Pissed Off

Oh, wow am I pissed. I’m so pissed off I don’t even want to use cutesy exclamation marks to illustrate how pissed off I am. Why am I pissed off? Have you read the article that the Wall Street Journal did about Jennifer Egan? No? Here you go. Don’t want to click on the link? Here’s the part that pissed me off. The bold is the WSJ’s question, and the part in italics is Egan’s response.

  • Over the past year, there’s been a debate about female and male writers and how they come off in the press. Franzen made clear that “Freedom” was going to be important, while others say that Allegra Goodman was too quiet about “The Cookbook Collector.” Do you think female writers have to start proclaiming, “OK, my book is going to be the book of the century”?
  • Anyone can say anything, that’s easy. My focus is less on the need for women to trumpet their own achievements than to shoot high and achieve a lot. What I want to see is young, ambitious writers. And there are tons of them. Look at “The Tiger’s Wife.” There was that scandal with the Harvard student who was found to have plagiarized. But she had plagiarized very derivative, banal stuff. This is your big first move? These are your models? I’m not saying you should say you’ve never done anything good, but I don’t go around saying I’ve written the book of the century. My advice for young female writers would be to shoot high and not cower.

Did you not see what part I am pissed about? Here it is again: There was that scandal with the Harvard student who was found to have plagiarized. But she had plagiarized very derivative, banal stuff. This is your big first move? These are your models?

Jennifer Egan is not upset that Kaavya Viswanathan plagiarized. She’s upset that Viswanathan chose to plagiarize authors who wrote “chick lit” and YA. Apologies to Sophie Kinsella, Meg Cabot, Megan McCafferty and Salman Rushdie (ugh, Rushdie, he’s the worst of the bunch, am I right?) – you guys just don’t write the kind of literature worth reading, I guess. I hope you just read that last sentence and heard my voice dripping with sarcasm. Because that’s how I typed it.

I am actually double pissed off because I wanted to read “A Visit from the Goon Squad”. I heard it was a bit science fictiony which is right up my alley. But now I won’t be reading that book. Or any other book by Egan. You could say that I’m being petty and close minded, and you could wonder why this even really matters to me. The biggest reason that this really pisses me off is that she insinuates that someone like Meg Cabot (and the others) should not be looked to as a role model. Really? Jennifer Egan, have you even MET Meg? Have you ever read one of her books? I’m willing to bet that she has done neither. Because how could you meet Meg and then call her work banal or derivative? I don’t care if you think those things, Meg is so nice that saying those things are almost like kicking a puppy. Congrats, Jennifer Egan, you just kicked a puppy. Now I’m not saying that Meg Cabot is a defenseless little puppy. She knows how to defend herself. Just check out her blog entry, The Princess Thing. Meg defends her belief that princesses are awesome (true) while not slamming anybody who believes differently. That’s class. Meg should do a workshop where she teaches girls and women how to embrace their inner princess and Jennifer Egan should attend. Actually, Meg, can you do this for real? I will totally come even though I’ve already embraced my inner princess.

But seriously, the thing is, I can’t help but feel personally insulted by Jennifer Egan because Meg is one of my literary role models. You can say what you want about her books but the truth is is that a reader only gets what he or she puts in to their reading. Are there terrible authors? Probably. Can I think of any right now? No. Some people would probably say that Stephenie Meyer or Dan Brown were terrible writers, but the reality is that these authors are incredibly popular and they definitely have their market nailed down. And so does Meg. Actually, Meg writes across the board too! She has books for adults, teens, AND children. Plus there’s some science fiction and paranormal thrown in too. She writes EVERYTHING (that I can think of at the moment…Meg probably hasn’t covered EVERYTHING there is to write about..yet).

I think Jennifer Egan assumed (or probably didn’t even think about at all) that everyone who would enjoy her book would only enjoy that type of fiction. But I think that a lot of people, myself included, read all different types of books. And when an author slams another genre it says nothing good about them. And when you slam a group of authors who are incredibly popular with the YA crowd, such as Cabot and McCafferty, you are going to suffer a lot of backlash. Because if there’s anything we know it’s that the younger crowd rules the internet, and therefore the world.

So Jennifer? Next time you give an interview, try not to stick your foot in your mouth. You’re better than that, I hope.

Oh, and also?


Huggles, Lindsay

7 Responses to “Pissed Off”

  1. 1 ngtjennifer April 20, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    I hate it when people refer to kids/YA stuff as “not real writing” and stuff like that. It pisses me off too! I feel like whenever people insult YA writers they are insulting kids, adults who read YA, and YA librarians. Arrrrgghhh!!

