I had a dream last night that I was shopping at a bookstore with one Oprah Winfrey. We were shopping slowly, as if Oprah had all the time in the world. When we came to a table of science fiction books I began to enthusiastically explain the ones I loved and the ones I didn't. Oprah touched the cover of each book, feeling it as a blind person might, but she never opened any of them to read further. Then, all too soon, Oprah had to leave to go do something important.
At Half Priced Books in St. Paul, there's sometimes a table in the basement filled with Oprah book club books. The modern ones are a strange collection of sickly sweet, painful, and thick. They deal with heavy subjects-not a lot of comedy here-and kind of feel like the literary equivalent of a "heavy" Oprah episode. And while I'm glad for any force of good that gets people reading-and Oprah is definitely a force of good-it sometimes sticks in my craw that The Road was the only sci-fi book I can remember her choosing, a book written by a very well-established "literary" author who was expected to win the Pulitzer anyway. Wow, Oprah, you went out on a limb with that selection!
And now she recently chose the new Jonathan Franzen book, which probably needed the least help reaching the masses of any book in the last few years. A while back Franzen turned Oprah down for The Corrections, saying something to the effect that he wanted men to read his book, too, and this launched Oprah into her ill-considered "classics only" phase, which led to that ugly O stamp being put on awesome books that really didn't need her help at all, such as East of Eden and Anna Karenina, while causing millions of Oprah viewers across America to lie about finishing said books. The only reason I can imagine Oprah choosing a second Franzen book (which again, needed as much help getting out to the masses as Dick Cheney in an evil contest) was to show how she was the bigger person and oh so forgiving. But of course Oprah is the bigger person-she's bigger and more powerful than almost any civilian in the world!
Well, I'm not really going anywhere with all this. It was just a dream, after all. Just keep reading, people, even after her show goes off the air.