Oprah goes to Auschwitz
Oprah, the most important marketing tool for any author, yesterday made her latest "Book Club" choice: Elie Wiesel's Night.
After the debacle of James Frey's truth-challenged "memoir," A Million Little Pieces, which Oprah defended by phone on Larry King Live (and it was a sort of half-baked defense at that), she needed to find a book for her audience whose truth is indisputable and whose message carries real power.
Night is a slim volume, but its weight is immense. It is the story of Wiesel's experiences in a Nazi concentration camp--a tale of horror as seen through the eyes of a teenage boy who can't understand why God would allow it to happen to him and his family. Unlike the Frey book, it wasn't duded up with half-truths in the hopes of its author scoring a three-book/three-picture deal. If Oprah's readers thought the Faulkner was hard to read, I wonder what they'll think of this.
I read Night for the Human Rights course I took under "Dr. March," about whom I've written here before. He and I had another long lunch together recently. He's just back from his annual Christmastime tour of Polish death camps. Yes, you read that right. For a decade, he's taken a group of students each year over the holiday break to nine sites across Poland--always in the dead of winter because, he says, "then you get the full impact of the place...we're in five layers of clothes to keep warm and you think of the prisoners who lived through winters there in bare feet, wearing only cotton pajamas...you can find no better testament to the strength of the human will to survive."
Oprah says she will accompany author Wiesel to Auschwitz soon.
Dr. March says I should go along when he takes his next group abroad in December. "It is a transformative experience. You should do it and write about it," he said. "No, you must do it."
Then he sent me a reading list to help me prepare for the trip. I think he's serious.
I will reread Night.