RARA-AVIS: I, Witness

From: Jiro Kimura ( jkimura@nsknet.or.jp)
Date: 14 Nov 2000

>In my post "Plunder Road/Squad" I mentioned an MWA anthology with a Westlake
>piece that refers to Lionel White. A key fact I failed to state is that this
>anthology was true crime. Thus the European gang following the White book
>plot in the Westlake piece was very real.
>Richard Moore

The MWA anthology Richard Moore was talking about is I, WITNESS (1978) edited by Brian Garfield. Westlake talked about the difference between stealing from other writers' ideas (which is not okay) and "stealing" from actural events (which is okay). In this article/essay, Westlake admits that every writer (including Westlake himself) "steals" ideas from others -- writers and non-writers -- more or less.

These actual kidnappers of a Peugeot kid stole the idea of kidnapping a baby from Lionel White's THE SNATCHERS (1953). Stealing the idea of kidnapping for the actual operation is not a plagiarism (it is a federal crime), but stealing the idea for writing a book is a plagiarism. However, writing a book based on the actual event, which has been based on another writer's book, is NOT a plagiarism.

You will know what it means in Donald Westlake's JIMMY THE KID, where Richard Stark the writer tries to sue the kidnapped kid for stealing Stark's idea, but the smart kid has made a movie out of the "actual snatch," which has been based on Stark's idea. Very complicated and confusing, but interesting.

Jiro Kimura
********************************************* Jiro Kimura Kanazawa, JAPAN e-mail: jkimura@nsknet.or.jp The Gumshoe Site (http://www.nsknet.or.jp/~jkimura/)

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