Monday, April 16, 2007

Oprah's Going to Find This 'Joseph Pulitzer' and Tear Him a New One

You might think that the news that Cormac McCarthy's The Road won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction Monday would please Oprah Winfrey, given that the novel was her most recent pick for her book club. Perhaps, one could suppose, Oprah feels validated by the announcement, seeing her 2003 strategic maneuver to shift her book club selections from the likes of Indistinguishable Pandering Female Empowerment Novel no. __ to more bona fide and established classics (that James Frey hiccup notwithstanding) come full circle, as she had now beaten one of the world's most prestigious literary awards to the punch. Maybe Oprah is even narcissistic enough to believe that she influenced the Pulitzer judges' decision.

While these theories are certainly reasonable (especially that last one), there is one resultant aspect of The Road winning the Pulitzer that, once it occurs to Oprah, is going to make her very angry:

As is the case with any book that wins a Pulitzer Prize (or Nobel Prize, or National Book Award, or Booker Prize, el al), Knopf--the publisher of The Road--is going to issue a new printing of the novel whose cover advertises that fact. So do you know what that means the next edition of The Road is not going to include? The Oprah's Book Club seal.

Knopf is going to have the balls to sell a book on the merits that it won some stupid 90-year-old literary award and not because Oprah told people to buy it. This is a slap in the face to the supreme bellowing adjudicator of middlebrow culture, who has done so much for the publishing industry by successfully commanding her slavishly devoted audience of housewives, the unemployed and the enfeebled to buy books that the vast majority of them never end up finishing (or perhaps even getting past the first page of) because they're too busy watching "Oprah" (and probably "Ellen", and, let's say, "Grey's Anatomy") while they eat cookie sheet after cookie sheet of nachos...and there's no way Oprah is going to take it sitting down.

Don't be surprised if by this time next year, the Pulitzer Prize has--following a sizable financial transaction--been renamed "The Oprah Winfrey Award for Clap-and-Scream Recognition", with the severely altered guidelines allowing John Travolta to win for the next three years in a row, never once for writing a book.

1 comment:

Definitively Donna said...

Thanks for enlightening me. I hadn't realized that Oprah and Pulitzer committee, apparently, both pander to Gatherites. It all makes sense to me now.