So the new selection in Oprah's Book Club is a collection of three novels by William Faulkner: As I Lay Dying, The Sound and the Fury, and Light in August. I like how recently she has been going to some of the classics and perhaps getting people to read these books. I've read As I Lay Dying and thought it was excellent.
I was flipping through some of the Amazon.com reviews of this three book set and some reviewers were complainging that Oprah should be supporting new writers and not dead authors that everyone has heard of. While I sort of understand this sentiment because the publishing business is awfully tough and some good writers could use the extra exposure, I don't think it is entirely fair.
Many readers may have heart of Faulkner and John Steinbeck, Garica Marquez, and Pearl Buck, but this doesn't mean that these readers have read the authors. Out of the six books chosen so far for Oprah's new book club, I have read just the one by Faulkner. I have a degree in English and focused my classes on Literature and American Lit when available (small college, it might have been different in a larger university). I've read other novels by Steinbeck, and Garcia Marquez. I don't believe I've read Pearl Buck. But despite the large amount of fantasy and science fiction that I read, I think I would still consider myself moderately well read.
So, I think Oprah's focus on the classics is a very good thing. It is a reminder that I should go back and read some of these books for the first time. If they can be rightfully considered classics, then it shouldn't matter that attention is being given to these books outside the high school or college classroom. That attention should be given.
Since these books aren't really "news" anymore compared to the next Dan Brown or Harry Potter book (both of which I am looking forward to), I think that they are being brought back into the public attention can only be a good thing. In theory, they are classics for a reason and while everyone has different taste in books sometimes books that should be read are books you want to read.
Now where did I put that copy of East of Eden?