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Book Review: Fangasm, Supernatural Fangirls

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So Fangasm came out a couple weeks ago and I basically inhaled it from last night through today. It's not quite what I'd expected it to be--which was a fairly typical book of fandom and fan analysis--but what I got is way more fascinating--it's basically an acafan autobiography. What this means is it's 2/3 the authors discovering fandom, being fans, being in fandom, and 1/3 what all that means. This is rather more extraordinary than it may seem because the book is unflinching in its portrayal of fandom highs and lows, including:

*the joys of livejournal and comms
*the joys of reading and writing fic
*the pain of fanwank
*the pain of losing friendships to fanwank or fan controversy
*the pain that fandom can cause to families, including spouses who complain about wives overstaying cons or spending all that time on frivolity

And since it discusses SPN fandom, that means everything is pushed up 1000%. (I will admit, I love SPN, and I love fandom, but ngl, SPN fandom scares me as much if not more than Sherlock fandom does.)

As an acafan myself, a great deal of this book rings true and familiar, though I can also sense a fair bit of editing for safety went on. (References to the husband of one of the authors just disappear part way through the book, with a concluding reference to her new partner and nothing beyond that. This is for obvious reasons, and yet, the writer in me wants to know the rest of the story and the fan in me is worried how much the apparent dissolution of a marriage involved fandom.)

There's a LOT of talk about identities--as authors, as fans, as fan writers, as writers, as researchers, as academics, and their intersections and segregations. The authors discuss their own anxieties as they interact with other fans at cons as fans, with interacting with the show's authors/actors/producers and flirt with "legitimacy" when TPTB become interested in their book and the subsequent crashes when they "don't do fandom the right way" and alienate fan friends and lose their initial book contract because they weren't writing about fandom "the right way" for TPTB.

There is some discussion of how gender plays into these aspects that I think they could have gone much farther into as both fans and acafans, but what they do discuss is as true to life as it is frustrating.

I do think this book is a must have for anyone doing fan studies, if only because of its flipside--the authors did another book, Fandom at the Crossroads: Celebration, Shame and Fan/Producer Relationships last year that is a standard academic text. Together they tell a really great history of a specific fandom at a specific time from first hand perspectives.

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browngirl
Jan. 2nd, 2014 07:27 pm (UTC)
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