Media pundits, observers, literati and other assorted hangers-on are having their latest tizzie over the newest plagiarism scandal that has a 22-year old Harvard student accused (and admitting to) "borrowing" some things from another's book. Her name is Kaavya Viswanathan's and she’s been accused of sounding a little too much like Megan McCafferty, who doesn’t look terribly old herself.
Here’s my take. People like James Frey (he of Oprah befuddlement) and Ms Viswanathan have nothing to say, nor have the background or experiences to say it. Frey invented most of his, and Viswanathan is f-----g 22 years old. I don’t know a 22 year old that has anything of great social import to say. Admittedly she writes for teenage girls, but - being from the right school - it's only a matter of time untril she gets a book contract to write her interpretation of the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire or somesuch. Throw in the ridiculous amounts of money celebrities (but they're writers! My ass.) get for not writing their own books and you get a literary situation that will cause the demise of the printed book. It won't be the computer that does it, it'll be unbridled fawning, the stupidity of the American public and the inflated egos of people whose sole jobs is to memorize others words and emote others' actions.
As for McCafferty, one of her books is called “Sloppy Firsts” and is aimed at teenage girls. I don’t much care what the book is about, but “sloppy seconds” has ALWAYS been one of the crudest and rudest ways of describing the sex act with a particular woman. It means one of two things: you were either the second person to have sex with the girl or second in line at a gang bang. Naming a book for teenaged girls “Sloppy Firsts” strikes me as expressing typical liberal arrogance towards the rest of the world. But, hey, a buck’s a buck.
McCafferty has refused Viswanathans apology, by the way, taking the moral high ground, so to speak.
Ah, whatever happened to the days when writers wrote from life’s experience and had something to say to all of us? Pretty soon we'll just have to copy the classics and put other people's names on them.