What A Lie Will Buy You
I first heard about teen author Kaavya Vishwanathan from Lee at Digital Nicotine. That was nearly two weeks ago, but people are still spilling ink over her, to what end I have no idea. She is an apparently very bright girl who cribbed much of her teen novel from other writers. She claims it was unintentional, and perhaps to a degree it was. When you read a lot, sometimes ideas lay on top of each other like coats at a party, and you occasionally grab the wrong one off the pile in the mistaken belief that it's actually yours. I've done it, only to find that what I thought was a keenly expressed original thought was really the echoes of better writers--Lilkes or Harper Lee.
But as I read more of her tale, I'm convinced that she was under the kind of pressure that makes men twice her size and age buckle into a distorted mess. She desperately wanted to go to Harvard, to be noticed and to frantically grab all the best world-beater tools as quickly as possible. She scored a zillion on her SAT, had a higher-than-4.0 GPA and brought kittens and puppies back to life. Surely no one this saintly and wonderful would lie.
Speaking of saintly liars, or not, that other writer who lied is also back in the news, this time with the stunning revelation that his second best-seller is (Surprise!) chock-full-o-lies. Oh, most of the book is true. Except a main character, the fact that he didn't actually do all that jail time and many other things. So, all the important stuff save for the copyright date.
And I'm not even going to get into Dan Brown. For more on him you can kick back with a cup of coffee and read Mark Rose's takedown.
Why are we all lying now? Why is it more important to be heard than to be truthful? What about our own lives needs the justification of fame so badly that it doesn't seem wrong to barter integrity for good press coverage? I'm thinking that more and more people are succumbing to the belief that there are things such as money and fame which are more important that good character and personal integrity. And it makes me kind of sad.