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A Young Author stares into the Abyss
Baffling similarities, but...
[by Patrick Hurley] 4/28/06

The only thing worse than a lie is another lie to cover up the first one.

This is a lesson a young author who signed a six-figure, two book-deal is having a difficult time grasping. As she was on her way to seeing one of her books become a movie produced by DreamWorks, a funny thing happened to her meteoric success.
Someone ELSE wrote several passages of her book a few years ago.


Now, the heralded young literary phenom, 19 year-old, Kaavya Viswanathan, a Harvard University sophomore is scrambling to “explain” her writing misadventures. Not a lot of people are buying her rationalizations, especially the publishing house that produced the original books she generously selected her passages from to juice her own book.

Patrick Hurley

Patrick Hurley is an independent conservative thinker living in Orange County, California. He has addressed over six million people in 47 states nationwide and won three Emmy awards for television comedy.[go to Hurley index]

The story begins when Viswanathan was in high school. It seems she was a huge fan of author Megan McCafferty who was adept in writing her OWN thoughts and making them sing on a page. As Kaavya read McCafferty’s novels, “Sloppy Firsts,” and, “Second Helpings,” she was so enamored with these tomes she shamelessly copied several passages changing a minimum amount of words in order to impress the publishing house to sign her as a wonderful novelist. Unfortunately, she was more of a clever marketer with chutzpah of the highest order, than a solid original writer. Fortunately, she got caught by several of McCafferty’s fans who happened to read the little plagiarist’s attempt to cash in on the best-selling book world of fame and fortune. I guess with some people it is not about character or self-respect in building a career; it is about the ability to make as much money as one can as fast as possible and pray no one catches you BEFORE you put in the bank.

Now comes the most intriguing part of the story. Ms. Viswanathan is not admitting that she did anything WRONG! She is claiming to be an innocent victim of her love for Megan McCafferty’s writing.


Her book, “How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life,” is really an ORIGINAL literary work according to Kaavya. She insists she is just baffled as to how the similarities in her book match up almost word for word to McCafferty’s descriptions written several years ago. “When I sat down to write my novel, my only intention was to write the story of Opal. I was so surprised and horrified when I found these similarities, when I heard about them this weekend.”

She said this with a straight face.

But, if you read the last two phrases of her statement carefully you will see how she misleads with lies. First, she said SHE found the similarities. Then, she quickly corrects herself because she knows she was not the one who blew the whistle on herself. It was the fans of Megan McCafferty who turned her in and exposed her for what she really is, a wannabe author who used someone else’s talent to pad her own success story.

There would be a POSSIBILITY to give this young woman the benefit of the doubt if we were talking about one literary similarity here but that is not the case. There were several paragraphs of dispute, (as many as 29-40 up to this writing) and as her book continues to be perused there is speculation they will find OTHER authors' dynamic phrases and wordings sprinkled within Ms. Viswanathan’s “original” text. To hear her claim ignorance of this breach of literary and personal character is reminds me of seeing Rosie Ruiz at a press conference following her “victory” in the Boston Marathon. She sat there and told everyone who was willing to listen that she was exhausted from her strenuous race. The next day, we all found out the truth. Rosie was worn out from riding the subway to just short of the finish line. Maybe it was the stairs leading to the train that made those stick figure legs of hers so sore? Since we are one the subject of successful people being shocked at accusations leveled towards them for cheating there is always Barry Bonds who was undoubtedly stunned when he basted a little cream on his skin and his body EXPLODED into a human muscular bomb shortly thereafter. His home run outburst was unprecedented soon after that and he insists to this day that he never KNOWINGLY took steroids.

When I was in college, I threw a beer party for all my friends. Early Sunday morning as we were lying comatose all over the living room, I heard my dad’s truck pull into the garage. I jumped up and began screaming, “MY DAD’S HOME! GET OUT NOW! GO!!!” My friends all scrambled out through the back patio. As my dad entered the house, he looked at me with my hair disheveled and hundreds of beer cans strewn everywhere. His question was understated, “Where did all these beer cans come from?” I maintained my poise and smiled, “Dad, I have NO idea!” I was busted. There was no sense in trying to cover it up. I was all alone out there on the prairie and there was no place to hide. He just shook his head and I could see the disappointment and disgust on his face. I cleaned up the living room and felt terrible. I apologized to him and he said, “I never want this to happen again!” It never did.

I am hoping that Kaavya Viswanathan realizes that her integrity is more important than her bank account. We are not always the most moral society, but we do not do well with dishonesty. If this young lady wants to be respected and go on from here to accomplish credibility in whatever she writes, she needs to stop glossing over the lying she has done and come clean with those who will make or break her career. Her publishing house does not seem to care about character here so it is up to her to take a stand and responsibly admit she fudged her novel. Because, at this point, this is not a story about a talented teenager who has a gift for writing. It is a tale of succeeding with a conscience. I hope she has one. It will determine whether or not I will ever buy one of her books. I can handle a bad novel. I just cannot bear to read a dishonest one.

“I just hope she (Megan McCafferty) believes I would never, ever intentionally lift her words. The last thing I ever wanted to do was upset her,” said Viswanathan.

No, Kaavya, the last thing you should ever want to do now is to add a third lie…-ONE-

copyright 2006 Patrick Hurley




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