Monday, December 29, 2008

Oprah, Maybe YOU Ought To Read The Books You Recommend!

If Oprah wants to go into politics it would seem she has some of the necessary qualifications. The willingness to recommend something even if she, personally, hasn't read it!

Just like in Washington where staffers read pending legislation and give their bosses a synopsis thus suggesting how they should vote. If it turns out to be a bad piece of legislation the caveat seems to be "I voted for it based on the information available (from members of my staff who read it.) If they did. Or did they merely skim it and pass on a less then accurate summation?

A mere two years ago Oprah was embarrassed and angry when she found a book she had strongly recommended turned out to be fiction rather than non-fiction. Remember Jame Frey and A Million Little Pieces ? The story about a young man's decent into and ascent from the world of drug and alcohol addiction. It was replete with bone chilling detail and characters that should have made one suspect. Why the author didn't present it as a brilliant piece of fiction is still a puzzle.

Next there was Love and Consequences a piece of fiction represented as a memoir that wasn't even written by the same person!

Now there is one of the greatest love stories the book club has ever come across. Angel at the Fence: The True Story of a Love that Survived. This one is such a pat man-meets-girl-man-loses-girl-man-gets-girl, it's a wonder that even with the briefest of skimming one might be suspicious! A man in a concentration camp meets a young girl on the other side of the fence who gives him apples to sustain him until he is moved out. Years later, after a blind date, they discover their past connection while reminiscing. It's a wonderful, heart warming story. The problem is it's not true!

My, oh my. It reminds me of the old saying, "Please Mother, I'd rather do it myself!" It also reminds me of the recent turmoil we had here regarding whether certain major pieces of writing should be on school's required reading lists. I've yet to learn if those opposed had actually read the books to which they objected.

I would guess Oprah has little time to delve deeply into the books she recommends. As with the politicians and their legislation, she depends a great deal on staff. If it were me, however, putting my name on a recommendation that could boost an author onto the best seller lists, I'd want to make darn sure it was warranted.

Having made my living in public relations for a good many years, I know a bit about "spin" and embellishment. So this an across the board recommendation to a person who's name is considered trustworthy, if they want it to remain so, and the staff that serves them, read the book - and if anything looks to be a little much, check it out. If you don't have the time, don't make the recommendation.

The same goes to the politicians. The least you can do for us is read what you're going to vote on or make darn sure your staff does!

As for the authors; what the heck is wrong with good fiction anyway? A good read is a good read!


Linda said...

I'm always amazed at how little our Senators and Representatives read of what they pass or fail to pass. That's their job to read.

I've never read Oprah's recommended books. I never figured I'd find them interesting.

John Dwyer said...

When I read your blog I had to look at my reading list as I know this story from somewhere...but it is not on my list. A puzzlement!! This is a great work as a work of fiction. However, presenting it as a true story has serious implications for the true story of the holocaust. This work will continually be trotted out as representative of what detractors claim as the fiction of the holocaust. Another note. After Opraha's other fiascos, why would anyone use her as a source for what to read? I do not watch her but I hope she makes it clear just what she does and does not read.

Rinkly Rimes said...

I didn't realise that story about the concentration camp wasn't true!! Oh dear, it's just like being disillusioned about Santa Claus all over again.

A. said...

A Million Little Pieces struck me as, at the very least, embellished from the early scene of un-medicated dental surgery. No dental surgeon would risk malpractice like that. I do not have the experience to say the same of the rehab center's "no anesthesia" policy. I, too, was confused - it was a well-written piece whether labeled fiction or not.


Margie's Musings said...

I also think voters should study the issues and discover how their candidate feels about the issues that mean much to them.

Ignorant voters are what gave us politicians like Reagan and Bush...brainless people whose staff run the other words..front men.

Cheney, for example, knew he was unelectable but chose himself for vice president, knowing he could manipulate Bush.

Miriam said...

So sad that the Rosenblats lied about their story. Boy in the Striped Pajamas, which was a great book and now movie, never pretended to be true. The Rosenblats, like Madoff, harming other Jews and it's terrible.

I read a New York Times article about Stan Lee and Neal Adams the comic book artists supporting another TRUE Holocaust love story. There was a beautiful young artist, Dina Gottliebova Babbitt, who painted Snow White and the Seven Dwarves on the children's barracks at Auschwitz to cheer them up. Dina's art became the reason she and her Mother survived Auschwitz.

Painting the mural for the children caused Dina to be taken in front of Dr. Mengele, the Angel of Death. She thought she was going to be gassed, but bravely she stood up to Mengele and he decided to make her his portrait painter, saving herself and her mother from the gas chamber as long as she was doing painting for him.

Dina's story is true because some of the paintings she did for Mengele in Auschwitz survived the war and are at the Auschwitz Birkenau Museum. Also, the story of her painting the mural of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on the children's barrack has been corroborated by many other Auschwitz prisoners, and of course her love and marriage to the animator of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs the Disney movie after the war in Paris is also a fact.

I wish Oprah would do a story about Dina and her art not about the Rosenblats who were pulling the wool over all our eyes