The Write Stuff

April 30, 2006 at 2:23 am (Uncategorized)

A 18-year old Harvard student with a book deal worth a half million dollars is accused of plagiarizing another author and chaos ensues. Her book isHemingway.jpg yanked from the shelves and the blame game begins. Upon closer scrutiny, it becomes clear that the young lady is more of a prefabricated celebrity than a bonafide author. Her publisher and a powerful literary agent have arranged for her to pen a story they hoped would become a teen sensation and lead to a whole series of money makers. She was to be sort of the literary equivalent of Britney Spears without the dumbass husband, I guess you could say.

It's hard to decide if we should feel sorry for this once rising star. I mean, most of us would be willing to work our asses off and produce something completely original if someone were to dangle a $500,000 carrot in front of our noses. But then, most of us aren't teenage college students working under that kind of social and economic pressure.

poe.jpgAnd there's always the possibility that Kaavya Vishwanathan (pronounced just like it's spelled) will survive the fallout and thrive on the name recognition. Sometimes the paradigm "there's no such thing as bad advertising" is absolutely true. Nothing sells like a scandal. And now, people who have never heard of Vishwanathan may be racing to the bookstores just to pick up a copy of her book and see what the wailing is all about. At any rate, it's ugly. And this on the heels of the James Frey, "I had a few too many wine coolers in my day, but let me tell the damn story my own way, will you?" fiasco.

What is it with reporters and authors these days? It's been one scandal jack_london.jpg after another and now there's giant mistrust for anyone who makes a career out of the written word. Back in the good old days, writers were accused of hard drinking and womanizing, but that was okay, because they were tortured artists, goddamit. Writers drank, got into bar fights and occasionally traveled to Africa to shoot big game and affirm their manhood. Now it's just lies and damned lies and there isn't even that much boozing and hound dogging going on.

I think it's clear that, in order to produce an upsurge in sales of my novel, I need a really hot scandal. I'd be happy to do the hard drinking thing, but it's been done to death. No, I need something with perversion Chiamark.jpgand lies and cover-ups and a 300 pound baboon named Charlene and a dentist chair and a Chia Pet. Not that I've given this any thought. I welcome your ideas.

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76 Comments

  1. Steven G. Erickson said,

    Today’s good writers are lost in the vast sea of bloggers.

  2. LaFlamme said,

    You may have a point there, S.E. But then, what do I know? I chronically have my head up my blog.

  3. Linda said,

    I’m not convinced that giving it away on a blog hurts a writer’s prospects. If you have the energy for both, the exposure of a blog has to help.
    You may be approaching the issue too — well — frontally. A scandal drawing attention to the blog would bring more people into your orbit, expose them to your, how can i say it, quirky talent. They’d probably stampede for your book, and not be sorry.
    That’s why I read it. I found your SJ blog just as the flamethrowers started incinerating everything, and after laughing myself sick three days in a row, I said, this man’s a maniac, gotta read that book.

  4. K2 said,

    The Importance of Being Ernest Hemingway On the Road with Kerouac ’cause he’s too Poe?

  5. Bobbie said,

    After looking at the Chia Pet hairdo, we have definitely got to chip in and buy you some PhotoShop lessons. Some days, you do ok, but most days, you have some major issues going. Or is it just because you’re in your third trimester and have gotten to the “I don’t give a shit, I just want it over with” stage?

