I’m Not a Plagiarist.
I’m a Cover Author.
If you aren’t one of the hundreds of thousands of people of all ages, sexes, races, and literacy levels who have already rushed to judgment and denounced me as a serial plagiarist — and an artless one, at that — allow me to introduce myself. My (pen) name is D.B. Carlin — although some wags have taken to dubbing me “Edgar Allan Poach,” “Flannery O’Conman,” and even “John Theever” — and I am the author of a recently self-published collection of short stories originally written by others.
It might interest you to know — if you’re at all inclined to hear my side of things before branding me a “barefaced shoplifter of fiction who commits wholesale literary larceny” — that I was inspired by my uncle’s Everclear tribute band to pay homage to my favorite writers’ best works in the same way that the Grayin’ Alcoholics honor Messrs. Alexakis, Montoya, and Eklund by performing the trio’s most popular musical compositions at open mic nights in bars around the greater Portland, Maine area. It goes without saying that everyone who goes to see Uncle Stu and his bandmates or who simply find themselves in the same watering hole knows that they’re not listening to the real original Everclear lineup, which parted ways in 2003 after lackluster sales of Slow Motion Daydream. But they can still enjoy the experience!
“I am the author of a recently self-published collection of short stories originally written by others.”
Similarly, even the least astute purchasers of the stories in my book Nobody Here But Us Dickens would know that they’re not reading the works of Borges, Bierce, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Faulkner, and Carver, among others. At least, not as written by them. Rather, my readers are reading the works of those authors as written by me. As covered by me. Literally, even, in that I selected the most-loved stories of well-regarded authors, retyped them, ordered them alphabetically, and then put them between new covers. Yes, covers with my name on them… but the stories are my takes on the originals, in the end, even if they are nearly verbatim reproductions.
I say nearly verbatim because, just as Uncle Stu will sometimes strum a C Major chord when a song technically calls for a C#m6, so too have I put my own unique twist on the material when I felt it was called for. I added a brief but tasteful sex scene to “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” for instance. I gave Bartleby (the Scrivener) a couple of other things to say (as well as giving him a brief but tasteful sex scene). And I provided an answer (the obvious one, to my mind) to the question posed at the end of “The Lady, or the Tiger?” (I won’t spoil it, but I can say that it involves some brief, tasteful jungle cat sex, maybe.)
The reviews, however, have not been kind. Either I’m a “shameless charlatan who is baldly — and badly — attempting to pass of the efforts of others as my own, despite that the works in question are some of the most famous in all of Western literature” or I’m an “audacious vandal who has defaced historical monuments with crudely depicted scenes of fornication, interposed at the most awkward narrative junctures” or I’m a “schmuck who needs to be thrown in jail with a copyright law textbook.” Unfortunately, it has become something of a full-time job responding to all of the negative reviews to explain that I think everyone has missed the point entirely. I would much rather be spending my time working on the sequel, A Few Joyce Words.