Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Throwing Kaavya under the bus

Seems as if Kaavya Viswanathan is being escorted out the door by security-not only has her contract with Little,Brown been canceled with no plans to reprint a revised edition of Opal Mehta(now selling for as much as forty dollars on the collector's market)but the Bergen county newspaper where she interned at during 2003 and 2004 are now going to go over her previous articles for them to check for accuracy. All this comes on the heels of more findings of other works plundered for How Opal Mehta...such as Can You Keep a Secret by Sophie Kinsella,Meg Cabot's Princess Diaries and Salman Rushdie's Haroun and the Sea of Stories.

What bothers me is how quickly everyone is to drag this girl to the town square for a ol' fashioned burning at the stake. Yes, she did wrong here and it's fit and proper of her publisher to cancel her contract. However,I don't hear anything from Little,Brown about how they're going to give a closer look at Alloy Entertainment which is just as responsible,in my opinion,seeing as how they own half of the copyright of the book and admitted to having"shaped" the first four chapters. I was afraid that Kaavya was going to be the scapegoat here and it looks like I was right.

Also,Kaavya's agent was the one who brought her to Alloy before bringing her book to any publisher and there's no comment from her or Alloy about what's going on now. All these borrowed passages from more than one author suggests to me a committee approach to putting this book together"Ok,we got some chick lit here,a bit of teen girl stuff and hey,can somebody get us something that makes this chapter sound more Indian?". No excuse for Kaavya to let this happen but she's not the only guilty party who should be held accountable here. A lot of people say this is James Frey fallout but his book is still on the shelves and people seemed satified enough after his public bitchslapping by Oprah to let him move on. Kaavya's only 19 and she's getting more public scrutiny than most elected officials do in a year.

Hopefully,this Kaavya hunt will end soon with those involved in pulling this patchworked wool over the eyes of readers all getting theirs. I also think it's sad that most of the book buzz this year seems to be all about scams and wrongdoings. It would be nice to talk about some good books getting the attention they deserve. Yes,I've joined in the heady mix of trash talk but am getting sick of this rolling in the muck and feel the need to hose myself off here. I feel the need...the need to read!(You know things are bad if I have to resort to qouting Tom Cruise movies).

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