that she's uncomfortable with the concept of it being a regular thing - that she wants to insure the choices she makes are quality and not quantity. Oprah's not announcing that she's gonna stop reading. She'll probably still do it whenever she finds a book she feels worthy of bringing to her audience's attention.

And with that said I'm appauled by the people in here who "hope this is true" To denounce Oprah for trying to encourage people to read? Sure there's the annoying commercialization of it and she makes money and the authors make money and the publishing houses make money, but what Oprah has done with her program overall for many years far surpasses what so many other talk show hosts have done. Oprah could have wallowed in the filth like Springer and so many others have, and she could have made some good money doing that. She opted to rise above it and yeah it's swarmy mushy goo that she sells the world but it's also filled with positive, productive messages.

If only more people in positions similar to hers would do their part to try to help make the world a better place, I think the world would one day actually become a better place.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:36 PM on April 5, 2002


By the way, she just officially announced the end of the book club "as we know it" on her show. Yes I do occasionally watch Oprah. =P (mostly on Tuesdays) And she described it pretty much the way I figured she would, as I described above. It's gotten harder for her to find books that she's honestly passionate about. She doesn't want to stamp her name on a book for the show just because she had to meet some self-appointed deadline.

It could also be due to criticism, I imagine. People probably thought she was just pushing books because someone told her to. Hopefully this will end that criticism. It's her show. She praises books only when she feels they deserve her praise. I've never personally read one of her chosen books, but I might just go ahead and pick up Sula.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:59 PM on April 5, 2002


I come down strongly on the "geez-how-can-you-people-be-such-snobs" side of things. From my experience, Oprah's book club has encouraged reading for people who wouldn't ordinarily choose literature to occupy their free time, like my five aunts on my mother's side. Are these people simple? Are they stupid? Are they made more so by the fact that their tastes appear so unfortunately pedestrian when contrasted with your profound literary acuity? Well, guess what. These women, like it or not, enjoy Oprah, and they value her recommendations. I guess we should write them off for finding and cherishing an emotional engagement with the works they read above an intellectual one, if that is indeed the case. The fact that these books touch closer to their lives than Beowulf did to Helen Vendler's, or City of Glass did to mine, or Midnight's Children did to yours does not make their lives any less interesting or valid than my life, or Helen Vendler's life, or your life. And if you imagine that it does, get over yourself for a moment, and go read some critically legitimized work of literature, like The Scarlet Letter.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 3:27 PM on April 5, 2002


I come down strongly on the "geez-how-can-you-people-be-such-snobs" side of things. From my experience, Oprah's book club has encouraged reading for people who wouldn't ordinarily choose literature to occupy their free time, like my five aunts on my mother's side. Are these people simple?

Yes.

Are they stupid?

God, yes.

Are they made more so by the fact that their tastes appear so unfortunately pedestrian when contrasted with your profound literary acuity?

It's the other way around. Their pedestrian "tastes" are the result of their stupidity.

Well, guess what. These women, like it or not, enjoy Oprah, and they value her recommendations. I guess we should write them off for finding and cherishing an emotional engagement with the works they read above an intellectual one, if that is indeed the case.

I write them off because the emotional engagement they have is not with the book, it's with Oprah, and it's not "above" an intellectual engagement with the book, it's "instead of" such an engagement.

The fact that these books touch closer to their lives than Beowulf did to Helen Vendler's, or City of Glass did to mine, or Midnight's Children did to yours does not make their lives any less interesting or valid than my life, or Helen Vendler's life, or your life.

Again, it's the other way around. Their lives were already less interesting than mine; the fact that they would rely on Oprah to choose a novel for them is merely one of many symptoms.

And if you imagine that it does, get over yourself for a moment, and go read some critically legitimized work of literature, like The Scarlet Letter.

