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Earlier this year I followed with interest the vast amount of initial positive press surrounding the publication in the latest entry in the ill-named field of “chick lit" penned by this brainy Harvard teen lass Kaava Visanathan.
Her coming of age tale, How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild And Got A Life was the result of early writing and slick packaging that initially resulted in a sophomore getting a disproportional amount of publicity as well as a half million dollars.
The current ruckus is of much greater magnitude than the original laudatory ink this well packaged deal generated. I could not begin to read any of Google with sometimes upwards of six lengthy paper articles clipped from the past week’s press in front of me.
I’ve just finished James Frey’s confessional opus, A Million Little Pieces, which has come under fire for exaggerating the details to enhance the tale. I dunno. I found it to be an interestingly crafted tale that stands by itself and, for me, worked. I’m also into the second of Dan Brown’s DaVinci-like books with this Harvard prof character he seems to be developing.
Although I don’t write fiction, I do read the stuff and, by luck of the draw, have read several things that have come under the plagiarism scanner. Remember, it's illegal, and to quote our Great Decider George W. Bush, “You can run but you can’t hide.” If a writer “borrows,” somewhere, someone will have read the original and connect the dots.
Personally, I used an anecdote twice in essays appearing on the editorial pages of the Times Of India. Out of left field my editor had me bring down copies of all that I had written, as some eagle-eyed Timesman had spotted the item in question, to check for more "lifts." In a word, it’s embarrassing.
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