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Who Is Robert Bonomo And Why Is He Trying to Game Oprah?

robert-bonomo.jpgSome time this morning, while searching for posts about Oprah Winfrey‘s book club selections (you know she’s making a new one this Friday?), we found an article claiming that Eckhart Tolle and David Wroblewski, the last two authors picked for the club, were both endorsing the same “underground” novel: Robert Bonomo‘s Cactus Land. (“Underground” in this context defined as “self-published through CreateSpace.”) “Never before have past winners weighed in on future selections, not to mention two from the same year both pulling for the same book,” the article—which of course turns out to be a press release—says breathlessly. Well, we’d not heard anything about Tolle and Wroblewski offering their opinions one way or the other, but we figured, okay, we might’ve missed it, let’s go back to Google and see what turns up, starting with Bonomo’s blog.

So: This morning, the same PR agency that issued that first release is now claiming Oprah is “miffed” at Tolle for trying to influence her decision-making process, going so far as to describe an official statement from Winfrey indiciating she’s read Cactus Land. Then we turned up an article, purportedly written by Wroblewski himself, about how being Oprah’s favorite author can change your life, with this zinger of an ending: “I secretly hope that Robert Bonomo’s debut novel, Cactus Land gets the nod. He so reminds me of myself a year ago. But whoever wins, I am sure it will be a wonderful read.”

Wroblewski is touring in Europe, so we haven’t heard back from him yet, but sources at Ecco agreed with us that this “article” was very weird and didn’t feel like it was even in his writing voice.

As if those two endorsements weren’t enough, Ken Wilber tells Bonomo, “I read your novel… and was very moved by it.” All this for a novel about, according to an earlier press release, “a modern world plagued by terrorism, rumors of war and so much propaganda/publicity/newstainment that nobody is quite sure what is real, was is manipulation and what is truly happening.” Oh, the irony: The one other “media mention” we’ve found so far is an interview with the San Francisco Literary Monthly posted on Bonomo’s blog—when Google turns up nothing else for a publication by that name or any literary context for the name of the interviewer, Parker Voll.

Well, at least Bonomo’s not actually claiming to have made it onto Oprah, the way another self-published author did two years ago.

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