Monday, October 5, 2009

#88-Don't mess with the Oprah.

It was the decade when...

Franzen and Frey got schooled.

Dear You AUGHT to Remember,

So,I just wrote a mammoth door-stopper of a novel that is taking the literary world by storm. I'm what you might call a genius. My novel is being greeted with
Hosannahs by all the critics, though I don't read Michiko Kakutani at all, she's "the stupidest person in New York." But really, the book is a masterpiece. I have a feeling that at the end of the decade a bunch of writers are gonna get together and declare my tome the novel of the decade. I think I'll win the national book award too. So what's my problem? Well, it seems that popular television personality Oprah Winfrey wants to select my little opus for her "Book Club." I mean, it's nice and all but I'm worried if I go on the show I may not be able to maintain my haughty elitism and air of casual disdain towards the kind of people who read a book because it's on Oprah. See, I'm struggling with the unique, parvenu brand of guilt that afflicts only those unlucky few who, plucked from relative obscurity, worry about being TOO popular, - after all, most of the hoi polloi are philistines, right? (And if you can understand what that sentence means you are neither one of the hoi polloi or a Philistine.) I am no corporate shill! I am part of the "high-art literary tradition". I think what I'll do is agree to go on Oprah but trash her and her petit-bourgeois club as much as possible on my book tour. For example I might casually mention the "the some of Oprah's picks. She's picked some good books, but she's picked enough schmaltzy, one dimensional ones that I cringe." Might this work? That way I earn mega-dollars from Oprah's readers and condescend to them at the same time! What do you think YATR?


Dear JF,

Say what you will about Oprah's book club, well actually, don't say what you will about Oprah's book club, not if you have been selected by the big O herself to be an entry in said club and are then invited on her show to discuss it - a turn of events that should all but guarantee that the sales of your book will skyrocket. If you should find yourself in this circumstance the best course of action - no matter how pressing your opinions on the the topic are - is to smile, say you're flattered, and then kiss some Harpo ass. I bet even camera-shy recluse Cormac McCarthy wouldn't be so foolish as to ruffle Ms. Winfrey's feathers. You obviously don't know who you're dealing with. How could you, seeing as you don't own a television? She is Oprah, destroyer of worlds. She can giveth and she can taketh away. If you go ahead with your little scheme, I predict a terse and brief disinvite from Ms. Winfrey. Of course, you can also expect a media blitz and literary maelstrom to follow in which, despite a few brave defenders, you will be raked over the coals as a total douche. So, sorry JF, sorry, you've been corrected.

Dear YATR,

Hi there. I've got this book idea see? I mean, I've been a successful writer of fiction in the past. I wrote some movies that you've probably never seen, but still. I think non-fiction is where it's at though, see? That David Sedaris fellow is doing really well for himself I hear. And my life, well, it's really interesting see? It would make a great book. I had drug addictions, run-ins with the law, rehab stories, you name it! But interesting as it is, I want the book to be BIG hit see? I want...well, I want to get on Oprah, see? Unlike that Franzen fellow - what a prick! No, I'll do whatever it takes to be Oprah's book club selection. WHATEVER IT TAKES, see? I mean, I think I can just embellish a bit here and there. Spice things up a bit, see? Who is gonna object to a little stretching of the truth in the service of good storytelling? Who is gonna even look it up? It's a great idea, see? Who cares that I claim to have been arrested on a count of "felony mayhem" when there is no such charge? No one. It's sounds great, see? I'll load the book with exciting little tidbits like that, see? Sure, I could write a fiction book inspired by my life but, no one reads fiction anymore. If it's true though...that's the hook, see? You think Oprah will buy it? I'm wanna be a millionaire see?

JF (no, not that other jerk-off JF, see?)

Dear JF,
Oh, NO YOU DIDN'T. You did NOT! Heed this warning; don't fuck with Oprah. It's one thing to snub her. That's bad. You'll get the hook faster than a deformed stripper at Minsky's. But, lie to Oprah? Lie to her face? Well, I'd rather lie to a Corleone. At first, she wont want to believe it. No, she'll even try to defend you, at first. She doesn't want to lose face. She doesn't want to think she gave a punk-ass liar millions of dollars in book sales. But then, she'll come to understand. She'll actually read that six page expose, you know, the one filled with all that research about your story that your publisher failed to do. The story with the none-too-subtle subtitle, "The man who conned Oprah." Oprah does not get conned. Oprah does, however, get even. Oprah will show you what humilation means. Oprah will tell you to come on her show for a panel about "truth in America" - oh and bring your publisher - and she will change the topic of the show last minute to a more exciting subject: ripping you a new one. She will look at you with disgust, pause to let the stench of your embarrassment waft through every living room in America and then she will cut to commercial. The media wont be able to get enough. You'll have op-ed articles in the New York Times calling your smack-down a victory for truth. You wont want to look in the mirror JF. Don't do it. It can't be worth the embarrassment. Although it's still may be worth a million dollars, see? A million little dollars.

You AUGHT to remember...

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