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I just got an e-mail from the Oprah Book Club (I was in a freelancing period; it was an idea) revealing her new book club pick: Cormac McCarthy's The Road. I have not read it yet--perhaps this is an opportunity--in part because it seemed an awful lot like the Border Trilogy only without the humor, or the horses, or anything but an indescribably bleak portrait of post-apocalyptic America. I'll let William Kennedy describe it:McCarthy has said that death is the major issue in the world and that writers who don't address it are not serious. Death reaches very near totality in this novel. Billions of people have died, all animal and plant life, the birds of the air and the fishes of the sea are dead: ''At the tide line a woven mat of weeds and the ribs of fishes in their millions stretching along the shore as far as eye could see like an isocline of death.''
An isocline of death. That is one hell of a line.
I appreciated Oprah's book club when it revealed Jonathan Franzen as the insufferable snot The Corrections suggested he was, though I had a beef with the choice. I pretty much gave up on it when she chose A Million Little Pieces, an overrated book that benefited from an ingenious marketing campaign centering on the author's big-man boasts, and was terrible enough on its own merits without the benefit of being a tissue of lies. And her recent love for The Secret was indefensible, although it intrigued some folks.
But following Faulkner with Poitier and now one of the most dismal books of recent years: my hat is off. Say what you will, but I respect her recent patternless eclecticism. And she's bringing the reclusive McCarthy to the television screen, something for which I am duly appreciative, even if the prospect makes me, as something of a recluse, nervous to watch. But I'll be watching, and perhaps reading as well. I'm a member of the Oprah Book Club, after all, if a quiet one.