Sunday, October 31, 2010

Books and Miscellanea at the Do-tique 5

I hope everyone is enjoying a lovely Halloween evening...The weather and the fall colours here today were just perfect. 

I've been a bit absent from the blogosphere lately thanks to some crazy stuff going on over the past week and most of my "doing" has taken place in front of the computer instead of with paintbrush in hand.

I did manage to bake some more bread and some more granola last week and start on the final touches of our basement make-over. This afternoon featured a trip to IKEA for cozy fall/winter bedding for the master bedroom, which I'm excited to put together tomorrow.

So for this Sunday night, I leave you with an update on the books and miscellanea here at The Do-tique:

Image Credit: Kitty Kelley

I was delighted to finally come across a copy of the newest biography on Oprah at the public library instead of having to read it in snippets at the local bookstore. As much as it might seem that an unauthorized biography of America's "Queen of Talk" would be low-brow reading, I couldn't resist wanting to read more about a woman who has been on TV daily for almost the entirety of my own lifetime. Ms. Kelley's writing is that of an "investigative journalist" and I feel that she seeks to be somewhat sensationalistic in places and gives us an almost tabloid like "tell-all" story. In one place it is mentioned that Oprah was so good at the smutty shows she used to do in the 80's and 90's because there really wasn't much that hadn't happened in her life, so it was easy for her to relate personally to her guests and their wacky situations. 

My readings in university took a turn into documents about well-known mediaeval figures written by their peers. We would read what the individual had written to his audiences and about himself and then read two or three accounts written about that same person by his friends and his adversaries and at the end, try to devise an idea of what was behind what was motivating each person to paint such a different picture of the same individual. Ms. Kelley accuses Oprah of sometimes painting an embellished image of herself - she shows her childhood and adolescence as worse than it may have been and her current public image as much warmer and friendlier than those who work with her might think. Ms. Kelley's picture certainly highlights all of the most sensationalistic moment's in Oprah's life. My guess (and Ms. Kelley's guess in the intro) is that her friends and her "official biographer" would choose to reflect longer on Oprah's good works and astoundingly generous and talented personality. I imagine that the truth is somewhere in  between.

The biography talks a fair bit about Oprah's aspirations as an actress and both her successful and less-glowing appearances in movies over the years. The interesting part is that it seems that Oprah's greatest role is the one that she has played in the process of acting out her own life. The biography almost reads as a very dramatic movie script and I understand that it may indeed be turned into a movie one day.

Overall, it is satisfying my curiosity about this very important media icon and makes me wonder if we will ever have an answer to why Oprah's staying power seems to have surpassed that of most of her daytime television competitors and her own icons of popular culture like Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley. As did Oprah, these stars also suffered a litany of childhood traumas, experienced overwhelming, godlike status through fame and fortune, had the power to block out those who were not willing to accept the untruths they wanted to hear about themselves, but unlike Oprah (so far), they ended up succumbing to their own self-destructive behavior. Maybe an addiction to pecan pies and fried chicken isn't quite as deadly as prescription drugs?...

A decent and thankfully brief review appeared at the time of publication in the Globe and Mail.

DIY Rating: 6
Interesting but fluffy reading on a woman 
who has truly captured the "zeitgeist" of female
American media consumers for two generations.

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