Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Canceled Book Deal: Plagarism

A 19-year old Harvard student's 2-book deal with Little, Brown, and Co. has been canceled because, in short, she plagarized.

I remember being an aspiring 17-year old (the same age as Kaavya Viswanathan when she signed the book deal), and I remember my English teacher, Miss Logan, preaching fire and brimstone about plagarizing. Well instilled with the fear of plagarism, she sent me into the world to respect written words and give due respect to their author. So to that end, I cannot stand in this young woman's shoes without getting corns on my feet.

The article quoted two passages, one from Miss Viswanathan's book and one from a similar passage in "The Princess Diaries". At this time, instead of allowing her to rewrite the questionable passages, Little, Brown, and Co. is simply pulling her deal.

So while I cannot condone intentional plagarism, where is her opportunity to explain, apologize, and set right her wrongs? According to the article she had not returned calls as of Tuesday, so any word from Miss Viswanathan is still forthcoming.

I, for one, have read quite a few books in my day, and can no longer identify any specific authors or their works in my writing, but that is not to say that someone else couldn't. Nor does it mean that I wouldn't write something particularly similar to a piece of fiction that I've never even heard of before, let alone read (they do exist!)

My heart hopes - for her and the whole industry - that this is some gross mistake, while my head knows from reading the evidence presented that this is a horrendous act of "borrowing" (at best), something I am intimately ferocious about, having been a victim of plagarism myself. But that's another story.

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