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TheFangirl

The Fangirl

Long time geek, fangirl, mother, and reader. I've got a lot to say, you might not like it all, but it will be honest and hopefully helpful.

He called her Coco, short for Coconut. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?

Taken by Storm - Tamara Mataya

I should have know this wasn't going to work when the white man lead called the polynesian woman lead "heavenly flower" in the first sentence of the book. Ryan's a fireman in a small town, I am weak and I love these tropes, so I pushed on and was hopeful it would get better. Sadly, it only got worse.

When we got into Leilani's POV we learned how she was confronted with ignorant shit her first day at school. When she's asked "What are you?" I could related to it, sure, but there's a real cheesy After School Special feel to how it's all presented. One of the kids asks Leilani if she's Hawaiian, and she corrects them by saying she's polynesian. Huh? Oh but it got worse.

Leilani explains that her name means "heavenly flower." So Ryan's line makes sense, kinda. But then Leilani goes on to say the actual translation is "heavenly lei" as in the ceremonial necklace of flowers called a lei, and how she didn't tell anyone because she didn't want them calling her a heavenly lay. *cue the laugh track*

Oh yeah, and her nickname in high school, which Ryan uses twice, is Coco, short for coconut.

Let me take a deep breath before explain all the ways this is fucking wrong.

Pro tip: Coconut is a racist slur used in MANY cultures to denote a non-black person of color who is inauthentic, i.e. brown on the outside and white on the inside.

Also, polynesians like many indigenous people don't usually self identify in homologous terms. That is to say, when I'm speaking in a general terms I might say I'm a woman of color, or polynesian, or biracial. But if asked a specific question like "are you Hawaiian" I would respond, "I'm Tongan." Leilani choosing to identify as polynesian makes no sense, and makes me wonder if the author even knows any polynesian women in real life. I mean like actually talked with them like they're people, and not that she had one take her order at a restaurant or taught her how to dance the hula while she was on vacation.

As for Leilani's name, a literal translation of it in English could be heavenly flower, contextually however it is completely inaccurate. Leilani is a combination of two Hawaiian words that have multiple meanings that are highly dependent on context of how they're being used. Lei could mean anything from flower to child. Lani can mean anything from heavenly to royal (this translation is a post-colonial one, as Hawaiian's didn't view class or religion in this way until Christians missionaries arrived in the islands).

So one possible, and far more accurate translation of the name Leilani is Princess or Blessed child. Why not flower? Because Leilani is a fucking human being, not a plant.

Looking back I can see how the author googled the name, found the first (most common) translation and immediately thought of the sexually objectifying joke that made her laugh. Because polynesian names are only worth using if you can make a joke out of them. Just like casting a polynesian girl in your erotica romance is only worth doing if you can sexualize her, and make jokes about her culture that make ignorant white people laugh at her expense.

I was willing to look past the white washed cover because the lack of ethnic diversity in stock images and models used for cover art is a systemic problem in all media, but especially so in publishing. Since most authors get little say over the cover art I wasn't going to make assumptions about the content based on the racist cover. ETA: Apparently the author "put a lot of effort" into trying to find a stock image with a polynesian girl for the cover, too bad she didn't put in the work on her portrayal of Polynesian women in the book too.

However in this case, I only needed to read 10% into the book to be sure that the book is racist both inside and out. This is the literary equivalent of a white woman dressing up like a hula girl and acting out a fetishized fantasy, getting off on the racist sexualized stereotypes of the "exotic island girl." Much in the same way white woman dress up as "sexy geishas" on Halloween.

Even if this wasn't a gross racist fetishizing trash, it was still a poorly written erotica. The pacing is rushed, the dialogue is boring and poorly placed. They have an long detailed conversation in the middle of fucking that threatened to put me to sleep. The sex scene was also rushed and had a lame fucking joke shoehorned in that fell flat. All Shafts, thrusting and slick nubs. Meh.

I'm returning this book to Amazon and demanding my money back. I can't recommend it to anyone. I certainly don't recommend it to any polynesian women.

Where I challenge readers, bloggers, and authors to do better in 2015.

Things We Can Do Better in 2015

 

The book world had highs and lows in 2014. While it’s wonderful to celebrate the great moments of the past year, it is also important to learn from our mistakes. The world of literature and book blogging has had some serious stumbles. Here is a list of things we think that could be done better in the coming year.

 

Call out coded sexism in discussions about YA, Romance, and Erotica.

 

“Mommy porn, smut, and adult readers of YA” have all been sneered at women by judgmental outsiders, and a few insiders struggling with internalized prejudice. If you’re a woman in any part of the literary community you’ve been judge whether on your qualifications, authority, or simply on the books you choose to read. It needs to end.

