Sunday, April 01, 2007

Class War

Oprah chose one of my very favourite writers for her latest book club selection!!!!

I am ecstatic!!!! I've been so hyper and excited since last week thinking about a vast new audience for one of my literary heros, Cormac McCarthy.

Last week, Oprah returned to contemporary literature after a couple of years of choosing classics for her book club and audience participants. When Oprah first introduced her book club, it was with contemporary novels she loved and that inspired her. She began with Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison.

Oprah began a small revolution. Not only were people reading, but especially parents, who had long given up on personal time, or had lost focus on allowing themselves to sit down and enjoy their imaginations. Her online book forum has thousands of participants during each book slection, it's is really something to behold.

I've read at least half of the Oprah picks over the years, either by coincidence or choice, or I had already been familiar with the book.

I belong to a few book clubs online. Although McCarthy reached mainstream audiences many years ago with his novel All The Pretty Horses there are many fans who felt that he was their special cult writer. Like Thomas Pynchon and J.D. Salinger, McCarthy doesn't give many interviews. Two or three as far as I know over the last 40 years. As a matter of fact, Mister Anchovy and I, discovered him over twenty years ago when he was still relatively unknown. I remember the surprise when he had optioned a novel for Hollywood. It was quite exciting.

The Cormac McCarthy Forum began in the 90's as a resource and discussion board primarily used by academics. It has changd and grown a "lay reader" participation as well as a university crowd since then...and the announcement of Cormac McCarthy as Oprah's book brought some interesting responses, especially that she said he will make his first television intereview ever with her.

The announcement produced hundreds of posts at the Cormac McCarthy forum with a wide variety of emotional and cultural insights into a quiet riot of what might be called a "class war"?

Here are SOME "anti-Oprah" comments (to be followed by SOME anti-academic comments)

"brain dead housewives"
"stereotyping their clothing"
"normally I'd feel like this was a punch in the groin, but this means a tv interview"
"a stupid Oprah sticker on a McCarthy book"
"hope it doesn't become studio fodder"
"Wait, what? I'm sorry, what? Of all the---now, wait a minute--- Who picked who for the what now? This is like the kind of hideous, self-negating logic games that make your brain hurt while you play them"
"what would make him appear on Oprah? his wife and son, probably wants to set them up financially"
"I got adeath threat, for real no kidding. Be careful what you say about the almighty Oprah. Her minions are heading to our homes as we speak."
"she must not have heard about Lester"
"hmmm I wonder why Oprah didn't pick Blood Meridian. I ask this with an ironic wink"
"I cringed a bit when I heard the announcement"
"this is surreal"
"McCarthy won't discuss his childhood traumas, sexual and/or substance abuse. He won't buy new clothes for the interview or wear makeup"
"Wonder if Del Monte will get in on the action and pass out cans of pears to the audience with their free copies?"
"my head is going to explode. It is a shame he has so little regard for his legion academic fans who would kill for an interview"
"what a cream-cheese interview"
"as cheese-a-riffic as Oprah is...she does a lot of good with her (enormous) wealth and did bring herself up from a pretty low place. She gets my respect for sure."
"ha, my stomach feels quesy when thinking about yelling out"Will someone tape Oprah for me.Ha"
"Reactions while reading this thread:No. No."
"Well, it's all over. They even got to McCarthy."
"nobody ever lost a penny by underestimating the taste of the American public. Mencken"
"bored housewives and spinsters"
"imagine nice sweatered housewives asking what is a catamite"
"and now its as if Oprah stole my thunder"

SOME "anti-academic" comments:

