Oprah Winfrey’s Book Club, Unauthorized

By Jason Boog Comment

kitty23.pngAs rumors swirled last week that Oprah Winfrey may start a book club on her new cable network, Kitty Kelley (pictured) revealed some behind-the-scenes drama at the book club in her unauthorized biography of Winfrey.

Kelley’s 544-page biography comes out tomorrow. GalleyCat picked out a few choice passages about the book club so you can know what to expect. For instance, the book spends pages analyzing James Frey’s appearance on Winfrey’s show.

Frey had been a book club pick, but once he was exposed for fabricating portions of his memoir, Winfrey roasted him on national television. According to the biography, Winfrey apologized to the author in the green room after her televised rebuke. Here’s a quote: “The New York Times and The Washington Post wouldn’t let it go. We had to stop it. I’m so sorry, but they were investigating us. And we just couldn’t have that,” Winfrey reportedly told Frey.

In the biography novelist Alice Walker wondered why she had never been invited on the book club. She is quoted: “I love Oprah and I admire her and I think she’s a gift to the planet…but she’s put a huge remove between us that I don’t understand…maybe my views are just too out there for her.”

The book also recounts the beginning of the book club in 1996, a moment when critics were fiercely divided over her power to move millions of copies of books. One unnamed publisher was particularly unnerved by Winfrey’s change from controversial talk show host to book critic: “It’s like waking up in the morning and finding your husband has changed into Kevin Costner,” explained the publisher.