Oprah recently named the memoir Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton, the story of a mom who loves her family despite her husband’s infidelity, as the next book for her Oprah’s Book Club. Doyle is already a best-selling author, public speaker, and popular blogger, but Oprah picking her book will likely sky-rocket her profile to new heights. Unfortunately, when one super successful author gets picked to be even more successful, that means many other well-known authors will not.
One of those writers is Jennifer Weiner. Weiner has a habit of criticizing the literary establishment’s coverage of her work, which tends to be designated as “chick lit.” Her longstanding feud with Jonathan Franzen, in which she took exception to his criticism of Oprah’s Book Club, is particularly notorious. But now she’s mad at Oprah’s Book Club, so maybe they’ll patch things up.
Weiner’s new book HUNGRY HEART is her first collection of personal essays, and according to Weiner it has many surface resemblances to Doyle’s book. In a long Facebook post on Saturday, Weiner explained and apologized for a different “petty” post she’d made about Doyle’s success that she had since deleted, which I wish very much I could read! She writes:
I have taken down that post about not being an Oprah pick because it was petty and unkind and I should know better.
I still feel like crap on a cracker, though (as well as being so jealous that I can’t see straight). And you guys, my dear readers, should know what’s going on.
Weiner says she recently had a film deal fall through, and was left feeling let down by the people who were supposed to support her through the process. She also says that her publicist tried very hard to get HUNGRY HEART covered by O Magazine, to no avail. When Doyle’s book was announced, she momentarily hoped they were describing her memoir:
Then I find out that Oprah’s chosen a memoir about marriage and motherhood as her new book pick. “It’s funny!” (OhmyGod). “It’s frank!” (OHMYGOD). “It’s brave, and it goes to the dark places every woman’s been!” (OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD). Maybe the magazine didn’t cover my book because Oprah’s going to pick it! Maybe God shut that window because She’s going to open the BEST DOOR EVER.
And then — ha! — it’s someone else’s book.
Yes, I have my own career, and my own path, and my own purpose. I know who I am and I know who I am here for. I know that the universe provides an abundance of favor and love, and there’s enough for all of us, and we shouldn’t tear each other down when we don’t get what we want, and there are better things ahead.
Her post doesn’t stop there. Weiner was caught in the grips of something many of us experience when we see the success of someone who seems so like us, yet they’re getting everything we want. She says:
And I’m proud of where I am, and proud that I got here not because some big-deal critic told the world to read my books, or some talk-show host anointed me, but because my books connected with readers.
But I am not going to lie and tell you that I haven’t been really sad about this....or that there isn’t a voice in my head (a small, sad voice) that sees a slim, blond, traditionally attractive woman getting something great and thinks, Oh, well, of course. Of course that’s why. Nobody wants someone who looks like you in their magazine or on their TV show. It’s crazy and untrue and I’d never let a friend talk to herself that way...but there it is.
If you haven’t seen Glennon Doyle, here she is discussing her book with Oprah:
Weiner wraps it up with some very vulnerable truths about her sense of inferiority, the fact that many people refused to blurb HUNGRY HEART, and more complaints about not being taken seriously enough:
I feel like there’s nowhere I belong in Bookland. I’m not literary enough to be a literary writer, I’m not uplifting enough to be an Oprah writer. I’m not anywhere, and I’m all alone, and nobody’s going to come sit with me.
So there you have it! The truth about how I’m feeling right now.
I’m sorry for being petty and unkind. And tomorrow will be a better day.
While many of us can probably relate to Weiner’s feelings, in whatever area of our life it resonates, she is still an extremely successful white cis female writer. And she’s been complaining about Oprah for a long time:
Which may also have something to do with Oprah not wanting to stand next to her in an interview:
Here’s a scene from In Her Shoes, a movie optioned from one of Weiner’s books, that she should maybe take to heart right now: