It’s working: Every major news outlet in the country is dragging this guy over the coals. The crazy thing is that he grew up on the Upper West Side and I went to school with him. I think I know what he’s up to.
About ten years before Gavin McInnes started taking credit for inventing hipsters, there were hipsters. We didn’t call them hipsters (we called them “mods”) but they wore suit-pants and retarded thick-rimmed glasses, and had the same Williamsburg attitude that keeps me out of their neighborhood today.
Now as it turns out, I grew up on the Upper West Side with their leader, a kid named Quentin, who happens to be the Brooklyn “Plagiarist” that every major news outlet is raking over the coals this morning.
As far as I’m concerned, Quentin was the first hipster ever. This kid was listening to My Bloody Valentine and acting aloof on Bowery while Gavin was still in Canada playing in a terrible punk band.
Quentin was mean and insecure and smart, with a face like a kangaroo rat. He walked around all quiet and well dressed and brilliant, not showing anyone his writing because there was no Internet — a convenient excuse which allowed him to appear breathtakingly talented by just remaining silent.
I haven’t talked to the guy in 15 years, and I always thought he was just a pretentious douchebag; only now do I realize that he’s actually a genius.
Here’s my theory:
1. The guy was probably a highly skilled writer, but like any other artiste, nothing he wrote could ever be popular or make money because who GIVES a fuck about your novel on suburban Connecticut malaise.
2. He spent the last ten years working in a Park Slope book shop, watching Jonathan Safran Foer (a genius who knows how to write things real people want to read) sell books like hotcakes while his heroic underground authors continued to starve like My Bloody Valentine.
Aside: Never forget that the biggest lie — just as big a lie as Wall Street has ever told — comes from any artist who tells you he could choose to be a mainstream success if only he had less integrity.
3. Quentin decides to write a book that will get published and be popular: a towering feat in this literary economy, which proves that he’s both smart and immensely talented. (If it doesn’t, then why don’t you do it? Afraid carrying around all that money and pussy will strain your back?)
4. He decides to fuck with the system, constructing a brilliant scheme to sell millions of books, make himself famous and also give the finger to the literary world in a Banksy-esque subversive prank.
5. Sorry, there’s just too many directly copied passages for me to believe that he didn’t think he’d be caught. Go and look at the passages: There are 20 of them in the first 15 pages.
This is a very smart fucking guy we’re talking about, and it looks like he posted hundreds of directly copied paragraphs — lifted from classic spy thrillers — into a book targeted at a meticulously detail-oriented and geeky audience. Assassin of Secrets? C’mon. Either he’s mentally insane (and not in a Prozac / Smashing Pumpkins way) or he did this on purpose.
6. It’s working: Yes, he’s being bashed by the mainstream media, but James Frey had to suck Oprah’s dick while she called him a liar — and after that comparatively small price to pay, he’s a famous author with props and love and money.
7. Take a long term view of this scandal: If Quentin comes out of hiding in six months and says it was all a hoax, he’ll smell like the Sex Pistols of literature, having pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes and pretentiously proving how “easy” it is (for him) to beat the Steven King / Jonathan Lethem system.
He’ll be a downtown celebrity while simultaneously having the whole world dying to read whatever he writes next.
(Naturally, as soon as this scandal broke, his book went from #62924 to #127 on Amazon.)
8. What about the book’s publisher — Little Brown and co. — were they complicit in the scheme?
Well, remember the scene from Casino where all the slot machines in Robert DeNiro’s joint just happen to pay out at once? DeNiro comes downstairs, livid and fires the young manager.
“How is this my fault?” the kid asks.
“Listen, if you didn’t know you’re bein’ scammed, you’re too fuckin’ dumb to keep this job. If you did know, you were in on it. Either way, you’re out. Get out! Go on. Let’s go.”
So either the publisher knew or someone’s too dumb to keep his job. All things considered — especially given all the blurb-writers they’d be screwing over by letting this go to print — I’m going to bet on “dumb.”
Either “QR Markham” is a rebel genius, or I’m totally wrong and he’s a klepto moron psycho. Follow the money: If he’s rich and famous in ten years, it’ll look like I was right; if he hangs himself from a shower curtain rod, well then, I guess it was the latter.