It is 2015, women have been on and at the top of the best sellers list in numerous genres for decades. We shouldn’t have to prove ourselves, especially not in genres where we are the majority both as authors and readers. We certainly shouldn’t have to put up with backward, sexist media that wants to shove us back into the kitchen or sitting rooms, or shame us over our sexuality. Women of all ages like sex, like to read and write about it. There is nothing wrong with this, no matter the genre. We need to call out conversations that are coded ways to undermine women’s authority and autonomy to write and read whatever we want.

 

Read More at Bibliodaze

Source: http://bibliodaze.com/2014/12/things-we-can-do-better-in-2015

Radio Silence by Alyssa Cole: SO GOOD!

Radio Silence - Alyssa B. Cole

I've read 50%.

 

Black girl as the main character? YES!

 

Korean man as a romantic lead? HELL YES!

 

 

The UST between these two is KILLING ME!

 

I'm loving this so much I don't have time to update, because I just want to keep reading. 


Someone come sing my kids to sleep so I can read more! 

 

 

Bibliodaze Best & Worst of 2014!

Reblogged from The Book Lantern:

Team Bibliodaze share the best and worst books of 2014. Come share your thoughts with us! 

Power and Privilege in Book Blogging: Dear Author Do Better!

 

Recently there was a conflict in the book reviewing blogosphere, involving contributors and the head of the book blog Dear Author, and their friend Ann Somerville targeting a author and book reviewer. If you unfamiliar with the conflict Alexis Hall gives a great rundown of the timeline and details. If you want a brief summary scroll to the bottom of the post.

 

I'm writing this post because I want to address some popular misconceptions swirling around this conflict, and explain why I felt compelled to call out Robin (known as

@redrobinreader on Twitter) specifically for her public targeting a gay man of color, on Twitter.

 

On the surface, it would appear that the conflict between Sunita (@sunita_p), a cis woman of color and Julio (@agenao), a gay cis man of color, is a parallel conflict. Robin, a cis white woman, has even argued that Julio is privileged as an author, while Sunita is a “not-for-profit” blogger and book reviewer, but this framing of the situation is misleading.

 

While a famous, best selling author can often have far more privilege and power that most book reviewers, Sunita is not just any reviewer and Julio isn't JK Rowling. The reality is that Sunita has significantly more situational privilege, created by her position at Dear Author and her powerful, privileged allies. Meanwhile Juilo’s position in publishing and the m/m romance community, not to mention as a gay man of color, is significantly lesser.  

 

Sunita is a regular contributor to Dear Author, she has a larger network of friends, both authors and book bloggers. She is well respected, and much loved by many in book blogging circles, many of these people are women (many are white and heterosexual) in places of significant influence not just in the m/m romance, but in the wide Romance community. She has many powerful, privileged allies, who specifically in this incident acted on her behalf. That’s power, a lot more power than Julio has, as we’ve seen first hand in how Sunita’s privileged friends have been attempting to shape the narrative in her favor.

 

While many will try to muddy the waters, claiming Julio is an "agent" of author KJ Charles. Alexis's post proves those to be baseless allegations. Those who continue to maintain this lie only reflect negatively upon themselves. After all, what does it say about them that they would rather ignore a gay man of color's autonomy to have his own opinion, in favor of viewing him as a puppet controlled by a white woman? (This is what I mean when I say he's being dehumanized.) 

 

So what we have here is a group of primarily white cis heterosexual women actively dehumanizing and harassing a gay man of color.

 

Ironic, considering this is happening in the m/m romance community, a genre where publishing disproportionately favors cis white women authors, despite the focus of the genre primarily being on gay men. A small amount of research will show that the majority of best selling m/m romance authors and book bloggers are cis white women, despite the fact that there are a lot of gay and trans men writing and reading in the genre.

 

It is an indisputable fact that cis white heterosexual women occupy seats of power in the m/m romance genre. While, I’ve seen many of these women take their responsibility and privilege very seriously, many championing LGBTQA+ charities and actively engage in social justice. There are those who do not recognize how powerful, and potentially dangerous they can be to LGBTQA+ people.

 

That was never more apparent than in the case of Dear Author’s post about a m/m romance author coming out as a trans man. Trigger Warning: Transphobia http://dearauthor.com/features/industry-news/tuesday-midday-news-aj-llewellyn-admits-adopting-male-persona-despite-being-female/

 

It’s important to understand, that while women do experience oppression and marginalization, they can still be privileged in situations with men, especially in cases where cis heterosexual white women are in positions of power among LGBTQA+ people. Even when marginalized people are in conflict with each other their friends and allies need to take their own privilege into account before getting involved.

 

A privilege person walking into a parallel conflict between marginalized people is bringing a gun to a fist fight, someone other than them will get hurt, maybe even the friend they were trying to protect.

