As summer turns to fall and annoying children are removed from the streets and properly corralled into their educational stables, we turn our thoughts to those storied Ivy institutions where said beastchildren will inevitably enroll. So, Harvard — 'sup with junior Kaavya Viswanathan? After her overhyped debut, How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life was revealed to contain quite a few instances of shameless plagiarism, she left campus and spent her summer interning for 85 Broads, an organization that sent her to Africa where no one knew of her shame. But now it's back to school for Kaavya — how's life back on campus? Is she keeping busy? From Harvard Magazine:
For the launch of its website on Wednesday, Radar published an exclusive about Fake Writer James Frey: rather than face a potentially pricey class-action lawsuit from Frey's emotionally wounded readers, Random House would offer a refund only to those who have a dated receipt from their original purchase of the book (so they'd probably have to pay off maybe three people, two of whom have been saving receipts since the Depression).
You're a fraud, and a liar. And a wincingly pretentious writer. You couldn't tie Siegel's shoelaces.
As mentioned last week, Fake Writer James Frey continues his slow return to the written word by penning a quick piece about his favorite NFL team for our sporty sibling site Deadspin. Frey's writing (which kind of sucks without the tales of excessive vomiting) is hollow; it suggests that he is now but a shell of a man, broken and beaten into monosyllabic timorousness. No doubt Frey carefully choose his words so as to avoid any sort of dramatic embellishment, but we've gone ahead and done some fact-checking. An excerpt from his Deadspin debut, complete with our notes:
It's a special time for Fake Writer James Frey. After admitting to fabricating several parts of his rehab memoir and getting flogged by national ringleader Oprah Winfrey, the faux-memoirist has been laying understandably low: hiding out in Europe, sulking around the East End, and cycling around lower Manhattan with a perma-scowl on his face. But perhaps things are looking up for our anti-hero: New York reported this week that Frey has a piece of (intentional) fiction published in the catalogue for photographer Malerie Marder's fall show at Greenberg Van Doren gallery, and today WWD reveals that BlackBook has commissioned Frey for a considerably more risky article in its November issue, a piece about photographer Alex Soth, who shot Maggie Gyllenhaal for the cover.
In the continuing theme of Fake Writer Day, this one's a stretch: certain passages in Daniel J. Boorstein's high school history textbook A History of the United States are identical to those in another textbook, America: Pathways to the Present, which was written by multiple authors. The catch is, the big names on the books' spines aren't necessarily responsible for everything in the text, as textbooks, with their constantly changing editions, are mostly written by a slew of uncredited writers. So while Boorstein and the big names from Pathways likely did not plagiarize, there are writers beneath them who may very well have lifted passages or "internalized" words from other texts. If a hip teen packaging company were involved, it might not be that unlike the case of Kaavya Viswanathan. And if those 1000-page textbooks were used for anything more than a doorstop, this all might matter.
• Star fucking Jones, what are we going to do with you? She's forced off The View, then does a surprise, on-air resignation, then tells People magazine that she was betrayed. Barbara Walters locks her out, and now we're subjected to an endless round of interviews featuring Jones passive-aggressively reflecting on the whole thing. And scene.
• Oh, you best believe Radar is alive and kicking and hiring. Lots of hiring.
• Harper's Bazaar allows Britney Spears to take her clothes off; to make matters worse, the mag forces her nudie pics upon our innocent eyes.
• LA Weekly scribe Nikki Finke is SO NOT INSANE.
• Stephen Colbert and Chris Matthews share their intensely physical manlove with the world.
• It's Devil Wears Prada madness; Anna Wintour will be played by Victoria Principal.
• The Bonnie Fuller backlash never goes out of style.
• Here's the thing with our boy Anderson Cooper: everyone loves him. And yet nobody watches him.
• Charlie Gibson leaves morning television, thus forcing us to watch Good Morning America.
• Another Fake Writer, this time at the Post. Which really isn't that surprising or interesting, come to think of it.
• Harper Lee comes out of hiding, all for the love of Oprah. Really, there's nothing the woman can't do.
