Monday, March 31, 2003
Patti Thorn unconvinced by the new Oprah book club.
One of the main complaints Oprah suffered from the last book club, Franzen's barbs notwithstanding, was that her book choices were too depressing, that they were nothing more than soap-opera sagas filled with family dysfunction and unrelenting sorrow.
So are the classics a laugh riot?
Well. Let's see...
There's the story, for example, of a wealthy entrepreneur who falls passionately in love with a married woman. During the course of this novel, a woman will be beaten by her lover and later run over by a car. The entrepreneur will be discovered to have a criminal past and shot to death by a jealous husband. That man will then turn the gun on himself.
There's more, believe me.
Let's just say if The Great Gatsby doesn't put you in stitches, there are other upbeat tales to choose from, fun-loving stories of perversion (Lolita); of good people sunk into crushing poverty (Grapes of Wrath); of families torn apart by hate, envy, frustration and favoritism (East of Eden); of poor, horribly mistreated orphans (Oliver, David Copperfield).
And even if readers don't mind trudging through more of Oprah's sorrowful downtrodden plots, you still have to wonder: Will they joyfully skip through the same kind of prose they cursed in college?