There should be a starting line with a guy waving a checkered flag. A man with a starting gun who looks at his watch and then fires his starting pistol. All authors then heave their books toward Harpo Studios and whoever hits Oprahs feet gets their book picked for her Book Club. The streets and the Chicago river would be littered with thousands and thousands of books not thrown with enough might, enough sweat, enough desire to break the magic boundaries of the Oprahs inner sanctum.
Franzen walks in after dissing her with his last book. Some guys have all the luck. Most authors cant' beg borrow or steal their way into her book club. It is a curious mix of what? A good story, a dog story, a story of Midwestern families? Maybe it isn't story at all. Maybe it is a curious mix of who you know and how much moxie your publisher has. Or maybe you just haven't had a hard enough life to lift yourself into the I saw the light crowd and overcame drugs, alcohol sex. Maybe you just don't have a story to tell.
Of course one doesn't really know what gets Oprah to pick a book. Some say you have to get her best friend Gail read the book. Some say you have to hope that someone in her audience recommends a book to her. Some say there is simply no sure way to get into her book club and you might as well buy a lottery ticket. There used to charges of favoring minorities but that went away. Maybe, maybe you just have to write a really good book and let the chips fall. Nah.
William Hazelgrove's novel Rocket Man is out in the fall