Good news from the battlefield. I've talked with a few of you before about how happy I am with the second iteration of Oprah's Book Club. Not that I've ever watched an episode or checked out the web content or read any of the books in conjunction with her recommendations. (Okay, I reread Light in August last month--good, but not as good as I remembered it--but I bought a beaten copy from a used bookstore, rather than the spiffy 3-book set and I didn't actually participate in any book clubs; and I'm now reading Anna Karenina, but only because the Oprah hullabaloo informed me that Pevear had turned from translating Dostoevsky to Tolstoy.) So when I was reading Light in August, I was curious just what Oprah was doing with these books, especially the more difficult Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying. This article, when it doesn't digress into Lit-lectures on Faulkner, gives a bit of a scoop.
I suppose I loved the rise of OBC2 because it was putting in lots of people's hands not only good books, but difficult and original and good books. But I figured that the vast majority of [insert your assumptions about Oprah viewers] would give up a few pages in, and only a minority would get anything out of it besides exposure to something Great. In my mind, a little exposure was good, and that a handful of people might fall in love with it (I remember my silly, ignorant self and how dramatically he was changed by As I Lay Dying) was marvelous. I'm pleasantly surprised to find that maybe people are more willing to work hard for good fiction than I'd thought (as long as someone they respect is prodding them to). It's interesting. And with all the talk of declining readership and lazy readership, it's nice to see something good.