Reading with Oprah: The Book Club That Changed America / Edition 2

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Overview

Adored by its fans, deplored by its critics, Oprah's Book Club has been at the center of arguments about cultural authority and literary taste since it began in 1996. Reading with Oprah explores the club's revolutionary fusion of books, television, and commerce and tells the engaging and in-depth story of the OBC phenomenon.

Kathleen Rooney combines extensive research with a dynamic voice to reveal the club's far-reaching cultural impact and its role as crucible for the clash between "high" and "low" literary taste. Comprehensive and up-to-date, the book covers the club from its inception in 1996, through the Jonathan Franzen contretemps, the surprising suspension in 2002, and, after the club's return in 2003, the progression from "great books" to memoir. New material includes an extensive look at the James Frey scandal and Oprah's turn to contemporary fiction.

Through close examination of Winfrey's picks and personal interviews with book club authors and readers, Rooney demonstrates how the club that Barbara Kingsolver calls "one of the best possible uses of a television set" has, according to Wally Lamb, "gotten people of all ages to read, to read more, and to read widely."

About the Author:
Kathleen Rooney is a founding editor of Rose Metal Press and the author of the upcoming University of Arkansas Press title Live Nude Girl. She lives in Chicago

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Editorial Reviews

Choice Magazine
Highly recommended.
Publishers Weekly
The impact of Oprah Winfrey's television book club is well known to everyone in the book business. Yet many among the literati assumed Oprah's picks were mediocre and resented the star's posturing as a tastemaker. In her lively, information-filled account of the club's history, Rooney, an award-winning poet and a writing instructor at Emerson College, defends Oprah as a genuine "intellectual force" who "promoted the bridging of the high-low chasm" in American literary life. Although Rooney confesses she found many picks unreadable for reasons she eloquently explains she points out the literary worth of selected novels by Toni Morrison, Jonathan Franzen, Rohinton Mistry and others. Rooney relates theoretical ideas on taste, literary value and cultural hierarchy to the social phenomenon of Oprah's club and focuses on every up and down in the face-off between Oprah and Franzen, saying each was disingenuous at times, and both missed an opportunity to look at larger questions of our literary culture. On the negative side, Rooney finds Oprah manipulative and inclined to interpret literary fiction in the reductive terms of autobiography and self-help. Ultimately, Rooney sees Oprah's Book Club (including its latest incarnation) as a positive effort. Although Rooney's sometimes awkward prose can get bogged down in anecdotal evidence and personal asides, she accurately captures the cultural unrest surrounding the Oprah Book Club and raises numerous thoughtful points about its significance. (Feb.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher

“Rooney takes a steady, smart look at a situation that is both fascinating in its own right and deeply revealing about ‘how it is’ in our cultural life these days.” —Sven Birkerts, author of The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age “In her lively, information-filled account of the club’s history, Rooney . . . defends Oprah as a genuine ‘intellectual force.’ . . . Accurately captures the cultural unrest surrounding the Oprah Book Club and raises numerous thoughtful points about its significance.” —Publishers Weekly “Rooney’s analysis of the Oprah Book Club is both incisive and sympathetic, both scholarly in its methodology and accessible in its presentation. Anyone interested in the multiple diversities which characterize twenty-first century American culture will find Reading with Oprah provocative and entertaining.” —Tara Ghoshal Wallace, author of Jane Austen and Narrative Authority
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781557288738
  • Publisher: University of Arkansas Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 284
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author


Kathleen Rooney photo by Jeff Wood Kathleen Rooney is a writing instructor at Emerson College. Winner of an Academy of American Poets Prize in 2004 and a Ruth Lilly Fellowship from Poetry magazine, she is editor of Redivider and has published a number of poems, articles, and reviews in the Nation, the Harvard Review, the Boston Review, Puerto Del Sol, and Cimarron Review. This book grew out of an article she wrote for the Nation about her visit to the show where Winfrey announced the end of the book club.
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Table of Contents

Preface : end of story?
1 The stories of Oprah : Oprah's Book Club and American literary culture 1
2 Jonathan Franzen versus Oprah Winfrey : disses, disinvitations, and disingenuousness 33
3 Raise your hand if you haven't done all the reading : the novels of OBC 67
4 Formatted to fit your screen : the flattening effects of television on the books of OBC 109
5 Is this it? : the end of Oprah's Book Club as we know it 163
6 Everything old is new again : Oprah's Book Club returns with the classics 185
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