Oprah, Martha, Grimm, oh my!

There's exciting news in the publishing industry. Apparently Oprah's Book Club is expanding beyond classic, dead authors. "I wanted to open the door and broaden the field," Ms. Winfrey said in an interview. "That allows me the opportunity to do what I like to do most, which is sit and talk to authors about their work. It's kind of hard to do that when they're dead." That's exciting.

Even better, she's no longer confining her selections to fiction. Ms. Winfrey said she intended to widen her choices to an array of genres, including history, biography and historical fiction, to give herself more room to follow her instincts about what makes a positive reading experience.

"For six years, I couldn't really read any nonfiction or biography because I thought I was wasting my time" by spending hours on a book that did not fit her book club format, she said. "Now, when I read something really interesting or promising, I can find a way to introduce it to the public." Her aides say she alone reads potential selections and makes the choice.

I'm sure publishing execs are falling all over themselves now. One of the things I learned while at NYU is that the best way to guarantee sales of your book is to convince Oprah to endorse it. And the best endorsement is being a selection for her book club.

And Martha Stewart's Apprentice started this week. That's also exciting news. So much to comment on there. For starters, critics of the show abound. Lisa de Moraes of the Washington Post hates it; Henry Blodget of Slate loves it. Personally, I side with Blodget. I remember when the first counselor and I kept the branch president to a strict focus during branch presidency meeting so we could get home to watch the first season of the Apprentice. Since then, Donald's just gotten far too full of himself and I've lost interest. But Martha brings a different sense of class to it. For starters, theme music: "Money, Money, Money" v. "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)." And Martha writes personal rejection notes. How cool is that? Which, to be honest, also makes much more sense to me considering that I never understood how you could fire someone who's never been hired. Duh. I like that she let them divide themselves. Personally, what on earth made them think it was a good idea to divide up into corporate v. creative? Can someone say that somewhere in New York there's a loft with 16 idiots in it? The Apprentice idea isn't anything new; they should all know that they each need their corporate and their creative people. Of course, if they'd split up the Creatives, would the episode have been nearly as entertaining? I don't think so. The Creatives demonstrated that creative people often do not play well with others. Sad, but true.

Of course, you can't discuss this week's Martha without discussing the book issue. Okay, whose bright idea was it to give someone 24 hours to write a picture book? I mean, come on, people . . . All we need is more people out there thinking you can crank out a good picture book in 10 hours (like good ol' Jeff did). And, as PWDaily noted, Anyone who has ever read a slush pile didn't have to wait for the judges' decision; the contest was clearly over as soon as the Matchstick team read a line from its story that rhymed "Skittles" with "vittles." As Schwartz said on air, "They chose to do it in a rhyme scheme, which is something that very few people can do well. It's extremely difficult to not have the rhyme feel forced." Gibson added, "If you're going to risk it, it better be hilarious. And there's not a lot of laughs [here]." Rhyme, as a general rule, equals rejection. Perhaps Matchstick was cursed when they were assigned to work in the Dr. Seuss Conference Room. I don't know.

(Speaking of slush piles, since I goaded th. into sharing student writing, I should perhaps share something from the slush pile. How much further does one continue reading if the second word of the manuscript is misspelled? I found that I was asking myself that question yesterday. Of course, it was a rather entertaining visual image: The bubble-gun smacking resident assistant led [Protagonist] across the busy common floor at [University Name]. But I continued, only to be dismayed to come across one of the standard cliches of this genre on page three: It took some effort to push away memories of hugging her family goodbye at the airport and the tears that had threatened to fall. I know I'm cold and heartless, but I will never ever ever date anyone who confesses to "threatening tears." Those are justifiable grounds for a breakup.)

Anyway, in the end, I was extremely grateful to watch Jeff go away buh-bye. Hopefully Matchstick will create drama next week and fail miserably as a team so that we can watch Jim go away buh-bye too.

And, finally, speaking of fairy tales and all, last night, I went to see The Brothers Grimm. I really liked it. I think it might be my new favorite fractured fairy tale. I'm intrigued with how they twisted and meshed the various tales together. It was quite amazing. This is a movie that I would like to see again, particularly now that I've seen it and hopefully won't spend as much of the movie on edge. (I confess . . . I'm a movie wuss. Me + Scary Movie = All Sorts of Unhappiness.) This is not a movie for the wee ones (standard scariness attributed to monsters lurking in the wings, moving trees, plus some implied violence--severed heads in a cask, you know, that kind of stuff), so make a date night of it.


Th. said...


One of my new hobbies is to speculate what publisher you work for. I think I have enough clues to know where you live, roughly, so that narrows down your places of employment.

I'm not ready to send you a guess yet, though....

And I love Bubblegun! I listened to it at Borders once and liked it and since I never bought it, it has acquired a mystique of Swedish perfection that, no doubt, it can no longer live up to. So I still do not own it.

Edgy said...

Ooh. I think I'm being challenged to be more sneaky. Hmm. Of course, even when you do guess, I'm going to deny, deny, deny. But not necessarily for the reasons you think.

Th. said...


I just notice is says "Draper" right on your page. So figurig out "just north of Point of the Mountain" doesn't feel so clever anymore....

Edgy said...

Pshaw. Figuring out just north of the Point is still clever. You just made it more work than it needed to be.