In college, Kevin Kopelson passed off a paper by his older brother Robert as his own. In graduate school, he plagiarized nearly an entire article from a respected scholar, and then later, having met her and been asked if he would send something for her to read, sent that essay he had plagiarized from her work. This is not to mention the many instances in which he quoted others extensively, not passing their work off as his own, but substituting it for his own words when his words were what were called for. Until recently, such plagiarisms and thefts had been his most shameful secret, shared only with a trusted few. But then Kopelson, now an English professor and the author of a number of respected books, most recently 2007's SEDARIS, wrote an essay entitled MY CORTEZ, which was published in the LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS in 2008. It was a satirical literary confession, an exploration of his personal and professional life via his various acts of plagiarism. From that jumping off point and exploring also his other vices, CONFESSIONS OF A PLAGIARIST is the compelling and clever retelling (not to mention renovation) of Kopelson's life, one transgression at a time.
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A native New Yorker, Kevin Kopelson attended both Bronx High School of Science and The Juilliard School. He majored in music at Yale (graduating at age nineteen) and then got a law degree from Columbia (at twenty-two). After practicing law, he got a doctorate in English Literature from Brown (at thirty-one). Much to his surprise, he has been in Iowa ever since, teaching critical theory at a university there and also, unlike some even older colleagues, writing books (LOVE'S LITANY , BEETHOVEN'S KISS , THE QUEER AFTERLIFE OF VASLAV NIJINSKY , NEATNESS COUNTS , and SEDARIS ). Much to his surprise, he is now fifty-two.Review:
This is as painful and thoughtful as a great confessional essay can be, but it also has a quality I haven't seen before: a clenched-jaw bravado, as if Kopelson were performing surgery on himself. It leaves the reader squirming but fascinated. --Kathrin Day Lassila (Editor, Yale Alumni Magazine)
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