  2. 2 ngtjill April 20, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    OMG! Now I’M pissed off! And I admit I wasn’t so much at first but that’s only because I hadn’t heard about the plagiarism thing, so I didn’t understand what she was talking about. But I just landed on the wikipedia page about Kaavya Viswanathan’s book & it’s FASCINATING. Look at the passage comparisons! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_Opal_Mehta_Got_Kissed,_Got_Wild,_and_Got_a_Life

    But back to this topic, I am totally offended by how she referred to those writers. The way she says it, it’s like it’s MORE than the chick lit genre – it’s like it’s all of YA lit! I completely agree with Jen. I feel like there are so many lists and awards for adult books and children’s books, YA lit just seems like an afterthought if they get any. There are so many fabulous books in YA! I am insulted as a YA librarian and a reader and fan of YA books and authors.

  3. 3 ngtlindsay April 20, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    Yeah, no, she totally insulted the YA and chick lit genres. Do you think she really meant to insult Salman Rushdie? Probably not. She probably doesn’t even know WHO was plagiarized, let alone which books were taken from.
    I picked Meg out of the 4 authors b/c 1. She was my favorite and 2. I have never read all of the Jessica Darling books (just the first 2! I know!) or any of Rushdie’s or Kinsella’s books (again, I know!)
    But mainly because Meg is one of my main models. This post could have been a LOOOOOOOOOTTTTTT longer.
    Although I hear Megan McCafferty got (and accepted) an apology. But still, I’m not happy. And I’m still not going to be reading any of her books. Maybe if I forget about this I will one day read her books and think they’re awesome, but until then I won’t be able to read anything by/about her without thinking of the sucker punch she dealt to me.

  4. 4 Amber April 20, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    She did give an apology? Good, can you link to it? BECAUSE I HAVE BEEN SO STEAMED UP ALL DAY. and I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt–you know, that she was all excited that she won the pulitzer and her words came out wrong, etc. OH WAIT, maybe words-coming-out-wrong is only a thing that happens to Chick Lit authors ::scowling in way that Steve calls my “swim face”:: Okay, now I implying things beyond what she said which isn’t fair.

    sooooo did she apologize to just Megan? because she should apologize to the reading population as a whole! Even if I did read her book now, I would have such a chip on my shoulder that I could never enjoy it. And judging by her views on reading, I am not meant to enjoy it—it is too literary, harvard-educated, and important to enjoy–yup it is COMPLETELY UNLIKE the books I prefer to read which I ENJOY MY HEART OUT. I will also have a hard time recommending it in the library (which I had already done numerous times on Monday & Tuesday) because I will always feel the need to tell the patron the HORRIBLE thing she said (which is what I did all day today).

    Part of me feels really bad, because if she didn’t mean for it to sound that way, and she really does support her fellow writers, then she must feel AWFUL and HORRIFIED, and it is a total bummer this is messing with her Pulitzer Prize Party Party Party Time. But if that is the case, how come she isn’t apologizing all of the place? One apology to one author doesn’t really show remorse.

    Her comments remind me a lot of snoooty parents who don’t want their children reading picture books and graphic novels–so instead they just don’t read at all. Is that what Jennifer Egan wants? For us to read her books, or The Tiger’s Wife, or not to read at all? Yeah, she won’t be on an ALA READS poster anytime soon while she has ideas like that. (we all know being on a READS poster is the highest achievement of authoring.)

  5. 5 Diana April 21, 2011 at 12:21 am

    Ugh, Egan is from my hometown of San Francisco and attended the same high school that I did (though many years before I did). I’ve never read anything by her and don’t really want to now. Don’t insult Meg Cabot!

  6. 6 ngtjennifer April 21, 2011 at 8:01 am

    Don’t worry about holding a grudge Lindsay. There are certain authors that I will NEVER read because I HATED one of their books (Rachel Vail) and I usually don’t buy them for the library either. I can always use the excuse that we don’t have enough money and nobody’s asked for them. I’m pretty sure that makes me a bad librarian, but I don’t care.

  7. 7 ngtlindsay April 21, 2011 at 11:58 am

    I’m trying to find an article or link to the actual apology, but all I’ve got is a tweet from Megan McCafferty and I’m not sure how to link to it. If an apology ever does go up I will most definitely be linking to it.

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