I haven’t done a links post in forever. But my Monday morning procrastination to avoid Real Work led to some interesting reads:
First up: We can stop arguing about whether Jonah Lehrer plagiarized when he self-plagiarized. Now he admits he did something worse. He made up quotes and then lied about it when asked. The nail-in-the-coffin story by Michael Moynihan crashed Tablet Mag’s website, but here’s a cached version. Definitely read the whole thing. And here’s Lehrer’s statement as broken by the New York Times‘ Julie Bosman on Twitter and then reported on the NYT‘s Media Decoder blog:
“Three weeks ago, I received an email from journalist Michael Moynihan asking about Bob Dylan quotes in my book ‘Imagine,’ ” Mr. Lehrer said in a statement. “The quotes in question either did not exist, were unintentional misquotations, or represented improper combinations of previously existing quotes. But I told Mr. Moynihan that they were from archival interview footage provided to me by Dylan’s representatives. This was a lie spoken in a moment of panic. When Mr. Moynihan followed up, I continued to lie, and say things I should not have said.”
“The lies are over now. I understand the gravity of my position. I want to apologize to everyone I have let down, especially my editors and readers. I also owe a sincere apology to Mr. Moynihan. I will do my best to correct the record and ensure that my misquotations and mistakes are fixed. I have resigned my position as staff writer at The New Yorker.”
Kids, don’t lie, especially if you’re already on record as a Wunderkind. The internet will find you out.
Next: A fascinating article by author Ned Beauman in The Awl, in which he discusses how positive reviews can be even more irritating than negative ones. I confess that some of his points had not occurred to me, and they may make some reviewers irate:
a great Amazon review from someone with literary values that you suspect to be utterly incompatible with your own can mean two things. It can mean you have written a book of such resplendent universal appeal that it converts even your adversaries. I don’t think that’s very likely in my case, otherwise my sales would be a lot higher (although perhaps this is how Bruce Springsteen explains to himself the worshipful presence of Chris Christie at so many of his concerts). Or it can mean that you’ve been pandering—producing work that you don’t honestly believe in, just because you want to caper before a mass audience.
Beauman strikes a chord with me, though, when he writes about the demands on authors to be always available to their readers, and to project a likeable image:
You’re encouraged to seclude yourself in an attic to produce the best work you possibly can—just as long as you reply to your fans on Twitter. You’re encouraged to pursue your own unique and ineffable vision—just as long as you’re responsive to feedback. It seems to me hardly necessary to point out that the qualities we expect of our authors today are not just irrelevant but hostile to the intellectual conditions in which good books are actually written. And this is why I’m not worried that being ungracious towards my admirers makes me sound rude. Because, as a grown-up reader, there’s not much that’s more insipid and regressive than demanding likeable characters. But there is one thing. Demanding likeable writers.
And finally, some good news in July: The RITA awards were announced Saturday, at the closing banquet of the RWA. I violated my Twitter hiatus to follow the results in real time and was amply rewarded. Among the many deserving nominees and recipients, two stood out for me:
Sarah Morgan won the Contemporary Series Romance category with Doukakis’ Apprentice. Dear Author reviewed the book here. Morgan is one of my favorite Harlequin authors, writing in both the Presents and the Medical lines. She writes funny, angsty, and everything in between. Congratulations Sarah!
And, even more amazingly and also entirely deservingly, Fiona Lowe won best Contemporary Single Title Romance with Boomerang Bride. It’s the first time an e-publisher (Carina Press) has won a RITA, and what a category to win. I think I read that the book had been turned down about a dozen times before Carina picked it up. It’s a terrific book. I reviewed it for Dear Author here. And yeah, I know, I only gave it a B. I’m a hard grader, OK? You should read it. Congratulations Fiona!
July is almost over. Thank goodness. I can’t take any more kerfuffles.