May 22, 2006

About the Author

From the library:

Craig Clevenger, The Contortionist’s Handbook
Craig Clevenger, Dermaphoria
Andrei Codrescu, Messiah
Andrei Codrescu, Wakefield
John Colapinto, About the Author
Wanda Coleman, A War of Eyes

I came for the Clevenger and on a whim got some other books in the C’s. I have to admit I’ve never read a Black Sparrow book besides Bukowski and Fante so I got the Coleman. I hadn’t heard of About the Author but I read it first. I love books about writers.


The novel’s about a failed writer who steals his roommate’s novel a becomes a literary celebrity. He spends the rest of the novel trying to cover his tracks. Enjoyed it, a real page turner. Very prescient considering what’s been happening recently.

I haven’t written about the plagiarism case with the Harvard girl because everybody else was. And also: I don’t care. It’s hard to get worked up about a book called How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got A Life. It sounds terrible even if it was original. It’s a YA book, right, not heavy literature. I figure they crank out YA books like potato chips. The book shouldn’t be taken seriously, real or not.

I didn’t like how self-righteous everyone was getting about the writer, gleefully jumping all over a teenager. She fucked up, she’s a kid. This is just the literary world’s version of a tabloid scandal, i.e. the response was petty too.

I don’t think plagiarism or Frey is excusable, but the anger at writers seems misdirected. Frey was pressured by his publisher to call it a memoir. He seemed to be scapegoated for a larger problem. It’s not excusable that it happened, but it is understandable. The same goes for the Harvard student. The problem isn’t only that she got $500,000 for a fake book, but that she got paid $500,000 for a book of weightless chic-lit.

I am obviously a little defensive because of the Shirley Shave thing. I still don’t think Shirley Shave falls into the same category as those writers. I didn’t steal anything. Getting published in Best Sex Writing crossed a line, but to a much lesser degree. For your commenting pleasure, Anastasia, or Ass for short, left a comment in which she insults every commenter on Ash Tree.


Anonymous said...

ha ha ha Mr. Baum.... We all know this Anastasia ploy is another gimick.

Voix said...

Nothing like a little blog controversey to make a day go by faster, huh?

I'm with you that the Opal book has tabloid scandal written all over it, but I disagree that YA books are all mindless drivel.

There are some pretty amazing writers out there who craft fine books for young people -- why hate on the other writers? Some writers produce fluff and others produce more serious work, but it still takes a lot of effort to write a good book that will sell to its intended audience. Madeline L'Engle, Judy Blume, and Roald Dahl are all writers whose YA books have lasted for decades now -- maybe the Princess Diaries won't last, but A Wrinkle in Time? That book is solid gold.

Henry Baum said...

I’m not at all hating on all YA books just the wing that writes "How Stella Got Her Groove Back" for children.

Voix said...

I'm with ya there. And dude, do we need more books that teach 12 year old girls that they're supposed to be worried about where there groove is after all?

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