Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Brad Vice affair


There is a writer called Brad Vice (a literary fellow) who has been accused of plagiarism. And whatever the rights and wrongs of the case, he seems to be in deep trouble. I am grateful to Rodney King for pointing out to me an article which appears in the New York Journal and which describes the whole sorry story.

If you read the NYJ story, which is pretty much a head-on attack on Brad Vice and all he stands for, then in all fairness you need to be aware that Vice has his defenders. Chief among these is Jason Sanford. And the whole thing has generated a furore in those sections of the blogosphere which actually take stuff like this seriously. See, for instance, From Here to Obscurity.

Well, I take plagiarism seriously too, of course. It's just that this particular instance involves the whole literary-fiction/creative-writing nexus in the good ole USA. And that is a group of people for whom I have very little time or patience. I have frequently been critical in these columns about the proliferation of creative-writing courses in general and MFA degrees in particular. At its best, this area of activity seems to me to be delusional; at its worst it closely resembles a racket.

What you will observe, if you pay even the most passing attention to the Brad Vice row and similar spats, is that there is a great deal at stake here. Such as teaching jobs and associated perks for writers who would otherwise, I suspect, be largely unemployable. Then there's reputation -- limited to certain areas though it may be. Not surprising then that tempers run short.

By the way, a minute after I finished writing the above, I came across a link on the Literary Saloon leading to an article by Sam Sacks, called The Fiction Machine. Sam is himself a graduate of a creative-writing course, but he is smart enough to have some reservations about the whole tedious business. As does anyone else with any brains.


The Gambino Crime Family said...

It's amazing how quick the University of Georgia Press was to pulp the book. No attempt at a defense, no promise to "correct" the problem in future editions. It was just off to, uh, pulping factory?, we go.

It makes you think that there might be other problems with the book beyond those two stories (or maybe Vice has a lousy personality...)

Anonymous said...

none of this nonsense would have been picked up on in the time of Shakespeare, and they did write rather well then