Rules for Remixing Novels
17-year old first time German novelist Helene Hegemann has published a rabidly successful book that is evidently one of the first shamelessly mashed-up, remixed, jammed and screwed novels, a book full of jolly plagiarized material and unsourced creative theft, most notably from an anonymous German blogger named Airen, but also with work stolen from people like Kathy Acker and Jim Jarmusch.

Hegemann evidently took entire passages from a book Airen published called "Strobo," a compilation of his drug-fueled blog posts, about having sex and being German in Berlin nightclubs ("speedficken")

From a story about Airen in "Der Spiegel":

"The writing fed on the partying, and the partying fed on the writing, until he became locked in a vicious circle of excess. At first he simply wrote about his nocturnal experiences, but very quickly he began doing things precisely so that he could blog about them. He took any kind of drugs he could lay his hands on, including ecstasy, speed, cocaine, heroin and ketamine. He also had sex with anyone he could lay his hands on, including men, women and transvestites, in the darkrooms of clubs like Berghain, in toilets, anywhere."

Hegemann put these stolen passages from Airen's life in her own novel, a book called "Axoltl Roadkill" which is now being hailed as a generation-defining piece of urban fiction, even though all the true stories are taken word-for-word from Airen.

Here's an interview with Hegemann on the German equivalent of "The Conan O' Brian Show":

Not only is Hegemann nur 17 jahre alt, she is also the daughter of some famous Berlin college professor. Technically, she is not even old enough to go to nightclubs or fuck transvestites. It was probably necessary for her to steal truth from this blogger Airen in order to write her novel. But then again, she is taking the credit and getting rich, while the now sober and married Airen is only getting "infamous."

The cynical fact is that people are only reading Hegemann's book for all the salacious details and scummy prose. Everybody wants to get inside the mind of a freewheeling 17-year-old nightclub lady!

But the salacious details and scummy prose are fabricated!

Then again, it IS fiction.

And didn't Ian McEwan do the same exact thing when he lifted passages from the memoirs (proto-blogs) of Lucilla Andrews, a nurse and romance novelist, for his book "Atonement?" And after everyone "raised eyebrows" about that, we gave him a free pass and shrugged. "What the hell."

Additionally, some of the same shit that happens in hip hop is happening here with these two books. Airen's "Strobo" is finally getting sales and recognition as a result of its inclusion in "Axoltl Roadkill." People are going for the real shit after hearing the fake pop shit, even though the fake pop shit has better production values.


1). Try and pay the person you are stealing from if they are alive and your book gets big. Share your wealth, motherfucker, or you might end up with two in the back of the head.
2). Credit your sources up front. As in "feat Aiden" or "feat Lucilla Andrews"
3). Don't steal shit you can't handle from people bigger and better than you. Don't steal shit without a reason. Sure, Diddy lifted Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" for "Come With Me" but a). he paid them for it and b). Led Zeppelin stole everything they ever did from Robert Johnson, and so this act was what is known as "revenge."
4). Get ready to have your own work stolen and remixed when you start doing this. Your karma is BROKEN.

My gut opinion:

Novels ought to be new. "Novel" means new. If you are one of those people who think there is nothing in art that has never been done before, then god help you. "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies," "Axoltl Roadkill," "Atonement": your shit is not fresh, and we are all gunning for you.

Posted by miracle on Mon, 22 Feb 2010 15:55:08 -0500 -- permanent link

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