  6. jarheaddoc said,

    Mark, it is almost always easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to secure permission. The whole idea of working for something went right out the window back when old FDR created the New Deal and the government started to get too intrusive into our daily lives. We have entirely no shame these days. The media is focused on the sensational stuff because that’s what people use as their escape from the everyday hassles of their lives. Isn’t that the category that this, or any other, blog fits into? Everyone in America is trying to find his or her own niche and they’re willing to do it however they can, at whatever cost they can. You were willing to show yourself very close to birthing and having a Chia pet haircut. Or is that just humility from someone trying to express himself and get everyone to buy his book? I will end this soap box session with a shot at myself: I just haven’t found out what I’m willing to prostitute myself for, in order to have my few fleeting seconds of national exposure. I’m pretty comfortable with myself, and my own pain, at the local level, at least for right now. I’m not sure I have the time to try to capture a larger audience with all the screw ups I make on a daily basis

  7. Mainetarr said,

    There are some very taleneted writers and some journalists that still have time to check the facts before writing a story, but they are few and far between. Jarhead is right in a sense that there is no shame anymore, and even getting them to apologize afterwards takes a lot of effort, ie Dan Rather. People today are desensitized to most things and unless the headlines scream something horrific, no one really pays attention. I have to give Natalie Holloway’s mother a great deal of admiration. If it weren’t for her relentless media campaign, everyone would have forgotten about Natalie in Aruba about a week after she went missing. Beth, her mom, figured out how to use the media to her advantage and keep them interested in her daughters disappearance. It was so sensationalized that Natalie Holloway is a household name. How many other kids go missing but we never hear about it until they are found dead, I wonder? The media is a tool for advertising and really not much more, on a national level. They no longer carry any credibility. Half of the stories are done half-assed, everybody has to be first-not factual. Then there’s the Clinton News Network (CNN) and MSNBC (does anyone even watch that?). FOX news touts to be fair and balanced, but are they always? No, even though I watch them regularly, you have to take them with a grain of salt. I don’t know where it all went south, but it would be nice to be able to sit down and watch the news without having to question the information they are giving me.

  8. jarheaddoc said,

    Holy shit, MT, are you saying that the media is biased and unfair?! Now, come on, these are the people who put stories on of the birth of Tom Cruise’s kid and won’t tell you that there are areas of Iraq where there is little fighting and people are starting to have a decent life? Are you saying that people need to stand up and make their own decisions and research things? Are you saying that Fox Mulder was right, the truth really is out there? My God, you get one more person to agree with both of us and we could start a movement that the government would have to discredit!

  9. jarheaddoc said,

    I would also have to add that the government is very good at giving the media just enough information to distract us from what’s really going on. Anyone ever hear of that Little thing called the Patriot Act, which resulted from the terrorist attacks of 9-11? We got distracted with all this crap of terrorism while the powers that be started to shred the constituiton so they could line their bird cages with it.

  10. Linda said,

    Truth is funny — so often, even the facts exist within a context, subjectively interpreted. Makes a hash out of history if you look at it that way. From whose point of view is it being told? When you hear the U.S. news reported elsewhere in the world — not from a CNN feed but from another country’s news service — you sometimes see the dialectic between different interpretations of fact or truth. Not to say that the other is truer, you understand. Just that there isn’t necessarily always an absolute truth. I’m not sure how many of those there are.
    But people are too lazy for any of that. It’s very time consuming to search for original sources, and i think the more you dig, the greater the tendency to polarize it for yourself.
    Mostly it’s all info-tainment, that’s so much easier.

  11. jarheaddoc said,

    Linda, I couldn’t agree more. Let me run this by you: isn’t this blog a way of expressing views and staying anonymous? You know, I sit here and type for a few seconds, press the send key, then go do something for a few minutes, come back, press another key, and see if anyone answered? And as far as the history comment goes: hhistory is written by the winner. No one sees that Adolf Hitler polarized a defeated Germany into a first class wrold power. Granted, what he did with that power afterwards was a pretty shit thing to do. Look at Ho chi Mihn, too. An Army officer named Aaron Banks, who was on assignment to the OSS during Wrold War Two, meant Ho and was told that Ho was going to side with the person who supplied him the guns to free his country. All Ho really wanted was a reunited Vietnam with no outside interference. The US government didn’t believe Colonel Banks, but it also didn’t want to interfere in the colonial affairs of France, as America was doing its own colonial thing at the time. History now tells that the whole Vietnam thing was to kick the commies out of southeast asia, but a little research of the facts, and you get a very different story.

