He Stands Corrected
”You don’t mess with the Queen,” warns one publishing insider. The Queen, of course, is Oprah Winfrey, whose book club turns literary pups into lions. But one has shunned the den. Here’s the skinny.
THE REBEL After years of obscurity, Jonathan Franzen, 42, seemed primed for success when Oprah tapped his National Book Award-nominated The Corrections for her book club. After the anointing, publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux upped the print run from 90,000 to 800,000.
THE CONFLICT A sullen Franzen told Portland’s The Oregonian that he ”considered turning [Oprah] down… because I’m an independent writer and I didn’t want that corporate logo on my book.” He then snipped to public radio’s Terry Gross: ”At the Oprah show, they have no idea how they are going to arrange the show because they’ve never done a book like this.” (Does Toni Morrison’s Paradise count?)
THE FALLOUT Winfrey shelved Franzen’s taped segments and released a stony dismissal: ”Jonathan Franzen will not be on The Oprah Winfrey Show because he is seemingly uncomfortable and conflicted about being chosen as a book club selection…. We are moving on to the next book.”
THE GROVEL ”I’m sorry if, because of my inexperience, I expressed myself poorly…. I continue to be grateful to Oprah for her love of The Corrections,” said Franzen in a statement. But some mistakes can’t be corrected.