"Ms Winfrey may not ask the same questions as a professor of literature(thank goodness?)"
"perhaps McCarthy is using this as a means to increase his readership and sell more books (so far academia hasn't inspired people to read McCarthy?" my aside)
"you bloody snobs"
"Oprah fans talk about a lot more shit and heavy shit than you realize, rape, survival, stalkers, war, death, harrassment, sexism, forgiveness, spirituality, love, intolerance, mental illness, fact by the sound of it...the real people in the dark of culture and literature have shown their faces here"
"this reaction just confirms my theory about the negative aspects of the cultishness of McCarthy readers"
"(The Road...hopefully)...will ride the wave of populism and become a fixture in high school American Literature classes for decades to come, instead of the vacuous crap they make kids read today."
"that would be like saying all Cormac McCarthy fans are smart. I certainly know that ain't the truth."
"As if someone needs credentials to read a book and those who read it have to be a certain sort, and the splendiferous insights and readings here are somehow almost always profound and above and beyond the range of the average literate reader of books."
"there is also a lot of nonsense and crap posted here as well. It's not like our shit doesn't stink."
"crossing a border in society with exposure on Oprah"
"housewives are way better people than politicians and soldiers and artists and writers and systems analysts and English professors"
"I'm inclined to believe that the insecurity at work here is the fear that the resulting cumulative interpretation won't be palatable. The fear of losing control, of losing 'ownership' of McCarthy's senantic existence"
"I think this sense of a loss of ownership is the best thing that could've happened for everyone, certainly McCarthy, and maybe most of all this society. His capability to mean something, and whatever it might be, to alot of people, to alot of people that would never read the works in the bibliography on this site, is more important than the bibliography on this site."
"you sound like a bunch of groupies"


Anonymous said...

I'm speechless and utterly fascinated with the whole thing. (no, I'm smiling with glee, because it is about turf and I'm dying to see how this scrimmage goes)

* (asterisk) said...

Wow, how interesting. I'd like to see that interview.

BTW: Sorry I haven't gotten back to you with details of the errors in my UK version of The Road. I will, just as soon as...

Did you get my email with the video clip?

Karen said...

Normally I steer far clear of all Oprah picks (we don't have the same taste) but then she chose a Steinbeck novel and I was floored. A quick trip to Amazon the other day and I was smacked in the face with "ALL NEW OPRAH PICK". I was about to ignore the giant ad when I noticed McCarthey's name and thought "isn't that that guy whom Candy's mentioned a few times?". I clicked on the book and read the summary. WOW. Definately one I'll be reading this year. I couldn't believe that Oprah picked it!

Anonymous said...

Oprah and I usually do not click at all. Although I loved "I Know This Much is True".

Isn't it interesting all the freak out about him going on Oprah. Oprah is doing a lot of different stuff right now. Did you know she is interviewing the Hicks for her radio show. As in the couple who channel Abraham. I don't get sirius, and would buy it. But, would love to hear this interview. Apparently, she does not think her TV audience would get it. Channeling, I mean.

Gloomy here in Maine. Hope it is sunny where you are!

Anonymous said...

L.M. "turf war" is actually the perfect description of the reaction...I was laughing and laughing. It's kind of died down now as some of the profs and academics are getting used to the surprise that McCarthy would go to Oprah, and that he admires her work.

*Yes, I did get viedoe tape and showed it to Stagg thanks a lot for sending it!!! I'll record the Oprah program for you with McCArthy. I thought you and Red might find this situation with the academic forum response ot Oprah interesting as it's related to the publishing business in a way.

Karen, Steinbeck is incredible is't he...he's got it all in there! I've nejoyed many of Oprah's books and some I haven't. Kind of like anybodys tastes you know, all different...I think you would enjoy The's quite a story and makes you think.

Nancy, I will keep my eye open for this program on channeling okay? I usually record her show and then watch it if I see it, I will transfer it to video tape for you okay? Thanks for the heads up.


are we talking about the fat oprah or the thin oprah? or doesn't it make any difference. We get re-runs over here. One day she's about 18 stone and the next about 8. Bizarre.

Anonymous said...

In America, if you are filthy rich you can expand and contract at will, I hope that clears up any confusion.

Wylie Kinson said...

All this kafluffle over a book. No, that's not right,... Over an author!

ANYTHING that gets people to turn off the freaking idiot box in favor of READING is a very good thing.