  12. jarheaddoc said,

    And I should add that the OSS, the Office of Strategic Services, was the precursor of the Central Intelligence Agency. You look at it from that angle, and it’s easy to see that some things never change: the boys who deal with the information, which is power, don’t want to give that information up, and when the truth is finally discovered, fingers are pointed, perspectives are developed and defended, and the public is still left wondering just what the hell happened. But the government is here to help you, and the IRS really does want you to take every deduction you’re entitled to

  13. Gil said,

    Um, what?
    jarheadoc, you seriously need to try some decaf, or find out who Rush’s latest pharmacist is. Hitler was a great guy and a wonderful leader, but he misused his power? Ho Chi Minh was simply misunderstood? Are you serious? Do you have any clue about what the fuck you are talking about? Good guy Adolph is responsible for the deaths of over 6 million Jews, millions of “undesirables” (homosexuals, gypsies, etc), not to mention the hundredes of thousands of Allied and German soldiers, millions of soldiers in Russia, and civilian deaths in France, Poland, Britain and Russia.
    Do you have any recollection of Southeast Asia history after we pulled out? The North Vietnamese, under poor misunderstood Ho, slaughtered hundreds of thousands of South Vietnames and plunged their world into decades of darkness. The Cambodians under the Khmer Rouge was reesponsible for the deaths of almpst 2/3 of the Cambodian population.
    Misused power and misunderstood communist dictators? You sir, are the definitionof a walking, talking ASSHAT!

  14. Linda said,

    Did any of you ever hear the U.S. Revolutionary War referred to by a Brit as “the rebellion”?

    Gil, I read Jarhead’s post a couple of times and I can’t see that he said Hitler was a great guy and a wonderful leader. He “polarized a defeated Germany into a first class world power”. Even the first time through, I didn’t see that statement as implying any admiration or praise. I mean, that IS what Hitler did, isn’t it?

  15. Linda said,

    And another thing Jarhead, I guess for a lot of people, blogging IS about expressing their views anonymously. That’s not my reason. I discuss my views with people I actually know, people whose input I have reason to value, etc., and who I believe will care what I have to say. You may notice that i usually pass on politics and so on. I’m interested to read what you all say, and I may or may not agree, but I’ll usually pass.

    I’m just here for the parties, really, and for the hot tub and wine bar. ūüôā

  16. Gil said,

    Linda, it’s the tone that the comment was made in. I could care less that Hitler brought Germany out of a depression. It’s what he did afterward that makes him what he is. Ted Bundy volunteered on a suicide hotline, still a monster. John Gacy provided jobs for youngsters in his construction company, still a monster. To hear someone like Hitler referred to as anything but an evil monstrosity is just BS.

  17. LaFlamme said,

    Ooooh. Good juxtaposition with Hitler and Gacy. I like that.

  18. LaFlamme said,

    And ha! I stumped K2! That second pic is Jack London, not Keroouac. Although… Christ, they DO look alike.
    I was really just looking to throw some notoriously hard drinking writers up there. I mean, it’s not always easy to come up with pics for this friggin’ thing. Plus, London was said to be dreamy (when he was conscious) and so I thought maybe the girls would swoon. Remember how that happened with Morrison? We like when the ladies swoon.

  19. LaFlamme said,

    For the record, the blog has nothing to do with the novel. Sure, I get to put my links up there, but that was really just taking advantage of new technology when we retreated here from the smoking pit at the SJ. If someone asked me in earnest why I blog, I’d have no solid answer for them. It’s just a place to express things I normally wouldn’t state aloud. Or something. Plus, Mainetarr makes me do it. She’s really, really mean, you know.

  20. Linda said,

    Mark, my God, when did you have Morrison up there? CAN’T BELIEVE I missed it! I know we discussed him recently, but when was there a picture???