Are you trying to suggest that The Scarlet Letter is not a good book, or that it's "legitimization" over the last 100+ years should't carry any more weight than an endorsement from Oprah?
posted by bingo at 4:40 PM on April 5, 2002


Hey, could you maybe emphasize your contempt for the chattering classes a little more, Mister Filmic Storyteller?
posted by darukaru at 8:26 PM on April 5, 2002


I wouldn't say they are "classes," and my contempt is for Oprah, who has a choice.
posted by bingo at 9:39 PM on April 5, 2002


I now have more contempt for you, bingo, than you can imagine. Not everybody's a freakin' grad student. Go ahead, live in your little snob world -- you're the poorer for it.

I've even heard tell that Shakespeare wrote for popular audiences. The very idea.
posted by dhartung at 10:54 PM on April 5, 2002


I'm reminded of something mentioned in the film "Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back," where Jay is educated about the true purpose of The Internet, which is basically for people to bitch about movies and share free porn. Ben Affleck's character from Chasing Amy struggles vainly to explain to Jay that these people on the Internet spend their waking moments saying terrible things about celebrities whom they will never meet, yet can't seem to stop talking about them.

Jay then completely ignores his friend's diatribes and cautionary warnings, and goes on to attempt to shut down a movie that while contempuous phlegm, will no doubt send himself and his friend into infinite stardom (hey it's Hollywood the movie never pretends to be believable). Why? Cuz Jay doesn't like complete strangers saying bad things about him.

So Bingo? Go on ahead and diss Oprah and those who choose to use her brain to think with. Such activity is a waste of your grey matter, but no cautionary warnings will prevent you from chasing down your own personal windmills, Quixote.

And yes of course I'm a hypocrite. I have my own windmills to stare down vaingloriously. Tom Cruise being one of them. He's an utter jerk but that doesn't change the fact he wipes with more money than I'll ever see in a lifetime. At least Oprah struggles to use her position of influence to help and encourage people. If only more would do the same.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:57 AM on April 6, 2002


while i agree it's all well and good that oprah is encouraging people to read who otherwise might not do so, i can't help but wonder if they might not find work by any number of dead authors just as enjoyable.

having said that, i think scarlet letter was pretty crap.

i'm not saying that dead authors are necessarily good or anything like that, but i think the proportion of signal to noise with dead writers that are still being published is a fair bit higher than being forced to pick something new/contemporary.
posted by juv3nal at 3:41 AM on April 6, 2002


I watch Oprah all the time and yet simultaneously consider it overwrought schmaltzy crap. I read an article by Jonathan Franzen and he seemed to be ambivalent rather than scornful with regard to the Book Club. He just politely agreed with the highbrow graduates who thought the Book Club logo was a stain upon the novel's integrity, and agreed with the Oprah fans when they said how great the Book Club.
To be honest, as an aspiring (for 'aspiring' read failed) author, I would slate the Book Club or anything similar right up until the point where I looked like *my* novel might actually get nominated, then I'd see that as a validation of the club's standards and change sides. I think having something that encourages people to read is very positive... I mean, you can lead a horse to water and all that, but she's not spoonfeeding her goddamn viewers. They still choose to buy the books or not. If they enjoy them, they may read more. My only gripe is that I wish there were more Book Clubs on TV, so people had a choice and literary sales increased in diversity.
posted by RokkitNite at 7:03 AM on April 6, 2002


At least Oprah struggles to use her position of influence to help and encourage people. If only more would do the same.

At least Tom Cruise doesn't try to shape the opinions and morals of mass America. For instance, he's a devout, loony Scientologist. He doesn't seem to try to convince all of America that they should become Scienos.

Oprah, on the other hand, would have ol' sleazy David Miscavige on her show every week, "helping" and converting people left right and center. And next thing you know, 3/4s of America would be giving their life savings over to the evil organization.

Oprah is very dangerous. Far too many people in America hang on her every word. Her influence shapes opinion, starts trends, makes kings.

So far, she's been moderate and reasonably positive, so it's been okay. But if she ever snaps...
posted by five fresh fish at 8:18 AM on April 6, 2002


Make sure you don't trip with your snobby noses held so high in the air.
posted by owillis at 10:28 AM on April 6, 2002


Are you trying to suggest that The Scarlet Letter is not a good book, or that it's "legitimization" over the last 100+ years should't carry any more weight than an endorsement from Oprah?

