By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Close call

The Book Standard recycles its Feb. 15 review of Kaavya Viswanathan’s “How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life,” calling it a “clone” of the film “Mean Girls.” Here’s how it ends:

But the plot … often seems plucked from a teen movie. Once Viswanathan, currently a Harvard sophomore, figures out how to integrate her lively voice into a more original story, she’ll be on her way.

Pretty close, I’d say.

The Harvard Crimson catches up with plagiaree Megan McCafferty, who’s not talking.

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  1. MeTheSheeple

    Plagiaree Megan McCafferty? You misspelled “source of inspiration Megan McCafferty.” Geesh.

  2. Don

    For the last time: Hey, editors, wake up!

  3. neil

    Ann Hulbert does a nice job digging into this story and describing the “broader culture of adult mediated promotion and strategizing” over on Slate. She calls V a “much-mentored superkid, intent on success”. It’s weird to read the recursive layers–it’s a “meta”-story now, in which the story about the making of the story becomes the story. The book is about a girl with too-ambitious parents trying to get her into Harvard, which she finally succeeds at doing but only after showing Harvard what she’s really passionate about. But unlike the character Opel, the real kid, though aware of the process used to create her, seems never to have stepped out of it long enough to get perspective on her situation. Thus as Hilbert says, “if you succeed by packaging, you can expect to fail by packaging too.” Will our glamorous and plucky plagiarista heroine bounce back from this setback? Stay tuned!The sausage-making process of producing teen-lit is a good topic for a book, for somebody like Hulbert, not Viswanathan, who is merely part of the sausage and not the…hmm this metaphor isn’t going anywhere. Quick, edit! Mom! I wonder how another writer might have handled this…I’ll just have a quick look…

  4. Specks

    “Just a day after saying it would not withdraw “How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life” from bookstores, Little, Brown, the publisher of the novel whose author, Kaavya Viswanathan, confessed to copying passages from another writer’s books, said it would immediately recall all editions from store shelves,” reports today’s NY Times.Perhaps a retitle is in order.

  5. Anonymous

    One thing none of the columnists pundits reporters in Nord America have commented about and WHY NOT? is the tremendous INTEREST in this subject and story in the media and online sites of INDIA. Yes, India is zeroing in this Hahvud story with notable interest, since one of their own, an INDIAN WOMAN, altho she left when she was just 3 years old, has become the center of attention b/cause of this story.GOOGLE a bit, Dan , and you see over 36 media sites in INDIA talking about the book , both before it became controversial, when they were proud of her and her huge advance, and even now, later, when she has been shown to be the victim of book mongering, and now the articles in INDIA are critical of her. Before they were cheering her on. Why this huge interest from INDIA in someone who is an American Citizen 21 times over and hasn’t been back to INDIA since age 3, more or less.?Dan, can you do a post on this subject? Kinda of like the ISraeli media writing reams of columns about Spy Pollard and why he should go free, even though he is American and has no israeli passport. Global world means global stories these days. Why has no one reported on this INDIAN interest in all things Kaavya?

  6. neil

    Re anonymous 7:44 and the huge interest from India:You are so surprised by the reaction from the Indian media that you think it is a story unto itself? You hint at some conspiritorial angle, that investigation might uncover. It seems perfectly natural to me that this story interests the Indian media, regardless of whatever passport Viswanathan happens to carry. But if you suspect otherwise, an ulterior motive on the part of the Indian press, then give an intrepid reporter a hint. Is the concern disproportionate because it strikes too close to home? Is there an unspoken tradition of plagiarism that too many Indian media elites owe their success to? Is this the tip of an iceberg of plagiarism in the subcontinent? Isn’t it too warm for such a metaphor?On second thought don’t give us a hint–speculation is more entertaining.

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