  21. LaFlamme said,

    It’s been a while, but yeah. The Lizard King has made several appearances. I’m a huge Doors fan. K2 as well, I’m pretty sure, since he managed to quote An American Prayer with seeming ease.

  22. Linda said,

    BTW Mark, I liked the piece by your syllabically better-endowed counterpart, Mark LaFalamme, in the SJ today. He has a keen eye.

  23. LaFlamme said,

    Yeah, that LaFalamme seems to spend a lot of time downtown. One of these days, I’m going to try to find that son-of-a-bitch.

  24. LaFlamme said,

    Holy crap, the Sox are gonna come back in the ninth.

  25. Anonymous said,

    Fingers crossed

  26. Linda said,

    That was me, as usual. Well, they couldn’t do it today. Maybe tomorrow.

  27. AO said,

    Ya jinxed them. Thanks a lot.

  28. jarheaddoc said,

    Gil, you have seriously missed the context of what I said. For some, Hitler and Ho chi Minh were great people because they united a people. I know what happened afterwards, and the spin doctors of the day found some way to give us peace with honor. One part of being able to see the entire picture is to be able to see the views of other people, and I think that you need to go see your optometrist for a change in you eye glasses: look up myopic in the dictionary and you’ll see a picture of yourself, I’m sure.

  29. AO said,

    What a lovely day. Been outside, on the deck. Took out my furniture, did some yard work, had a cook out. Lovely. And, tomorrow night I get to go see Larry The Cable Guy with my son.

  30. jarheaddoc said,

    Gil, I found a reference for you. a quote actually: “Every man has 20/20 vision through his asshole.” Gen. Carl Steiner, US Army, Retired. Here’s lookin’ at you, Gil. PFFFT!

  31. Stiff Competition said,

  32. Bobbie said,

    Posted By: Jean at April 30, 2006 06:48 PM (Suggest Removal)
    I hope you reconsider, Brenda, because you’re playing right into the terrorist, er… right wing facist Republican hands. They fervently hope that by making outlandish claims, bullying and repeatedly harping on the same mantra, they’ll wear down all opposition. I know it’s hard to deal with these racist b***ards, but our ideals are more important than their petty little minds. If they win then the true terrorist will be the victors

    Does this sound vaguely familiar to anyone?

  33. K2 said,

    Jack London, huh? Cripes, I wasn’t sure. My ‘Call of the Wild’ was not heard by my own societally tempered conscious. Damn. You just like saying the word ‘KlonDIKE,’ that’s all.

  34. K2 said,

    And man, does, Jon Krakouer (sp?) hammer London in ‘Into the Wild.’ I believe he calls London a ‘fatuous drunk.’

  35. jarheaddoc said,

    Bobbie, I missed your reference somewhere. I don’t see a post by Brenda for this date for 1848 hrs.

  36. brenda said,

    I understand it exactly. Thank you Bobbie.
    Jean is right, and I had thought of that before, but sometimes it gets depressing. I have to believe that anything I have to say is going to make a difference, or I’m just wasting my energy. I was thinking that it’s self-defeating to engage bullies. But walking away may give them free reign of the playground, Jean is right. And someone has to stand up. I just wish I could get some back-up for me & Jean, (as I wished I had for me & dan) on the liberal side of the issues. I was thinking, maybe the sunjournal is just going to BE a right-leaning blog. So I wanted to let Jean know.
    I have goe & talked to friends who are activists, and they know what’s been going on with the sj blogs but they don’t find it worth bothering to join the discussion., Maybe they know something.

    I was planning on quitting the blogs, but I just sneaked back in here for a peek. Pretty interesting, actually.
    makes my wanna open my “Beat Readers” book on the shelf over there…..

  37. Blumpkin said,

    Cuckoo, Cuckoo…..

