What a difference a sticker can make. Back in 2001, Oprah’s Book Club was rolling along at full steam turning regular books into global super stars over night. So, when she chose Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections, it seemed like the writer would be rolling in it. He even went on and did an initial interview with Oprah, but the Chicago native eventually started to worry about that Book Club sticker emblazoned on the cover. He thought that it would turn men off of his work and said so in an interview that Oprah heard and basically dropped Franzen from the show and moved on to the next book (history via Wiki and my fuzzy memory, my mom taped Oprah every day around this time and I was still home before going to college).
I didn’t know any of that when I read The Corrections while at college though. I think the professor mentioned it, but painted Franzen as more of a rebellious hero than seems to have actually been the case. Regardless, the book blew me away. I even wrote a 17 page paper about the various sexual relationships in the book that I don’t think sucked too bad. I haven’t gone back and read either the book or the paper since my college days, but plan on adding it and some other more recent favorites to the end of my ambitious reading list.
So, with all that floating around in my brain somewhere, I was pretty surprised to find out via two emails from Barnes & Noble and Borders within about two minutes of each other today telling me that Oprah’s most recent Book Club entry will be Franzen’s highly anticipated new novel Freedom (his first since Corrections). Now, I didn’t see the Oprah episode itself, but I’m curious to see what Franzen’s involvement will be and if there was any mention to the troubles between the writer and host almost a decade ago. Anyone know?
Personally, I’m excited to check the book out and might even have to break my usual policy of waiting until books are on super sale at B&N before buying.
UPDATE: Thanks to my mom for mentioning it on Facebook, I actually caught the Oprah episode today at 4:00PM. She said that Franzen sent her a galley of the book over the summer, she references their past, says he agreed to let it be the Book Club choice and then she calls it a masterpiece. Interesting. Oprah then says it was one of the best novels she ever read. There you have it.