Oprah Winfrey

Strangled by Roots
August 06, 2007

The genealogy craze in America.

Race Against History
June 11, 2007

It seemed like just another harmless moment on daytime TV: Oprah Winfrey began an "Ask Dr. Oz" segment with the physician Mehmet Oz, and the two arrived at the subject of excessive sweating. Oz cited high blood pressure as a major cause and then asked Winfrey if she knew why black Americans experienced hypertension at disproportionate rates. No problem so far. But then Winfrey answered Oz's question by reviving what scholars have called the "slavery hypothesis" of hypertension.

Getting to the End
May 21, 2007

The Road By Cormac McCarthy (Alfred A. Knopf, 241 pp., $24) IN ADDITION to the 9/11 novel, and the 9/11 novel that is pretending not to be a 9/11 novel, an old genre has been re-awakened by new fears: the post-apocalyptic novel (which may well be, in fact, the 9/11 novel pretending not to be one). The possibility that familiar, habitual existence might be so disrupted within the next hundred years that crops will fail, warm places will turn into deserts, and species will become extinct—that areas of the earth may become uninhabitable—holds and horrifies the contemporary imagination.

Thank You For Sharing
June 05, 2006

Now celebrating her twentieth year as the host of the world's most influential talk show, Oprah Winfrey is to television what Bach is to music, Giotto to painting, Joyce to literature. Time magazine hit the nail on the head when it recently voted her one of the world's handful of "leaders and revolutionaries." (Condoleezza Rice wrote Oprah's citation: "She has struggled with many of the challenges that we all face, and she has transformed her life. Her message is empowering: I did it, and so can you.") Like all seminal creative figures, her essential gift lies in her synthesizing power.

A Thousand Darknesses
March 20, 2006

NightBy Elie Wiesel Translated by Marion Wiesel(Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 120 pp., $9) NIGHT IS THE MOST DEVASTATING account of the Holocaust that I have ever read. It is devastating first because of its simplicity. The basic outline is this: after the Germans invade Hungary in 1944, the teenaged Eliezer and his family, religious Jews who live comfortably in their community, are deported to Auschwitz. He and his father, separated from the rest of their family, are assigned to hard labor.

Abhorring a Vacuum
October 15, 2001

I. If anyone still had a longing for the great American "social novel," the events of September 11 may have corrected it, merely through the reminder of an asymmetry of their own: that whatever the novel gets up to, the "culture" can always get up to something bigger. Ashes defeat garlands. If topicality, relevance, reportage, social comment, preachy presentism, and sidewalk smarts—in sum, the contemporary American novel in its big triumphalist form—are the novel's chosen sport, then the novel will sooner or later be outrun by its own streaking material. The novel may well be, as Stendhal wrot

Clippings
October 08, 2001

Is it a little laughter that we need now? Then behold the contrition of yesterday's frivolous, the new fashion in gravity. The man who edits Vanity Fair has ruled that the age of cynicism is over. He would know. I always wondered what it would take to put a cramp in the trashy mind, and at last I have my answer: a mass grave in lower Manhattan. So now depth has buzz. The papers are filled with hip people seeing through hipness, composing elegiac farewells to the days of Gary Condit and Jennifer Lopez. The on dit has moved beyond the apple martini.

Washington Diarist: Clippings
October 08, 2001

Is it a little laughter that we need now? Then behold the contrition of yesterday's frivolous, the new fashion in gravity. The man who edits Vanity Fair has ruled that the age of cynicism is over. He would know. I always wondered what it would take to put a cramp in the trashy mind, and at last I have my answer: a mass grave in lower Manhattan. So now depth has buzz. The papers are filled with hip people seeing through hipness, composing elegiac farewells to the days of Gary Condit and Jennifer Lopez. The on dit has moved beyond the apple martini.

Against Reparations
July 23, 2001

The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks by Randall Robinson (Plume, 262 pp., $13) I can buy a big house in an exclusive neighborhood. I can buy a fancy car or two. I can send my kids to private school. I can work hard and empower myself. Oprah Winfrey pulled herself up by the bootstraps.

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