Our Writers' Hall of Shame highlights the plagiarists, hoaxers, and embellishers of the literary world. Ironically, as the author's writing talent is called into question, his or her book often soars in collectibility and value. Check out the infamous books of these Hall of Shamers.
In the Plagiarism Category
Her story: Kaavya had it all. As a teenaged Harvard student, she had already signed a $500,000 book advance and a movie deal. However, it was discovered that she "borrowed" extensively from Megan McCafferty's Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings. Similarities to Sophia Kinsella's Can You Keep a Secret? have also surfaced. Her publisher pulled her book from the shelves and cut her loose.
The book's story: Opal's entire life has been geared towards getting accepted into Harvard. But
when they ask her what she likes to do for fun she is stumped. Her parents take
it in their stride and plan HOWGAL - How Opal Will Get A Life springs into
action, with hilarious results.
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Repeat Winner in the Embellishment Category
His story: James' "memoir" of drug addiction and recovery was revealed to contain numerous fabrications, including a jail term that he never actually served. His sequel My Friend Leonard has also been found to be an inventive "combination of fact and fiction," as admitted by Frey in his note on the paperback edition.
The book's story: Intense, unpredictable, and instantly engaging, A Million Little Pieces is a story of drug and alcohol abuse and rehabilitation as it has never been told before. It brings you face-to-face with a provocative new understanding of the nature of addiction and the meaning of recovery.
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In the Hoaxer Category
His story: Nasdijj burst onto the literary scene, a Navajo born on a reservation, the son of a drunken mother and an abusive father. He wrote three poignant memoirs, including The Boy and The Dog Are Sleeping, and then his secret was discovered: he was actually a struggling gay erotica writer named Timothy Barrus.
The book's story: "Why would anyone sane adopt a child with AIDS?" writes Nasdijj. And yet he does, soon after the loss of his own son. He is determined to help 11-year-old Awee battle the illness and the society around him, but most of all, find reasons for hope.
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In the Hustler Category
His/her story: Who is JT Leroy? The mysterious writer claimed she suffered from extreme shyness, and refused to appear in public without a
wig, hat, and sunglasses. But in fact, someone else entirely was posing as JT Leroy. The New York Times discovered that JT Leroy was a hoax invented by Laura Albert and her partner to promote their work.
The book's story: An androgynous 12-year-old boy, idolizes his mother Sarah, a "lot lizard", or truck-stop prostitute. Adopting her name, and pretending to be a girl, "Sarah" stumbles into dangerous and fantastic worlds pocketed away in the West Virginian wilds. When he is captured by the malevolent Le Loup, his life is put in jeopardy until his cries for help are finally heard.
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