 

Marginalize people can easily and even unintentionally weaponize our allies against other marginalized people, sometimes just by having public disagreements. This happens because our friends and allies often see us as extensions of themselves. They view attacks on us, as an attack on them, and can view their action against another marginalized person as justified because they’re doing it in our name. This can also blind them to how their own internalized bigotry might be driving their actions and quick judgements in the situation. 

 

As a marginalized person I’m actively trying to take this into account when dealing with other marginalized people. I recognize that I need educate my friends, and even warn them away if I get into parallel conflicts. I don’t need my friends to protect me, but more importantly I shouldn't leverage the privilege of our friendship against marginalize people. That's not what friendships is about.

 

I do think it’s important for privilege people to call each other out, that is how allies are supposed to help us. To back us against other privileged people, but they should also strive to NOT attack people with less privilege than themselves, even when they don’t like those people. Even when those people might be attacking their friends, people need to be cognizant of how their privileges and how the minute they walk into the conflict it becomes an unfair and even dangerous situation.

 

Side note: If you ask a privilege friend to stay out of a conflict and they attack other marginalized people in your name anyway, end the friendship immediately. That sounds harsh, but most likely that person isn’t a real friend or ally. They are probably using their relationships with you to justify targeting marginalized people, and soon enough you’ll end up on their hit list.

 

In this case, a woman of color, Sunita, made an unsubstantiated allegation against a gay man of color. He defended himself, and Sunita’s privileged friends harassed him on her behalf. While Sunita’s actions are extremely problematic, they do not justify or excuse the actions of privilege women who CHOSE to target and vilifying a gay man of color in a public forum.


AnnSomerville (
@ann_somerville), Robin, and many others are guilty of using their privileged positions, not just in m/m romance, but in the literary blogging community and social media, to unfairly target a less privileged person. Worse yet, they maintain the lie that began this entire conflict, see Jane Litte (a cis het woman of color and head of Dear Author blog) who is continuing to dehumanize and discredit Julio publicly, on Twitter. Even going so far as to not-so-subtly accuse Julio and myself of “playing the race card” to cover for his “fake review.”

 

The fact that Litte spoke out on this issue without doing even the smallest amount of research, like asking the parties involve if they are friends, is only worsening an already terrible situation, and continuing to make Julio a target of harassment. It would be so much easier to acknowledge the mistake everyone made and apologize, but so far that doesn’t seem likely.

 

So where does that leave us? Well, for me until Somerville, Sunita, Robin, and Dear Author apologize for their actions I can’t trust them as allies and I can’t view Dear Author as a safe space for anyone, but them and their friends. I’ve unfollowed them, but maintain the hope they will make things right.

 

I will be preparing an email to send to Dear Author, urging them to look into the situation further, and publicly apologize for their involvement. Once it is done I will also post it publicly on here and Tumblr. I urge you to do the same.

 

You can leave an message on their site here. http://dearauthor.com/contact-us/

 

Or contact them via social media:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DearAuthor

Twitter: @dearauthor

 

Until they apologize, I’m going to stick to the LGBTQA+ book bloggers and authors I know, and seek out more to add to my list of safe places where we have a voice and are shown respect. Feel free to share your recommendations for LGBTQA+ friendly book bloggers and book recommendation sites. I’m putting together a big post with everyone I follow and recommend, and would love to add your recommendations.

 

Thank you for your time and support.

 

J

 

 ETA: After some thought I wanted to come back and really emphasize something VERY important to remember. Yes she did post baseless accusations, and feel free to hold her responsible for that. However, she is NOT responsible for the choices made by Ann Somerville, Robin, and even Jane Litte, among many others, to attack Julio on social media. These are grown women, who made and continue to make the choice to target a gay man of color. 

 

DO NOT attack or hold Sunita responsible for the actions of her privileged friends and supporters. They, and they alone are responsible for their own actions. She is not. 

 

