Apr. 17th, 2012

bagheera_san: (flower on book)
It's the first week of summer term. Among other things I'm teaching two tutorial classes for Intro to English Lit, and the students have to read Nick Hornby's "Juliet, Naked" for the section on novels. At first I questioned this choice and I had to force myself to start reading it today, because the blurb only said that it was about middle aged people and relationship problems and finding love/a purpose in life/questioning your choices, and that's exactly the kind of book I DON'T read.

No one told me that it was a book about online fandom!

Every few pages I go OMG GUYS at something. I'm only 40 pages in so I can't reccommend the book yet, but simply the fact that there is a novel about US amazes me. So far what's happened is that there's this thirty-something ex-Lit student, Annie, who is in a relationship with with college Lit teacher Duncan. Duncan is your typical oldschool male fan (into details, obsessively collecting, belittling Annie as "not an expert" while at the same time expecting her to respect his fannishness as a serious academic pursuit). A few years ago, he discovered the internet and since then, he has become something of a BNF. Annie thinks she has only a casual interest in the object of his fannishness, the musician Tucker Crowe, but then, because she begins to resent Duncan more and more, she writes her own post about the newest album in HIS INTERNET FORUM (which is mostly middle-aged men like him), directly contradicting his review of the album. Duncan is appalled and tells her she doesn't have a professional opinion, while Annie is surprised to discover how much she enjoys writing and being a critical fan.

I don't know how this is going to continue, but the portrayal of fandom, and of gender issues within fandom, is blowing my mind because it was the LAST thing I expected from this novel. Here, have some excerpts:

"And then the internet came along and changed everything [...] Until then, the nearest fellow fan had lived in Manchester, sixty or seventy miles away, and Duncan met up with him once or twice a year; now the nearest fans lived in Duncan's laptop, and there were hundreds of them, from all around the world, and Duncan spoke to them all the time."

Annie talking to a co-worker:

"'Tucker Crowe has his own website?'
'Everyone has their own website.'
'Is that true?'
'I think so. Nobody gets forgotten anymore. Seven fans in Australia team up with three Canadians, nine Brits and a couple dozen Americans, and somebody who hasn't recorded in twenty years gets talked about every day. It's what the internet's for. That and pornography [...]'
'How come you know so much about it? Are you one of the nine brits?'
'No. There are no women who bother. My, you know, Duncan is.'
[...]
'Sounds like I should buy that CD.'
'Don't bother. That's what gets me. I played it, and [Duncan]'s completely wrong. And for some reason I'm bursting to say so.'
'You should write your own review and stick it up next to his.'
'Oh, I'm not an expert. I wouldn't be allowed.'"

Sometimes it feels as if English Lit and fandom are secretly married to each other :) Or, you know, they're Bruce Wayne and Batman.

ETA:
There are fake wikipedia articles in the book, OMG. And Annie keeps checking her emails for comments, and now Tucker Crowe himself has commented on her review.

I wonder what fandom Nick Hornby hangs out in...
bagheera_san: (flower on book)
It's the first week of summer term. Among other things I'm teaching two tutorial classes for Intro to English Lit, and the students have to read Nick Hornby's "Juliet, Naked" for the section on novels. At first I questioned this choice and I had to force myself to start reading it today, because the blurb only said that it was about middle aged people and relationship problems and finding love/a purpose in life/questioning your choices, and that's exactly the kind of book I DON'T read.

No one told me that it was a book about online fandom!

Every few pages I go OMG GUYS at something. I'm only 40 pages in so I can't reccommend the book yet, but simply the fact that there is a novel about US amazes me. So far what's happened is that there's this thirty-something ex-Lit student, Annie, who is in a relationship with with college Lit teacher Duncan. Duncan is your typical oldschool male fan (into details, obsessively collecting, belittling Annie as "not an expert" while at the same time expecting her to respect his fannishness as a serious academic pursuit). A few years ago, he discovered the internet and since then, he has become something of a BNF. Annie thinks she has only a casual interest in the object of his fannishness, the musician Tucker Crowe, but then, because she begins to resent Duncan more and more, she writes her own post about the newest album in HIS INTERNET FORUM (which is mostly middle-aged men like him), directly contradicting his review of the album. Duncan is appalled and tells her she doesn't have a professional opinion, while Annie is surprised to discover how much she enjoys writing and being a critical fan.

I don't know how this is going to continue, but the portrayal of fandom, and of gender issues within fandom, is blowing my mind because it was the LAST thing I expected from this novel. Here, have some excerpts:

"And then the internet came along and changed everything [...] Until then, the nearest fellow fan had lived in Manchester, sixty or seventy miles away, and Duncan met up with him once or twice a year; now the nearest fans lived in Duncan's laptop, and there were hundreds of them, from all around the world, and Duncan spoke to them all the time."

Annie talking to a co-worker:

"'Tucker Crowe has his own website?'
'Everyone has their own website.'
'Is that true?'
'I think so. Nobody gets forgotten anymore. Seven fans in Australia team up with three Canadians, nine Brits and a couple dozen Americans, and somebody who hasn't recorded in twenty years gets talked about every day. It's what the internet's for. That and pornography [...]'
'How come you know so much about it? Are you one of the nine brits?'
'No. There are no women who bother. My, you know, Duncan is.'
[...]
'Sounds like I should buy that CD.'
'Don't bother. That's what gets me. I played it, and [Duncan]'s completely wrong. And for some reason I'm bursting to say so.'
'You should write your own review and stick it up next to his.'
'Oh, I'm not an expert. I wouldn't be allowed.'"

Sometimes it feels as if English Lit and fandom are secretly married to each other :) Or, you know, they're Bruce Wayne and Batman.

ETA:
There are fake wikipedia articles in the book, OMG. And Annie keeps checking her emails for comments, and now Tucker Crowe himself has commented on her review.

I wonder what fandom Nick Hornby hangs out in...

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