For most writers, getting picked for Oprah's Book Club is a golden ticket. The Harpo stamp of approval always boosts sales (sometimes substantially so), and involves added publicity, including a sit down interview with Oprah herself. In 2001, when Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections was hand-picked by Oprah as an upcoming selection in the Book Club, Farrar, Straus And Giroux, his publishers, were ecstatic. Franzen, however, was confused and uncomfortable. His outspokenness about his discomfort led to claims of a feud between him and Oprah. After being blown up in the press, the so-called-tiff led to a public reconciliation.
This week, Slate has an excerpt from a new book on FSG, which chronicles, among other things, the Franzen/Oprah "mini-feud." It's an interesting look at the publisher's perspective around their newest star crossing one of the most important people in media. The except is from Hothouse: The Art Of Survival And The Survival Of Art At America's Most Celebrated Publishing House, Farrar, Straus And Giroux, by Boris Kachka, and is out now.
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