Nine years after a media storm erupted over comments Jonathan Franzen made in relation to his novel’s inclusion in Oprah’s Book Club, the Queen of All Media invited the author to her show today to discuss his new book, Freedom, as well as the kerfuffle now safely in their rearview mirror. You could have subtitled their discussion The Corrections; both Oprah and Franzen appeared eager to set the record straight about the sorta-feud. The two were a little tense during the minutes dedicated to going over that period in their shared history, with a commendably not-quite-contrite Franzen citing his unpreparedness with the soundbite-obsessed, controversy-hungry television media cycle as part of the reason why this particular molehill was turned into a mountain. “It was probably the big thing I learned from the experience, which was to have more respect for television,” he told Oprah. When asked about the impression of him as a “snob” he replied that he isn’t one at all, but rather a “Midwestern egalitarian.” Although, I’m not quite sure whether using the phrase “Midwestern egalitarian” actually helps or hurts him on this point.
Things were a little less awkward when they discussed the present day, hitting topics like Franzen’s 20-minute conversation with President Obama and his solitary writing process. For her part, Oprah was effusive in praising Freedom. What do you think, Shelf-Lifers? Happy to see the reconciliation, even nine years after the fact?