Wednesday, May 31, 2006

As Advertised: Goldie Reads Chick-Lit On a Dare

I sometimes do strange things to myself.

For example, a few weeks ago, I saw a discussion on Michele's (yes... again!) about the recent plagiarism debacle. Here's what it’s all about:

U.S. publisher Random House on Tuesday accused a Harvard student of "literary identity theft" in the debut novel that turned the teenage author into a literary sensation.

Indian-born Kaavya Viswanathan, 19, has acknowledged unintentionally imitating passages from two novels by author Megan McCafferty -- "Sloppy Firsts" and -- "Second Helpings." Viswanathan has promised to amend future editions of her novel, which is on The New York Times bestseller list.

McCafferty's publisher said more than 40 passages in Viswanathan's debut book, "How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life", contain either identical language or common scene and dialogue structure to the two McCafferty's works. "This extensive taking from Ms McCafferty's books is nothing less than an act of literary theft," said Steve Ross, senior vice president of Crown Publishing Group, a unit of Random House which published McCafferty's works.

Everyone else expressed their opinion and went on their merry way, forgetting all about this particular news piece. I, on the other hand, made the following promise in the comments section:

I'll dedicate my summer to reading all three [books] (I just bought a nice wicker swing to do that in!) Then I'll come to my blog and tell you what I've found. Because I'm really curious by now.

With that, I embarked on my experiment, like I had nothing else to do. My goal was to read all three books in question - "Opal Mehta", "Sloppy Firsts", and "Second Helpings" - and make my own conclusions about what happened here and who was to blame.

The reason I decided to go this inane route was, mainly, numerous comments that went like this:

"I have not read either of the books, but to me it is an open and shut case. This is clearly plagiarism."

"You do not have to read either of the books to know what happened here."

Etc., etc.

What was even worse, I found myself having an opinion of my own, even though I hadn’t read any of the books either. This scared me to an unreal degree. So, I got my hands on all three books, and, trying my best to remain unbiased, entered the wondrous world of chick-lit, and not just any chick-lit, but one of the high-school variety. It was a whole new realm to me, full of romance, stereotypes and the color pink, as well as, inexplicably, multiple occurrences of the word "vagina". I had never encountered anything like this before... ah, who am I kidding? I've read a book or three. But this time, it was serious. I could not quit; and, I had to come back with an informed decision - who stole from whom and which book, if any, does not suck?

Will Goldie survive her harrowing journey into the high-school romance world? Stay tuned...

The Goldie has spoken at 10:10 PM

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