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08 December 2006

Brad Vice Reacts to Plagiarism Controversy in Alabama, USA

See Blogaulaire's Comment:

(Title is the LINK to quotes below:)
A Worse Vice

Remember Brad Vice, the Alabama native who had his book, The Bear Bryant Funeral Train, pulped and who was stripped of the Flannery O'Connor Award for short fiction after being accused of plagiarism? Well, he's got an essay defending his actions in the new issue of Oxford American, and after reading this quote I have a feeling that Mr. Vice might want to drive many a mile out of his way before crossing into the state of Alabama again:

Bear Bryant was always smiling from signs and billboards looming over the highway, and his houndstooth hat was painted on awnings, rooftops, and rotating signs. In this regard, it couldn't have been much different to grow up in Berlin in the 30's or Baghdad in the 90's. I almost called my book The Ayatollah of My Hometown.

Plagiarism is one thing but out-and-out stupidity (emphasis added) is another. If you're going to be selling your book to Alabama fans, people who for the most part put the Bear at the left hand of God Almighty, then you can't be calling him the Ayatollah and drawing even loose comparisons with Hitler and Saddam. It's a bad, bad idea. Trust me, I lived in the state (of Alabama) for too many years not to come away with a healthy respect for the things you can and cannot talk about. I think it was Eddie Murphy who once said that you can speak bad of me all you want but you best not talk bad about my mother. In Alabama, they don't care if you say bad things about Mom, but you damn sure better tip your houndstooth and pay all due respect to the Bear."


Blogaulaire comment:

I know little about this US-Alabama attack on this author Brad Vice because of his so-called plagiarism. It all strikes me as over-kill by the Alabama University Press and the media, I am glad the author writes in his own defence

What interests me most is how the blog owner at Syntax of Things thinks it a dumb faux pas to make nasty remarks by comparison about your home State (or Province in our Canadian case). The author in question here, Brad Vice, is Alabama born and Alabama bred. In Quebec we know this scenario all too well. There is a hell of a difference between talking about your own experience growing up in Quebec and just plain out and out dissing the other side of the (any, I guess) linguistic frontier.

In my comment on calling Vice 'stupid' for comparing Alabama to Iran under the Ayatollah or Berlin in the '30s, I try to reset the compass of another blogger. Anyone who feels like they are being railroaded by their homeland in the name of homeland identity cum security is very likely to engage in a few exaggerated comparisons with other forms of fascism. IMHO


Jeff said...

Thanks for the link. I think I need to explain, however, that it wasn't Vice's comparison of the state of Alabama to evil dictators that drew my ire (tongue-in-cheek as it may have been). Hell, I've said worse things about the state of Alabama. No, I'm referring to the fact that he draws a parallel, albeit loosely, between one of the state's most beloved figures, legendary college football coach Bear Bryant, and a dictator. See, you have to understand that in the South and in Alabama, college football is a religion and Bear is a saint. It's like the Canadian love of hockey on steroids. Anyway, Vice is certainly capable of defending his choice of words and I don't fault his courage, but one must understand that football fans in that state, not your most literate bunch to begin with, don't have much of a sense of humor when it comes to their football legend.

Blogaulaire said...

Since it is tongue-in-cheek (on a couple levels), and you are
zeroed in on Vice bashing the icon "legendary college football coach Bear
Bryant", if you and I are going to blog on this, that is where we should
take it.
If Vice were arrested in a demo against the occupation of
Afghanistan and Iraq held in Alabama, do you think they'd lock him up and throw
away the key tomorrow? Because of what he said about Bear Bryant or the
succour of terrorism (ha,ha . . as I weep).
Jeff, here's my due diligence. I, too, grew up in the States. In

All this reminds me of Tom Wolfs novel "A Man of Qualities." In
that book, Wolf bashes the idol-coach of his home state Georgia. The
novelist should not, cannot, all be Harper Lee's and write warm portrayals
like "To Kill a Mockingbird"; and in the process denounce mob-rule
racism and sticking the deranged relatives upstairs in the attic.

Please understand, Jeff, that I not only see your point but
understand where you are coming from. I'm not moralizing or judging; but it is
a topic I could run with for some distance in encouraging all the
icon-bashers along the way.

Thanks. I like reading and appreciate that you sharing your
fulltime role and transformation into a father. Give us more Polar snapshots - of the baby.