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Book News for Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Sorry for the delay with today's blog posts. You may (or may not) have noticed that our site was down for a few hours. But the alien saboteurs have been dispatched and sent back to their evil homeworld, so all seems well again. And now, the news...

  • Fast on the heels of its spectacularly unsuccessful foray into film, the empire of Starbucks is expanding into publishing novels, too.

    If the content of their books turns out anything like the content of their music and movies, I'm going to need a venti latte with about sixteen shots just to get through the first chapter with my eyes open.

  • Just when you thought it was all over... turns out Kaavya Viswanathan may have copied passages in How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life from a second author. The New York Times reports, "At least three portions in the book...bear striking similarities to writing in Can You Keep a Secret?, a chick-lit novel by Sophie Kinsella."

    This one's particularly odd to me. Anybody remember the very first Book News item about the Viswanathan scandal? (Of course not, why would you? I barely remember it.) Your humble correspondent wrote: "C'mon, people, this isn't exactly Shakespeare or Joyce. Or even Sophie Kinsella." Looks like I was completely wrong.

    However, I have to say, having read the passages cited for similarities, they're starting to really stretch the definition of "plagiarism" now:

    Details and descriptions are also similar. Jack, the love interest in Ms. Kinsella's novel has a scar on his hand; so does Sean, the romantic hero in "Opal." Jack has "eyes so dark they're almost black," so does Sean.

    That's not necessarily plagiarism — just bad writing. If you really want to be impressed by Viswanathan's white-wash job, check out the Times' side-by-side comparison.

  • A co-worker insists that Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash is becoming reality — and here's proof:

    A real world cash card that allows gamers to spend money earned in a virtual universe has been launched. Gamers can use the card at cash machines around the world to convert virtual dollars into real currency.

    The only thing you can't buy with your virtual money is a life.

÷ ÷ ÷

Brockman is the head writer for the daily Book News posts on the Powells.com blog. In his free time he's hard at work on his fictional memoir, which changes titles daily.

The views and commentary posted by Brockman are entirely his own, and are not representative of the whole of Powell's Books, its employees, or any sane human being.

Books mentioned in this post

  1. Can You Keep a Secret? Used Trade Paper $4.95
  2. Snow Crash
    Used Trade Paper $8.00

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