The Guardian today reports that 'Nine years after Jonathan Franzen derided Oprah Winfrey's choice of
"schmaltzy, one-dimensional" novels for her book club, becoming the
first author to be formally disinvited to appear on her show, these two
giants of American cultural life appear to have buried the hatchet.
According to booksellers and publishers, the television host is due to
announce the selection of Franzen's latest novel, Freedom, for her book
Obviously this is a superb piece of self-advancement by Mr Franzen and his ability to generate column inches is not to be denied. However, I have two questions: firstly, how has this author become one of the top rank so quickly? And secondly, would a female author have advanced as quickly in the same time?
There is a debate currently rumbling just under the surface about the literary merits of Messrs McEwan, Amis, Barnes et al. While I am an admirer of books by each of them it does seem that their Publicity Directors step up their game when one of them has a new book to promote. Witness the hoo hah when Ian McEwan was reunited with a long-lost brother. Or the more recent spat between Martin Amis and Anna Ford from which Christopher Hitchens managed to extricate several yards of coverage for his new book.
No erudite conclusions are to be reached here other than to reiterate how hard it is for any author to create publicity for their work these days and to congratulate Mr Franzen for his conversion to Ms Winfrey's line of thinking. Unless, of course, she decides not to play ball after all!