September 25, 2015

Roberto Saviano

Roberto Saviano

Michael Moynihan, the man who caught Jonah Lehrer fabricating quotes, has a new target in Roberto Saviano, best-selling author of the mafia exposé Gomorrah. According to Moynihan, his latest book, ZeroZeroZero, on the international cocaine trade, “is stuffed with reporting and writing plundered from lesser-known journalists; it includes interviews with ‘sources’ who may not exist. . . and it contains numerous instances of unambiguous plagiarism.” Moynihan lays out whole chunks of Saviano prose next to near-identical passages from other journalists’ work, or from Wikipedia, and points out that an Italian court recently found he had plagiarized in Gomorrah too—but the most striking parts of the piece are those that quote Saviano on Saviano. When he’s not invoking Truman Capote and the nonfiction novel to defend the liberties taken in his reporting, he’s telling Moynihan that it’s all down to enemies trying to undermine him, because “in Italy I am not perceived simply as a writer, but as someone who, even though separate and distant from parliament, has the power to engage even the highest political offices in conversation. If a camorra [mafia] feud causes deaths in Naples, the prime minister makes a promise to me to give more attention to southern Italy.”

While we’re on the subject of ego and bombast, Morrissey has written a novel, and no one seems very happy about it (except perhaps those critics who got to single out its “most Morrissey lines” for ridicule). From the Guardian: “Do not read this book; do not sully yourself with it, no matter how temptingly brief it seems. All those who shepherded it to print should hang their heads in shame, for it’s hard to imagine anything this bad has been put between covers by anyone other than a vanity publisher.”

You can tell that Jorge Luis Borges never had the pleasure of crossing paths with Morrissey. In an extract from newly translated radio conversations between Borges and the poet Osvaldo Ferrari from the 1980s, he remarks that “one regards Shakespeare as typically English. However, none of the typical characteristics of the English are found in Shakespeare. The English tend to be reserved, reticent, but Shakespeare flows like a great river, he abounds in hyperbole and metaphor—he’s the complete opposite of an English person. . . . It’s as if each country looks for a form of antidote in the author it chooses.”

When is a TV star’s memoir not just a TV star’s memoir? Perhaps when it’s about getting out of Scientology.

Tonight at Pioneer Works, an outdoor launch party for n+1’s new issue.

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