Roadkill in Los Feliz

Last night I heard Helene Hegemann speak at Skylight books here in LA. If you recall, Hegemann is the young author who caused a kerfuffle last year with her novel Axolotl Roadkill when it was revealed that she had used an anonymous blogger’s words as her own. At the time, she didn’t show much remorse, and claimed it was simply “mixing” like a DJ would. She sounded like such a snotty teenager, so I was curious to hear her side of the story.

As of last night, her story seems to have changed a bit. She doesn’t claim to be “mixing” anymore. When someone asked about the scandal, she briefly explained that the controversy revolved around 30 words in her 208 page novel. I didn’t realize it was only 30 words. That’s not much. The press never divulged this minor detail. In fact, such a bruhaha ensued that it sounded like her entire novel had been taken from this man’s blog. This fact makes me rethink the whole thing. Perhaps there was a bit of — to borrow a German word — Schadenfreude involved in the situation. People were jealous of her success at age 19. Not to mention a young 19 year-old woman.

She was funny and self-effacing on one hand and mature and articulate on the other. Speaking in front of the small crowd at Skylight, she struck me as a precocious girl who found her voice early and had a bit of luck.

As it turns out, the guy (“Airen”) she borrowed these 30 words from seems to have benefitted from the situation. He now has a couple of novels published, so maybe all’s well that ends well. As for Axolotl Roadkill’s U.S. release, we are still waiting. Apparently, no American publishers were interested. However, Hegemann did let it slip that there might be a film.


~ by Valerie Palmer on June 16, 2011.

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