You didn't seriously think I was going to let this whole Kaavya Viswanathan thing go by without comment, did you ? According to the New York Times, Ms. Viswanathan now claims that the copying was "unintentional and unconscious" and that she wasn't aware of how much she had "internalized Ms. McCafferty's words." Let's leave aside, for a moment, the implausability of this argument (I mean okay, so we've all borrowed a phrase or two from Shakespeare without realising it, but 29 whole passages? Unconsciously? Come on! Forget the ethics of the thing, Harvard should throw her out just for coming up with so flimsy an excuse. I mean even Harvard's most incompetent graduate has managed to come up with a more convincing story than that; true, Ms. Viswanathan doesn't have Karl Rove on her team, but still!). The real question to me is this:
Is it better to be a manipulative little vixen who fooled everyone into thinking she was this hotshot teen phenomenon (I especially love the 'high pressure Asian and Indian families' pitch - so eminently marketable), conned her way into Harvard, got herself a sweet book deal and an option from DreamWorks, all at an impossibly young age, and almost, almost got away with it OR the kind of ditsy teenager who internalises a book called "Sloppy Firsts" by someone who's a (former) editor at Cosmo (can it get more cliched than that)?
Personally, I'd cop to the plagiarism charge any day of the week. After all, law suits are one thing, but if you don't have taste what do you have? Being a chick-lit writer (I believe the term is 'young adults'. Ya, right.) is bad enough, but at least you can point out that you get paid for writing the stuff (which is more than I can say for my dissertation, for example, which is almost certain to arouse no interest whatsoever from Dreamworks). Actually paying to read this stuff, however, and then lapping it up as it were God's own gift to the written word, is just unforgivable.
It's at times like these that I'm reminded of the words of that greatest of all mathematicians to come out of Harvard.
P.S. I particularly love the agent's defense of Kaavya at the bottom of the NY Times piece. Apparently, it's just that "teenagers tend to adopt each other's language"!
 As someone who's literate, I must, of course, strenuously deny any suggestion that I might actually have considered reading or even so much as heard of Ms. Viswanathan before the current controversy broke out. As far as I'm concerned she's just a silly nuisance who's taking up space in the Books section of the Times which by rights should be going to Philip Roth.
 The other books are called, apparently, 'Second Helpings' and 'Charmed Thirds', thus combining deathless prose with what, for their readers, is doubtless advanced mathematics. One wonders what the next book in the series will be called. 'Holding Fourth', perhaps?