Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Elie Wiesel Needs Oprah's Book Club Like...

Elie Wiesel needs Oprah's book club as much as Leo Tolstoy needs it. Maybe less. I strongly suspect that Mr. Wiesel's memoir about his experiences during World War II would have garnered worldwide interest without Oprah's endorsement, just as Anna Karenina would have maintained its healthy book sales without Oprah's help.

At this point, I'm wondering whether Oprah's book club logo might actually hurt Mr. Wiesel's book, Night, which has supplanted James Frey's A Million Little Pieces as Amazon's number one bestseller.

We all know that the veracity of Frey's book has been called into question. Will Mr. Wiesel's book, which is also a memoir, be similarly scrutinized? Reuters suggests that Oprah has already offered a disclaimer on her Web site that says, essentially, the book might not accurately represent every small detail of Mr. Wiesel's family history, but that it's true enough to be called an autobiography.

Well, then, the book has Oprah's endorsement. Sort of.

But will that endorsement, and the associated disclaimer, just fuel the nonsense of those who demand proof of that which is true? Will Oprah's endorsement of Night delight Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and people of his ilk?

Is this one time when it really would have made sense for an author to turn down Oprah's invitation to join her book club? Perhaps.

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