Shannon Stacey

Internalizing The Crucible?

So the offending book has been pulled and Kaavya Viswanathan in disgrace. Good. (Although I’m waiting for that book packager to get slapped, as well.) But I can’t help but wonder if things like this get a little out of hand. The NYT ran an article about how she also apparently ripped off yet another author: Sophie Kinsella. (And I’ve heard she might have ripped off Meg Cabot, as well.)

At least three portions in the book, “How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life,” by Kaavya Viswanathan, bear striking similarities to writing in “Can You Keep a Secret?,” a chick-lit novel by Sophie Kinsella.

The New York Times was alerted to the similarities by a phone call from a reader.

And, as with all the other articles on this debacle, the writer offers up some examples:

There are echoes in another scene in which one of Ms. Kinsella’s characters threatens another, “And we’ll tell everyone you got your Donna Karan coat from a discount warehouse shop.”

In Ms. Viswanathan’s version, Opal threatens another girl, Priscilla, saying, “I’ll tell everyone that in eighth grade you used to wear a ‘My Little Pony’ sweatshirt to school every day.”

Umm…I’m sorry, but I don’t see that. Did somebody copyright the cattiness of young women while I wasn’t looking? If not for the obvious usage of McCafferty’s work and the ensuing scandal, this would never in a million years be offered up as proof of poaching somebody else’s work.

Details and descriptions are also similar. Jack, the love interest in Ms. Kinsella’s novel has a scar on his hand; so does Sean, the romantic hero in “Opal.” Jack has “eyes so dark they’re almost black,” so does Sean.

If Ms. Kinsella has the lock on “eyes so dark they’re almost black”, there are a whole lot of royally-screwed romance authors out there. As a matter of fact, my eyes are so dark they’re almost black. And I have a scar on my hand (whittle away, not toward the body). Holy crap, I’m a knock-off!

I think the allegations against Viswanathan are serious. I applaud the recalling of her books and whatever other actions McCafferty and her publisher take against everybody involved with Opal. But now it seems to be moving into some kind of witchhunting phase that just annoys the hell out of me.

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