Like James Frey, Jonathan Franzen had a colorful public controversy with Oprah and her book club. Given the chance to do it over, would the author of The Corrections handled it differently?
Question: Do you regret your run-in with Oprah?
Jonathan Franzen: Do I regret any part of that experience? All these years later, it’s hard. Yeah, sure, as a writer you regret how long it takes to you fully figure out what the real situation was. And I want to rewrite it in my head and know the whole thing, rather than only part of it.
So I think it’s hard to find fault though. I mean regret really means; what does regret mean? It’s not like I wasn’t trying very hard to do my best.
Some of these things just have to play out the way they play out.
Question: If you could do it again, would you want to be part of her book club?
Jonathan Franzen: Yeah, I never really had any problem with that. It was probably not a great fit. The world kind of divides it into people that, one, opinion of Oprah Winfrey, and people who have the diametrically opposite opinion. That’s a remarkable thing to achieve, to divide the world in two. You’re sort of parting the seas.
I think I feel some confidence, she’d be comfortable with the magnitude of that image.
Recorded On: April 1, 2008