April 26, 2010 12:00 PM

>• The Queen of Talk gets the dreaded “Kitty Litter” treatment in a new unauthorized biography by celeb demythologizer Kitty Kelley. Is it worth reading?

She took on Elizabeth Taylor, Nancy Reagan and the Bush family; now Kitty Kelley has turned her salacious eye on Oprah. The result? A compulsively readable book, but one filled with rumor, innuendo and less-than-stunning revelations. On Oprah‘s childhood: She wasn’t as poor as she’s claimed. On her history with men: She was a promiscuous teen and once dated musician John Tesh. As for the big question—who she’s really dating, fiancé Stedman Graham or best pal Gayle King—Kelley’s take is that Oprah is “asexual.”

What’s most shocking here isn’t what’s said but who says it. It’s Vernon Winfrey, the man who raised Oprah, who tells Kelley his daughter “may be admired by the world, but I know the truth” and calls King a “street heifer.” With kin like that, who needs enemies?

Kelley has said that Barbara Walters, Larry King and others have refused to interview her for fear of offending her book’s subject. If true, it hasn’t hurt sales: Oprah rocketed to the top of Amazon’s bestseller list. In Kelley’s practiced hands, the beloved mogul’s rags-to-riches saga is undeniably a page-turner. Too bad there’s little of the exuberance and wit that made Oprah the phenomenon she is.

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