Even Queen Oprah must bow down to the overpowering literary force that is Freedom. Although she doesn't plan to reveal her new book club selection till tomorrow's show, the Associated Press reports that the Queen of Talk, like everyone else (except the Washington Post's Ron Charles) thinks Jonathan Franzen's new novel is the greatest thing ever published (at least this year) and now demands that her loyal subjects read it with her.
The last time Oprah attempted to form an unholy alliance with Franzen, back in 2001 when The Corrections appeared, the novelist dared to mention his doubts about "public tastemaking" to a few reporters he met on his book tour. The reporters duly published his comments. Word got back to the Queen, who promptly took back her summons for Franzen to appear on her show and branded him with a reputation as an intellectual snot.
But if Oprah could find it in her heart to forgive James Frey for making up everything in his "memoir," A Million Little Pieces, she is certainly magnanimous enough to forgive Franzen for his brutal honesty.
The equally-magnanimous Tweeter Emperor Franzen has, in turn, anointed O: The Oprah Magazine as an official selection of his own book club.
Just in case you were holding off on reading Freedom until Oprah gave the word (thus maybe proving Franzen's point about "public tastemaking"), blogger Paul Barrett, who read the whole thing, has kindly provided a graph showing "Voice and Reader Gratification in Jonathan Franzen's Freedom".
It appears that after the awesome first section, the book kind of slows down until page 400 or so. But persevere dear readers! Or both Queen Oprah and Emperor Franzen will have their revenge.
Emperor Franzen -- the Tweeter -- has, by the way, been unmasked by the blog Galley Cat. The mastermind behind all this evil is Andrew Shaffer of Davenport, Iowa, formerly a writer of greeting cards but now the author of Great Philosophers Who Failed At Love, which hits bookstores next winter.