September 14, 2010
by Dennis Johnson
Okay, so back in the old days, er, ten years ago, when the blogosphere wasn’t so dern crowded, MobyLives took it to Jonathan Franzen for his classist, sexist, and racist statements about why he turned down membership in Oprah’s Book Club. Maybe we took it to him more than once. Okay, maybe we coined the name “J-Franz” and rode him hard for months. Well, hell, he did say something either stupid or vile or both nearly every day for a while there.
But that was a long time ago, and he made his money (maybe more than if he’d allowed the Oprah deal to go forward, causing some to speculate it was all a ruse), and maybe learned his lesson. And you would think for sure that Oprah learned hers. Hell, after all that nasty stuff Franzen said about her, the industry awarded him the National Book Award, a year after sucking up to her by having her host the event.
Well, you would think wrong. Reliable sources tell me Oprah has selected Franzen’s newest book, Freedom, for her revived book club.
The lesson here? Never underestimate the cynicism of people in show biz. Nor of Oprah, either.
Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House. Follow him at @mobylives