"I Remember by Reading" Says Chick Lit Plagiarist

Chip Scanlan, writes in the Poynter.org website about Harvard’s now infamous “Chick-Lit Plagiarist” Kaavya Viswanathan.

“When accusations of plagiarism began to spread this week about a hot new novelist — a 19-year-old Ivy Leaguer who’d pulled down a reputed $500,000 two-book contract and a DreamWorks movie deal to boot — one of Kaavya Viswanathan’s classmates detected more than a whiff of schadenfreude in the blogosphere.

Viswanathan, the daughter of Indian doctors who live in suburban New Jersey, wrote a book about the daughter of Indian doctors who live in suburban New Jersey.

In her mea culpa, the wordnapping writer had added a new excuse — the unconscious defense — to the litany of justifications plagiarists use to explain away their purloined texts. “Any phrasing similarities between her works and mine,” Viswanathan insisted, “were completely unintentional and unconscious.” Her latest explanation, she confided to The New York Times: her photographic memory. “I remember by reading,” she told the Times’ Dinitia Smith. “I never take notes.”

“At best disingenuous and at worst literary identity theft,” a spokesman for Random House (its Crown imprint publishes McCafferty) shot back. In a rare move, Little, Brown, Viswanathan’s publisher, has asked bookstores to pull the book from shelves and return unsold copies.