BOOKS: TELLING A WHOPPER

ACCUSED OF PLAGIARIZING ANOTHER'S LIFE IN HIS LAST NOVEL, DAVID LEAVITT TAKES LIBERTIES WITH HIS OWN

"I was in trouble," writes a fictional narrator named David Leavitt at the beginning of The Term Paper Artist, the first of three novellas contained in the real David Leavitt's new book, Arkansas (Houghton Mifflin; 198 pages; $23). Sure enough, in a vertiginous display of life imitating art imitating life, those words, plus some sexually explicit terms that follow, got the real Leavitt in trouble all over again. Edward Kosner, editor in chief of Esquire, abruptly canceled the scheduled appearance of The Term Paper Artist in the April issue, causing the magazine's fiction editor to resign in high dudgeon and fueling...

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