Thursday, June 07, 2007
Cormac, We Still Hardly Know Ye
On June 5, Oprah displayed a veritable literary coup d'état with her televised interview of noted recluse and genius wordsmith Cormac McCarthy. His book The Road had been chosen as an Oprah Book Club selection, and she was allowed an hour long chat with Mr. McCarthy. For a few days leading up to the show I had wondered how in-depth the interview would be. Would he reveal all his deep dark secrets regarding his own writing process? Would he detail the intricate and multi-layered symbolism sprinkled throughout the sparse The Road, thus not allowing readers to draw their own conclusions? Or would he simply sound like an idiot, full of sound and fury but signifying nothing? Certainly I enjoy a good interview or article on authors, though I can't stand audience Q&A's due to the high likliness of stupid questions. However, I was concerned that my image of Cormac would forever be tainted, given his past refusals to foster a public image.
Fortunately, despite Oprah's attempts, Cormac revealed little and maintained a properly reclusive demeanor throughout. By revealing nothing he preserved his integrity. That is not to say that those who do go on Oprah are somehow sellouts to her minions. Quite the contrary. Those authors who can maintain an appropriate public persona which allows for the occassional foray into pop culture without diminishing his or her work should be commended. And sometimes the interviews are quite interesting. In this case, because McCarthy demonstrated an interesting ability to remain aloof of Oprah's profile, yet did so without appearing to be condenscending, he and Oprah deserve kudo's.
However, it was disappointing to see that her next Oprah book will be Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. Having read it a few years ago and recommended it to any number of people, I do think in the back of my mind I was grateful that the book had escaped Oprah's claws. At least my copy won't have the Oprah Book Club sticker. Which makes me wonder, why do I get upset over Oprah's Book Club?
Update 5/8: Check out this review of the interview by people who apparently do these sort of things for a living.