The publishing world is in a tizzy over rising novelist's Kaavya Viswanathan's admission that she unintentionally copied passages from books by Megan McCafferty in order to write, How Opal Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life, about an ambitious NJ teen who wants to get into Harvard. Viswanathan, just featured earlier in a rather glowing NY Times article about being a Harvard student with a $500,000 two-book deal at Little, Brown, was exposed by the Harvard Crimson over the weekend, and has now had to 'fess up. (Hats off to Harvard Crimson writer David Zhou for reading all three books over the weekend - check out examples of the similar passages, but really, hats off to the reader's tip-off started this.) McCafferty, a Columbia alum, whose two books about a smart NJ teen named Jessica Darling "inspired" Viswanathan to "internalize" prose, Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings, Gothamist has read and enjoyed, just hopes that that an agreement can be reached; no word on whether Viswanathan's admission and the fact that Little, Brown will not only remove/edit the similar passages but also acknowledge McCafferty is good enough (we're thinking there may have to be a payday). The Columbia Spectator weighs in and while it doesn't break any news, it has definitely found a great quote:
“I have read the McCafferty books and they are in that vein of unavoidable, awesomely bad, Y.A. chick lit that one usually ends up burning through on an idle Sunday evening or ten. They are good. But they are not worth plagiarizing,” Jennifer Bernstein, CC ’09, said. “Thank you, Harvard sophomore Kaavya Viswanathan, for this moment of pure schadenfreude.”
Exactly - everyone needs a bit of schadenfreude to get through the day, but if we find out that Dr. Seuss didn't write and illustrate his books, we're going to be very, very angry.
Gothamist has been reading the latest McCafferty book about Jessica Darling, Charmed Thirds, which chronicles Jessica's experiences at Columbia (hello, Furnald!), interning at a magazine in Williamsburg, and trying to find love. It's better than awesomely bad in our estimation (good for when we should be spring cleaning), but it's no JT Leroy or James Frey either. And McCafferty was interviewed by the Spectator last week.