CBR #87 – Awk-WORD

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

It’s funny when you go to cons and you see the various nerd cadres.  Now there’s plenty of cross-over.  But you might see a gaggle of steampunks, a horde of pastel-haired anime fans clutching massive weaponry, or even a few stormtroopers.  Fandom has it’s fans.

I guess I never considered myself as big of a Harry Potter geek as I truly was.  When I worked at the bookstore for the release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, I dressed up as Hagrid.  When the sixth book came out, I wasn’t even working at the bookstore, but I was around town, and agreed to appear as Hagrid, provided they gave me a free copy of the Half-Blood Prince.  And I happened to be working in LA at the release of the final book, also dressed as Hagrid.  Now, I never dressed up for the movie releases.  But I totally went to a few midnight showings.  (Actually, I’m pretty sure it’s what soured me on midnight releases. I like to hear dialogue.  Not wolf whistles and loud clapping when a character appears on screen.)  But yeah, I’d call out of work to finish the books in one night.  And I’d re-read them before each subsequent release — something I’ve taken up with the ASOIAF series.

Also, Steven Wilson and I went to the Twilight Fan Fiction panel, which was fascinating to listen to.  There are people who truly just write porn to get their rocks off.  But there are people who legitimately love these characters and want to bend the world to their will.  E.L. James was there, and she was the least impressive speaker of the batch.  And she coddled her fandom into a multi-million dollar sockfuck.

So it was interesting to see what Rowell does with Fangirl.  Twin sisters headed off to college and one isn’t handling it well.  They write fanfic for Simon Snow — a Harry Potter cum Twilight fantasy series that’s facing down its final book.  I always felt for the kids who started the series when Harry was ten and so were they.  When that last book came out, they were in their twenties, but no less spellbound.  And fanfiction is strange animal.  It worked for the story.

But the characters were doing it for me.  I really didn’t feel for Cath, or Wren, or Levi or Reagan or any of the characters.  I was glad for someone to finally put in print the whole grossness of craving twins.  You’re essentially asking two girls to commit incest.  Maybe you fuck your sister.  Most people don’t.  Nebraska.  But the whole writer writing about writing thing got a bit on the nose, and the drama this time through felt more manufactured.  Not into the great wide world of afterschool special, but it was just a whole lot to deal with. What worked in Eleanor & Park, and to the same extent in Attachments, just wasn’t doing it for me in this one.  And it’s strange, because Rowell’s next release is going to be Carry On, which is essentially the fictional story that Cath writes in Fangirl.  It’s going to extremely meta, that’s for damn sure.

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