Well, to start with, since Oprah's been selecting living authors, then obvioulsy none of them are going to be able to mtach 100+ years of legitimization. So, apples and oranges there. But the Scarlet Letter is a great example anyway, since it became popular in large part because of an early round of reviews by critics who were Hawthorne's friends. Which, of course, is nothing at all like getting on Oprah. And, naturally, there's a perfect match between the books which were critically acclaimed at the time and those which have lasted through the ages. And a perfect disjoint between books that were critical failures, but were wildly popular, and books which have lasted through the ages.

Whatever.

I'll put money down that at least one of Oprah's picks is talked about in English Lit. survey classes a hundred years from now.
posted by feckless at 11:24 AM on April 6, 2002


I'll put money down that at least one of Oprah's picks is talked about in English Lit. survey classes a hundred years from now.
Safe in the knowledge that none of us will be around to hold you to it. Yeah, good one.
posted by RokkitNite at 12:12 PM on April 6, 2002


Safe in the knowledge that none of us will be around to hold you to it. Yeah, good one.

I don't know about you, but I have every intention of being around in 100 years. But I could make it 75 or 50 if you preferred . . .
posted by feckless at 1:40 PM on April 6, 2002


Not everybody's a freakin' grad student. Go ahead, live in your little snob world -- you're the poorer for it.

I've even heard tell that Shakespeare wrote for popular audiences. The very idea.


Right. On.
posted by Medley at 3:16 PM on April 6, 2002


dhartung:

I now have more contempt for you, bingo, than you can imagine.

Yet I will lose sleep tonight, trying to imagine it.

Not everybody's a freakin' grad student.

Thank god for that. I'm not a grad student, btw. And I would never suggest that you need grad school to give you direction in what books to read on your spare time, any more than you need Oprah for that direction.

Go ahead, live in your little snob world -- you're the poorer for it.

The specific way in which I am impoverished is that I don't have the guidance of a daytime talk show host in deciding which books to read.

I've even heard tell that Shakespeare wrote for popular audiences. The very idea.

You must really misunderstand my point of view, if you think this has anything to do with it.

ZachsMind: Ben Affleck's character from Chasing Amy struggles vainly to explain to Jay that these people on the Internet spend their waking moments saying terrible things about celebrities whom they will never meet, yet can't seem to stop talking about them...So Bingo? Go on ahead and diss Oprah and those who choose to use her brain to think with. Such activity is a waste of your grey matter, but no cautionary warnings will prevent you from chasing down your own personal windmills, Quixote.

You make a very strange analogy with the whole Kevin Smith thing...now there's a guy who, in real life, does care what people online say about him, even though he doesn't have to. Setting aside the kaycee-type community investigations, not much that is said in any of these MeFi threads is going to have a direct affect on anything...my comments, like everyone else's, are just part of a discussion.

That being said, your Quixote analogy is pretty strange, too. Don Q, who loved the books he read so much that he thought he was living in one, would have been much better served in terms of his literary tastes having an effect on the world, if he would have attacked people like Oprah instead of windmills.

feckless: Well, to start with, since Oprah's been selecting living authors, then obvioulsy none of them are going to be able to mtach 100+ years of legitimization. So, apples and oranges there.

You're attacking an analogy that came from grrarrgh0. I agree with you, it's bad.

But the Scarlet Letter is a great example anyway, since it became popular in large part because of an early round of reviews by critics who were Hawthorne's friends. Which, of course, is nothing at all like getting on Oprah.

Yeah. Friends like Herman Melville. That's like John Updike writing a good review of a Joyce Carol Oates novel. Of course they know each other personally; they're contemporary literary legends. Sure, it's possible for such reviews to be biased by friendship, but Melville was one established literary novelist endorsing the work of another. Oprah's credentials are that she has a crappy daytime talk show.

And, naturally, there's a perfect match between the books which were critically acclaimed at the time and those which have lasted through the ages. And a perfect disjoint between books that were critical failures, but were wildly popular, and books which have lasted through the ages.

Again, I think you're arguing with me over an analogy that I didn't make.
posted by bingo at 7:05 PM on April 6, 2002


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