Vintage Viswanathan on 'Breakfast With the Arts'

A&E got nostalgic this weekend, rerunning the episode of Breakfast With the Arts from the halcyon days when Harvard sophomore Kaavya Viswanathan was not yet known as an uber-plagiarizer. The episode was done in two parts, the first featuring Kaavya reading from Opal Mehta (taped pre-scandal, of course) and then giving an interview; the second, an update on the story with the Observer's Sheelah Kolhatkar.

The passage that Viswanathan chose just happened to be one of her cribbed bits containing language taken from The Princess Diaries. Specifically, she read aloud, "Every inch of me had been cut, filed, steamed, exfoliated, polished, painted, or moisturized. I didn't look a thing like Opal Mehta..." (The Diaries passage reads, "There isn't a single inch of me that hasn't been pinched, cut, filed, painted, sloughed, blown dry, or moisturized. [...] Because I don't look a thing like Mia Thermopolis...") Who knew morning A&E was full of such high comedy?

A reader reports on the interview:

BWA:...the youngest to ever be assigned to a two-book deal for half a million dollars. True or false?
Kaavya: [stupid smirk] No comment.

BWA: Do you want to go into writing, you think?
K: I think eventually, I'd love to go into writing, but I don't really see writing as a full time job for me. It's something that I would do no matter what I was also working at in my day to day career. So I think why not have both?

BWA: How did you actually find the time to write this book?
K: It was a huge time commitment!

Earlier: Gawker's Coverage of Kaavya Viswanathan