Reading Oprah : how Oprah's book club changed the way America reads / Cecilia Konchar Farr.

Bibliographic Details
Main Author: Farr, Cecilia Konchar, 1958-
Format: Book
Published: Albany : State University of New York Press, c2005.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In this excellent study of an exceptional media phenomenon, Farr, chair of the English Department at the College of St. Catherine, argues that Oprah's book club was a truly significant cultural event. In succinct, stylish prose, Farr describes a "uniquely American Culture War" at the heart of the high-brow versus middle-brow controversy. Farr elegantly summarizes the book club's genesis, its capacity to generate massive sales and the literary content of Oprah's picks. She praises Oprah's democratic, "bottom up" style of teaching, which enabled the least educated readers to try books they might never otherwise have read. She points out how Toni Morrison's crucial presence on the show enabled reflective literary discussions to reach millions, despite the supposed vulgarity of the televisual format. Farr also demonstrates how Oprah's fiction choices forged a link in the public mind between social responsibility and literature, particularly regarding race. In an engaging personal voice that draws on the theories of a range of cultural critics, Farr considers the meaning of middlebrow literature, the history of the novel, immigration and literacy, class, self-improvement and democracy in America and how Oprah mapped a new public space in which a "conversation with books" became possible for millions of viewers normally excluded from the rarefied world of scholarship. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved