(I love saying that.)
Guess Harvard kids aren’t the only ones who like the packaged lit story. The Times is now Frey-ing Viswanathan. The paper of record hops on Jon Liu’s piece this morning. But doesn’t do nearly as good a job as Liu.
The great thing Liu did, or tried to do, was a literary postmortem on Kaavya Visnawathan (I hate this story—you try spelling her name some time). He went back over a bunch of her interviews and showed how her literary influences were just what you’d think a Harvard undergrad’s would be: Kazuo Ishiguro (somebody help me!), Zadie Smith (whew), Jane Austen. Hey Harvard kids don’t brag on reading Megan McCafferty, young adult novelist. Liu was taking this story to the next, meta- level. What made this Opal book?
I think Harvard kids have succeeded in Frey-ing Visnawathan. They’ve opened it up and made it delicious. This one won’t end—if I know Harvard—till Visnawathan has given back her advance and dropped out. To understand what I’m saying, just read The Lord of the Flies, or A High Wind in Jamaica. Two (true) classics of young adult lit, in which young adults eviscerate one another and cook the liver over the camp fire.