Kaavya Viswanathan, the Harvard sophomore who was caught plagiarizing her highly-publicized, studio-optioned debut novel, has wisely disappeared into relative obscurity since her little kerfuffle. But just because she destroyed her "writing" career and can no longer make a dime on her name doesn't mean that someone can't make a profit off of the whole thing:
A&E got nostalgic this weekend, rerunning the episode of Breakfast With the Arts from the halcyon days when Harvard sophomore Kaavya Viswanathan was not yet known as an uber-plagiarizer. The episode was done in two parts, the first featuring Kaavya reading from Opal Mehta (taped pre-scandal, of course) and then giving an interview; the second, an update on the story with the Observer's Sheelah Kolhatkar.
The Morning News has finally picked a winner in their Sloppy Seconds With Opal Mehta contest. Inspired by the multi-sourced plagiasm of Kaavya Viswanathan, TMN put it to readers to create an "original" piece plagiarized from no less than 5 works. The winner is Virginian Bonnie Furlong, who plagiarized a whopping 79 different passages for her story — and, in turn, served Kaavya her weak ass on a plate.
It must be an incredibly slow day around the Associated Press: they're reporting that James Frey's second book, My Friend Leonard, is sprinkled with bullshit. Considering that the plot of Leonard picks up where Frey's first book, the heavily fabricated A Million Little Pieces, left off, this should surprise approximately no one.
Smoking Gun editor Bill Bastone was on the Colbert Report last night, explaining the wonders of document retrieval and the information superhighway. When asked what was the biggest story they had ever broken, Bastone obviously said James Frey, whose Oprah-endorsed bestselling memoir contained several fabrications. Colbert referred to it as "the Oprah book":
• NB to Scarlett Johansson: You're ours, bitch. You're just pretty property of the paparazzi. If you continue to fight it, you'll only continue to embarrass yourself. [Gilded Moose]
• Uh, breaking? Britney Spears did not have a press conference today to address pregnancy rumors. So, you know, back to rampant and unfounded speculation. [BlogNYC]
• One man dared to follow Tom Cruise all over town yesterday. That man is to be respected, but only from afar. Get too close, and he seems kind of scary. [Confessions of a Celebrity Stalker]
• Now that Mexico has legalized marijuana, cocaine, and heroin, you'll have a much easier time deciding on a vacation locale. [NY Sun]
• When it comes to Kaavya Viswanathan satire, Forbes' Karl Shmavonian gives Mediabistro's Laurel Touby a run for her money. [Forbes]
• Our dark master emerges from his gilded loft! Oh, the sunlight, how it stings! [Blogebrity]
• In the Times' write-up of the Costume Institute Gala, there's but one line you need to read to understand it all: "'Can you believe they're giving us pies?' a British model said when a lamb pie was put in front of her." [NYT]
• Herve Villachez, just because we feel like it. [Pimpadelic Wonderland via Vidiot]
• OH MY GOD IT'S SO FUCKING AMAZING OH YEAH TOM CRUISE! You, too, can experience the joy of Tom, by watching the live webcast of him walking into the movie theater at 7pm. [Yahoo]
• An ad agency sues a blogger for defamation. Sigh. [AdAge]
• We don't know how we missed the photos of Diane Von Furstenburg at Monday night's Costume Institute Ball, but we're really glad that we did. [Papierblog]
• Back when New York was listing its 123 reasons to love New York, they included a group of bright young things and predicted that at least one of them would be famous by 2010. Kaavya Viswanathan was in said group. How prescient. [NYM]
• In additional Kaavya digs, we're enjoying her July 2005 Times piece on her love of Harry Potter books. Has anyone thought to compare those texts to Opal Mehta? [NYT]
• People magazine keeps their racism subtle. [Jen Is Famous]
• Bonnie Fuller poses for the cover of Lifestyles magazine. And for the record, her face is frozen like that. [FishbowlNY]
• But at least the Bonnster's Toronto book party gave bloggers the chance to gorge themselves on chocolate-covered strawberries and mini-bruschetta. There's never too much when it comes to finger food! [OMG Blog]
In today's Observer, Sheelah Kolhatkar goes spelunking about Alloy, the book packaging company responsible for Kaavya Viswanathan's impressively plagiarized debut novel. Aside from developing ideas in-house and then not allowing their originators to write the resulting books, Alloy books are often written by multiple ghostwriters. In the case of Opal Mehta, a multi-author approach would explain why the thing seems to be cribbed from some 32 different sources.