  38. Linda said,

    Evening folks. I just had dinner with friends and — what are the odds? they served exactly the same wine i was enjoying last night. I took it as a sign. Not sure of what but … I lost the thread of the SJ discussion and the excerpts here haven’t made it any clearer to me. So I guess this is goodbye until later or tomorrow or when my wits sharpen up, whenever.

  39. Sweetness Aka WP said,

    I agree…… Cuckoo, Cuckoo‚Ķ..

    Check out the Stiff Competition #31

  40. Bobbie said,

    Jarhead,
    This came from Our View, can’t remember exactly where right now. I hate to disappoint Brenda, but I didn’t post that on her behalf. I posted it because of the reference to “playing right into the terrorist, er, right wing fascist Republican hands.”

    It’s a phrase, term or whatever else you want to call it that someone else used to use on a regular basis. Another clue to someone’s real identity, perhaps?

  41. Linda said,

    Bobbie, did you read my post on Carnival? It’s just a theory, but what do you think?

  42. Bobbie said,

    Yes, I did. Someone can’t seem to keep their story straight, nor refrain from reverting back to previous habits. Eventually, the truth will come out.

  43. Linda said,

    Well I guess that settles that….

  44. Bobbie said,

    It would seem so.

  45. jarheaddoc said,

    Okay, you’re confusing me even more with your repsonse, Bobbie. I know there is that whole Dan/Jean thing. Is that what you mean?

  46. Bobbie said,

    That’s exactly what I mean. Sorry for the confusion tonight.

  47. jarheaddoc said,

    NO problem. Hey, you spent time in Germany, did you read that post I gobbed off about on Hitler polarizing the country? Gil seems to think that I’m glorifiying jack booted thugs

  48. Bobbie said,

    I read it. Gil’s just being Gil. You either like him or you hate him.

  49. jarheaddoc said,

    I seem to have stuck a thorn into his ass by being just as opinionated as he is

  50. Bobbie said,

    I can see why that would happen between the 2 of you! LOL

  51. jarheaddoc said,

    genetics. That’s something you would understand

  52. jarheaddoc said,

    Gotta go. My weekend is over and it’s back to the grind of an ungrateful public. Oh, the life of an overworked, underpaid civil servant being oppressed by the man!

  53. Bobbie said,

    I kind of gathered that I would understand the genetics thing. Try not to have too much fun working tonight.

  54. Bobbie said,

    Anyone else out there tonight or is everyone getting ready for tomorrow? I guess I’m calling it a night as well.

  55. Gil said,

    Just one last jarheaddoc
    “For some, Hitler and Ho chi Minh were great people because they united a people”
    How the hell did i misunderstand that. I must be myopic.
    “I know what happened afterwards, and the spin doctors of the day found some way to give us peace with honor.”
    WTF are you talking about?
    “One part of being able to see the entire picture is to be able to see the views of other people”
    Sorry asshat, I refuse to see the view of someone who would call themselves a jarhead and believes that there is a good side to Hitler or Ho Chi Minh. Argue all you want, you make yourself appear to be stupider with each line. I’m not sure how you will defend your position of a good side of evil, but I’m through arguing with you.

  56. LaFlamme said,

    Just getting caught up on the afternoon and evening chatter. It’s all very clear to me but for this one part: what?

  57. Martha said,

    Hi Mark, you still here? sitting in your corner drinking by yourself?
    You mean you’re not running out the door as soon as I come in this morning?

  58. Martha said,

    Okay… a new blog to read… I’ll talk to you over there~~~~~>

  59. LaFlamme said,

    Hey, Martha. Are you really working such weird hours, or are you in a different time zone. That’s it, isn’t it? You’re in Malaysia.

  60. Martha said,

    LOL Mark, no, I really work an odd shift. I start work at 2 a.m. and I’m in the same time zone. I work at AccuWeather, in State College, PA.

  61. LaFlamme said,

    Ahhh, cool. I think I knew that at one time. What’s tomorrow’s forecast? Or is that like a trade secret that can only be shared with the Pentagon?

