Thanks, Oprah by Deb Tiffany

bookcoverThe Washington Post review of The Little Giant of Aberdeen County (my book was in the Washington Post!) temporarily confused me because it started with a discussion of Oprah. Even in the book world, I guess, all roads lead to Oprah.

That’s okay. I love Oprah’s book club. I’ve loved it since it started. Remember The Book of Ruth? Remember The House of Sand and Fog, and Drowning Ruth? How about Middlesex, and Vinegar Hill, and The Pilot’s Wife? Oh my god, those are some good books. And how cool is it that Oprah got the nation reading them? All kinds of people. She made reading democratic again, and amen to that.

Do you know how encouraging it is for a wannabe writer to be able to watch a show like Oprah’s, and see that yes, it can be done! Month after month, I’d see novels a lot like what I wanted to write being published by women (and some men, too) who seemed a lot like me. I’d gobble up their novels, and think, hey, if they did it, so can I.

If my book has “O-ppeal” (to quote the Post), I’d like to say that this wasn’t a calculated choice. I’ve immensely enjoyed most of the novels in the Oprah book club. Why wouldn’t I try to write something I’d like to read myself? I’m not ashamed if this makes me a populist, or common. I have a doctorate in literature. I know I’m smart. I don’t think I need to prove it by writing high-falutin’ books. I already did that in a dissertation, and almost bored myself to death.

Of course, I, too, have gotten all the same comments as the rest of the Debs. You should go on Oprah! Send your book in!

Right. I think that in this life, Oprah comes to you. And if she doesn’t, that’s okay with me. As long as she keeps picking the books, I’ll keep reading them. I’m just grateful for all those books that showed me the way.

ps–Did anyone see the Kathy Griffin episode where she tries to get her book chosen for the book club? She attempts to send a pizza with a flyer about her book inside the box. It’s hilarious! But, no, it didn’t work.

8 Replies to “Thanks, Oprah by Deb Tiffany”

  1. Perhaps she should have included an Hermes scarf? Have any Debs been on Oprah? I thought I read somewhere that being in the book club hadn’t guaranteed success – kind of hard to believe. The club has become sort of a Holy Grail for authors, hasn’t it? I agree with the post earlier this week, the books are rather of the doom and gloom genre and I tend to read for enjoyment, entertainment and happy thoughts these days.

  2. I don’t think Oprah’s books are always doom and gloom, but then I haven’t read tons of them. When I’ve read them, it tends to be accidental, like I’ll go pick up a book and it has the “Oprah” label on it, i.e. THE CORRECTIONS and THE PILOT’S WIFE. Interesting her picks have that reputation, though. I did read MIDDLESEX because of watching Jeffrey Eugenides on her show, though, and I’m so glad I did.

    It’s funny how some books — and not just books, but music, films, what have you — reach a certain level of cultural popularity and suddenly they are perceived as “common” no matter what the content. It’s as if conventional wisdom says: “If everyone likes it, it can’t possibly be good!” which is just plain silly.

    By the way, Tiffany, I don’t know how “falutin” LITTLE GIANT is but it’s an intelligent, thoughtful, introspective novel, and not at all common! (Not unlike Truly herself…)

  3. I thought that any book chosen for her club went on to sell a million copies–but maybe I’m wrong…

    It is really cool that she inspired so many Americans to start reading again and form book clubs. It can only be a winning proposition for a writer–even if she hasn’t called any of us yet!

  4. Kim, there’s some something out there that people think makes you a guaranteed success, and apparently it doesn’t, but I can’t recall what it is.

    Tiffany, I can see how your book would have o-ppeal. It does seem to fit into that “type” (the type Oprah USED to pick back before she canceled her book club… that’s one thing people don’t seem to consider when they suggest we all vie for Oprah–that she doesn’t spotlight nearly as many new books as she once did).

    Of course, “Little Giant” has wide-ranging a-ppeal, as well.

    I guess Oprah is just the golden ticket and none of us are Charlie this time around!

  5. I’d forgotten about James Frey. But there you have it. Good point. I still maintain that I liked most of the picks from the original book club, and I think you’re right, Katie. She doesn’t really spotlight debut authors that much anymore. In short, I guess I think that if anyone plans on writing a book just to go on Oprah, they should maybe rethink! But I’m glad I got to see all those authors have success (and by that I mean readership), and I hope maybe some people reading this blog look at our entries and think, “Hey, it can be done!”

  6. Tiffany,
    I just wanted to say THANK YOU for writing “The Little Giant of Aberdeen County.” What a unique and hauntingly insightful story. There are few books that I decide to leave a review on Amazon about but I had to speak up today about your wonderful story. Thanks again–it made my week. best of luck to you in the future.
    P.S Yes I did see that “D-List” episode…a hoot!

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