The LA Times picked up a Bloomberg News report about still another literary lawsuit. Former Yale Law School researcher John Lott is claiming that Steven Levitt and HarperCollins Publishers Inc. damaged his reputation with the publication of Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything. In the book, Levitt writes that other scholars had been unable to duplicate Lott’s research on lower crime rates and the right to carry firearms. Lott claims this is assertion amounts to an allegation that he falsified results and that it tarnishes his reputation “in the eyes of the academic community in which he works, and in the minds of the hundreds of thousands of academics, college students, graduate students and members of the general public.”
I’m beginning to think that lawsuits are the literary equivalent of the rapper beef. There is a longstanding tradition of hip hop performers calling each other out on record in order to generate controversy. Sometimes this conflict is just a healthy rivalry, other times it is a dangerous tension. And occasionally, the beef is generated by a younger artist who is just trying to make a name for himself. Early on in his career, an up-and-coming 50 Cent took a swing at some of raps biggest names with his single How to Rob. The song detailed his plans for robbing those hip hop giants and when some of them responded on their own subsequent records, everyone knew the name 50 Cent.
Although I detest frivolous lawsuits, maybe this would work for more writers. I’m trying to decide which famous author I need to sue to generate buzz for my own career. Any ideas? Which big name would you pick out for your own purposes?