Self-Destruction as Spectator Sport
I admit to a morbid fascination with the meteoric rise and Hindenberg fall of Harvard student Kaavya Viswanathan’s literary career.
The young woman had landed a comparatively lucrative contract for her first novel, How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life ... which was published and distributed to bookstores ... only to be quickly accused of (the number varies) up to forty instances of plagiarism of another writer, Megan McCafferty, and other lifted phrases (including, supposedly, something from Salman Rushdie. Not your usual chick lit author).
Things now get rough for an individual who had seemingly been handed the keys to the "I'm A Novelist" kingdom.
Her campus, abuzz with the schadenfreude that can only be generated by mega-achieving little egotists who were somewhat happy about their classmate's achievement but even happier about her failure, can't be a comfortable place for her right now.
One imagines her mother and father as literary stageparents who thought they had pushed her to the pinnacle only to see her topple, and probably aren't really happy with her.
Her publisher has yanked the books and any subsequent contract.
How much failure and shame can one young soul contain? She's so young. And it's all so visible.
She will either allow this incredibly unfortunate event to destroy her. Or -- and this is what I hope -- she will recede, take a deep look at the direction in which she had been headed, rebuild ... and years from now publish a truly great work that is entirely her own.
You can do it, Kaavya.