  62. LaFlamme said,

    Damn, man. I’m trying to say good night, and I don’t know which blog you’re in. It’s like a house of mirrors in here. Here mirrors of house a like it’s. In you’re blog which know don’t I and night, good say to trying I’m. Man, damn.

  63. Martha said,

    HMMM…. let me check….
    Right now in Lewiston it is 36 degrees with a real feel of 41.
    Later today it will be Breezy with clouds and sun.. High of 65 with a real feel of 67.
    Tonight mostly cloudy with a little rain.. low of 42 .. real feel 34… how’s that for service.. with a smile..

  64. Martha said,

    BTW… anyone can go to the website and get up to a 15 day forecast.
    It is http://www.accuweather.com then put in your local zip code, or the zip code of the location you want the weather for.

  65. Linda said,

    Hi Martha, thanks for the weather forecast. That IS an odd shift.

  66. Martha said,

    Linda,
    Yeah, but I like it.. I’d rather do this than have to get up in the morning. I’ve always been a night owl.

  67. Martha said,

    Oh… and you’re welcome… The accuweather site is pretty easy to find your way around in. I really like working here.

  68. Bobbie said,

    I’m always checking the weather for the other side of the world since my daughter doesn’t read the newspaper or listen to tv. So far, the best two spots that I’ve found have been accuweather and the noaa site. Once you guys even had a warning about some severe weather up before noaa did. Thanks for the good work, Martha.

  69. Robert said,

    Wow and all this time, I thought the weather was controlled by the president and the Republican party…heck, they’ve pretty much been accused of causing the hurricanes
    last year, the lack of snow for the ski resorts this year, shall i go on…

    Now back to the original subject…at last count there were 41 verified passages in her book stolen from someone elses works…talk about a coincidence…and am I the only one giving an Emmy to this gal who said with a straight face “I must have had some subconscious thoughts from having read them previously”…yeah thats the ticket!
    I’ve gotta use that excuse when I work on my grad school thesis in the next couple years…well uh, am its just after doing so much research I can;t recall whats original thought and whats other works. Yeah that’ll work!

    The only thing funnier in the news this weekend was reading that Lillian O’Brien got arrested for OUI…now thats funny, but then if you’ve ever been to some of the meetings that certain unnamed public officials attend you’d have better knowledge of this as the first item for discussion after the meeting is where are we going for drinks…maybe more of us should pay attention to our leaders. Better yet, go to a Maineiacs game and count the booze they consume.

  70. LaFlamme said,

    Yeah. And now it’s being questioned whether what’s-her-name even wrote the bulk of the book. Sounds like she was a prop for a sort of book farm with more interests in image than in the written work. I’ll bet she’s crying all the way to the bank.

  71. AO said,

    I think I’ll write a book. Think I’ll call it….”The Red Room”. Yeah, sound’s good.

  72. Linda said,

    How’s this for an opening: “Last night I dreamed I went to Mulberry again.”
    Anyone else?

  73. Robert said,

    I was thinking of the Clinton administration tell all book, beginning with (and I thought real hard o come up with this one myself, although it could be repressed memories) “It was the best of time, It was the worst of times…” Whadda ya think?

  74. Robert said,

    I was thinking of the Clinton administration tell all book, beginning with (and I thought real hard o come up with this one myself, although it could be repressed memories) “It was the best of time, It was the worst of times…” Whadda ya think?

  75. Gil said,

    The best opening line I have ever read was one that took me completely by surprise. Stephen Hunter’s “Dirty White Boys”:
    “Three men at McAlester State Penitentiary had larger penises than Lamar Pye…”

  76. K2 said,

    How ’bout the ‘opening’ of ‘The Hobbit’?

    ‘In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty dirty, wet hole, filled with worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a bare, sandy hole with nothing to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit hole, and that means comfort.’

    Ummm . . . no womb imagery there. . . .

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