Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
especially welcome to extensive readers

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Oprah's new summer selection may be Middlesex

Word on the street(the Publisher's Weekly street,that is) has Oprah picking Pulitzer Prize winning novel Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides as her book club's summer reading. Book Expo buzz from the many booksellers attending said that Picador had shipped them cartons of the paperback edition and asked them not to open the boxes until after the show airs today(Cormac McCarthy's big appearance is scheduled for today,too).

I have very fond memories of Middlesex-at my first trip to BEA,the first galley that I grabbed was the Eugenides novel. It had been written up in the Times as one of the more promising titles to be showcased there and I adored the cover art,which was beautifully evocative and yet,gave no hint of what was to follow. The paperback editions have decent covers,too,but I still prefer the original.

So,what is the book about? It's the story of Calliope,the child of Greek immigrants who is raised as a girl for many years in Detroit until a couple of key moments in her teens brings about the discovery that she is both boy and girl. How Cal deals with this and the family history that may or may not have contributed to his/her condition makes up the heart of the story. Eugenides is also known as the author of The Virgin Suicides,which Sophia Coppola used to first test the waters as a film director. I didn't read TVS or see the film,but I've heard nothing but good things about both versions.

I can see why Oprah would want to pick Middlesex-it's smart,well written and has not only the troubled family angle that she seems drawn to with her reading but the book also touches on an immigrant's journey to America(a hot button topic of the moment).The fact that it's a Pulitzer winner only adds a cherry on top of the Summer Reading Sundae here.

My only regret is that she didn't pick a more recent release. I fully understand that the need to choose a paperback is important;back in my bookselling days,folks would be furious if the new Oprah book was a hardcover. "They're supposed to be paperbacks!" grumbled the irked souls who didn't want to shell out $25(and I worked at an indie store,which meant no instant discount) for the hardbound edition. Some didn't mind,of course,but paperbacks are key in the summer time,for vacationers to be able to slip in their suitcases and beach bags.

And there are some good books about to,or just out in paperback that could use a big Oprah push,like Sara Gruen's Water For Elephants or Carolyn Parkhurst's Lost and Found. There are also plenty of paperbacks originals to choose from as well. A fella named Pete Jordan wrote a book about his experiences as a wandering dishwasher in nearly every state in the US called Dishwasher(what else?),which has been getting great reviews and even a featured article in the NYT. Imagine a guy like that on Oprah,now that would be a good show!

But,atleast Oprah is reading fiction again and choosing really good books,so we should be happy about that. Middlesex is a marvellous book and if more readers can get to discover it due to her,that makes it all worth it.


Pop Culture Diva said...

Baby steps Lady T. At least she's picking more contemporary selections.

lady t said...

You're right,PCD-slow and steady wins the race,as they say. That interview with Cormac McCarthy was great,he's such a laid back,real down to earth guy!