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The Oprah Winfrey Book Club Vetting Process

12/31/2008 10:23 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

A friend who works at Harpo Productions sent me the following transcript of a rigorous interview between one of Oprah Winfrey's Vetting Technicians (OWVT) and the author of a potential Book Club selection:


OWVT: Your name, please.

Author: Margaret Hibernium Coulat.

OWVT: Title of your book.

Margaret Hibernium Coulat: Shadows and Honey: One Woman's True-Life Inspirational Search for Inspiration.

OWVT: Describe your book.

Margaret Hibernium Coulat: It is the recounting of my life-long journey of hardship, joy, suffering, inspiration and joy, from hardscrabble childhood to my current womanly adulthood, told in simple, dewy prose which audiences of all ages will cleave to their collective bosoms.

OWVT: And everything in the book is true.

Margaret Hibernium Coulat: Absolutely.

OWVT: Cross your heart?

Margaret Hibernium Coulat: Yes and yes.

OWVT: What about the part in Chapter Seven, "My Body Soars, My Spirit Falters," in which you describe giving virgin birth and flying across the Atlantic Ocean without the benefit of an airplane or similar mechanical craft?

Margaret Hibernium Coulat: Um, excuse me? Were you there? Did you see me not give virgin birth or not fly across the Atlantic Ocean?

OWVT: You got me there.

Margaret Hibernium Coulat: Score!

OWVT: But what about this section where you claim to have brokered a long-lasting peace between Israel and Hamas?

Margaret Hibernium Coulat: How does one define peace? By not firing rockets into another person's territory? By not honoring a cease-fire? Or by illuminating the peace within us which is, of course, the most difficult peace to maintain or even find?

OWVT: Pages 157 through 186 are completely blank.

Margaret Hibernium Coulat: The better to let a reader imprint his or her own thoughts onto the pages and see those thoughts--really, really SEE them--as if for the first time. As if...

(Ms. Coulat cries)

Margaret Hibernium Coulat: Excuse me--I was just thinking about the time I left my hometown of Titusville, Florida for the first time.

OWVT: According to the book, you grew up in Shaker Heights.

Margaret Hibernium Coulat: Right. Whatever.

OWVT: How old are you?

Margaret Hibernium Coulat: Forty-one.

OWVT: And yet in Chapter Twelve, "Apple Butter and Wool Sheets," you insist that you were present at Appomattox Courthouse and witnessed Robert E. Lee not only surrender to Ulysses S. Grant but then attempt to rape you.

Margaret Hibernium Coulat: Yes.

OWVT: Do you mean that you were present at Appomattox Courthouse in a spiritual sense or, perhaps, in some kind of past life?

Margaret Hibernium Coulat: I don't understand the question.

OWVT: How old are you?

Margaret Hibernium Coulat: Thirty-six.

OWVT: Congratulations--you're Oprah Winfrey's next Book Club selection!

Margaret Hibernium Coulat: Yay! David Fincher can direct the film adaptation!