 

~~~~

A quick summary of the conflict is:

 

Ann Somerville (author and blogger) wrote a post addressing a flaw in how KJ Charles’ book Think of England dealt with racism.

 

Sunita (book reviewer and contributor to Dead Author) posted a companion piece on her personal blog wherein she accuses Julio Alexi Genao (author and book reviewer) of “gaming the system” on GoodReads in order to support KJ Charles. Sunita believed, without any supporting evidence, that Julio was a fan/friend of Charles, and asserted that his alleged actions were an example of “bankrupt critical culture.” As it turns out this was not the case at all, Julio just liked the book and his review happened to be at the top of the book’s profile page on GoodReads.

 

Someone notified Julio about Sunita’s post and accusation, via the comments on his review. He and several of his friends had a lively dialogue about the accusations, as well as the tone of both Sunita and Ann’s posts.

 

Ann and Sunita saw the conversation happening in the comments of Julio’s review, and took to Twitter to share all the unsavory things being said about them by Julio and the other commentaries. Then both women deleted their Twitter accounts, and Sunita set her blog to private.

 

Believing Sunita’s false allegation, that Julio was a friend/fan of KJ Charles, Robin L. (contributor to Dear Author) called out Charles on Twitter, linking directly to Julio’s GoodRead’s review, and demand she put a stop to Julio’s actions. Charles replied to Robin’s allegation saying she had no knowledge of what had happened, and that it was her policy to not comment on reviews.

 

At this point, I replied to Robin, because I had only see her part of the greater scope of harassment. I called her out for targeting Julio, a gay man of color, by publicly linking his review on Twitter, explaining she needed to take her privilege into account before putting a marginalized person in the line of fire. Robin maintained that since she was defending a person of color, Sunita, she was not in the wrong and then claimed that Julio had more power than Sunita who was a “not-for-profit” blogger.

 

Jane Litte (head of Dear Author), having been looped into many of these conversations, tweeted out maintained Sunita’s false narrative that Julio was a “butt hurt” fan boy, and subtweeted that "Using race and victimization as a stick to attack someone who doesn't like fake reviews is pretty despicable.”

 

Currently (12/23/14) neither Ann Somerville, nor Sunita have returned to Twitter. Sunita’s blog remains set to private. Jane Litte and Robin maintain their stance, and Julio is still a target of harassment.

Being a Critical Fan

 

 

Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcHRR8z1MLM

Very relevant right now. 

Internalized Misogyny...

Reviewer uses content warning for f/f and f/f/m sex, but says nothing about the child prostitution and rape in the book.

 

A Quick Note About Trigger/Content Warnings.

Trigger/Content Warnings are meant to announce the presence of content that might illicit a strong or potentially harmful emotional response. They are used for things like rape, incest, blood, and animal death. Demanding that authors warn readers about characters' sexual orientations, certain kinds of sexuality, or non-binary genders, etc in the same way we treat traumatizing things like rape implies they are equally damaging, when they are ABSOLUTELY NOT!

 

Trigger/Content Warnings were not meant to be used as a laundry list of content that readers' dislikes and demand authors warn them away from. Not liking to read about oral sex, or not being interested in reading about lesbians is not remotely the same as wanting to avoid being trigger by graphic violence or pedophilia. It's insulting to ever put these things on the same level. 

 

An author writing in a genre you don't like has no obligation to inform you away from their work if it doesn't contain anything harmful. 

 

If you suffer from the misconception that everyone is cis, heterosexual and monogamous unless they explicitly state otherwise that's YOUR problem. You have no right to demand other people accommodate your ignorance.

 

For more detailed info Trigger/Content Warnings go here:

Fixing the Problematic Legacy of Romance/Erotica: Polyamory is NOT Cheating

I just finished two fantastic books featuring bisexuality and polyamory, while also having a central f/m couple as the focus of the love story. The books are Alisha Rai’s A Gentleman in the Street and Kit Rocha’s Beyond Shame. They are fantastic and I highly recommend them both.

 

While I’ve been browsing through what other readers have said about these book I found a review for one that was essentially a huge trigger warning for “cheating.” I understand why this person felt compelled to post this review, but it doesn’t lessen the sting of someone mischaracterization your sexuality as an act of betrayal.

 

So let’s just address this right here and right now. Just as heterosexuality isn’t the default for everyone in the world, neither should it be in stories about love and sex. Likewise monogamy is not the default for everyone in the world. Nor should it be presumed to be the ideal in stories about love and sex.

 

Consensual sex between multiple adults is not cheating, whether or not everyone is participating in the touching or sexual intercourse. It’s just sex. And in the case of these two books it is polyamory.

 

“Polyamory is the practice, desire, or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved.” [source]

 

Beyond the wikipedia definition, polyamory isn’t just a relationships status. It’s an aspect of many people’s sexuality, whether or not they are actively in a polyamorous relationships in real life. Human sexuality is far more diverse than the simple boy meets girl narrative that dominates romance and erotica.

 

“What about properly labeling/shelving books? Isn’t this like marking BDSM, f/f, m/m, etc?” Shouldn’t people who could see it as cheating be warned?”

 

Just because monogamous people have the privilege of being portrayed as the norm in most romance and erotic doesn’t mean they should be catered to in ALL books, especially in books that aren’t about them.

 

This is a big problem we all need to discuss in every genre of literature. Just because the literary landscape has been dominated by a small group of people (heterosexual, white men) does NOT mean that every book written must take their perspective into account. That’s not diversity, that’s the exact opposite.

 

While labeling poly, bisexuality, homosexuality, people of color, etc as a subgenres in Romance/Erotica is a practice often totted as a helpful distinction, a way to to spotlight diverse stories. That can be true. However the execution of that labeling is deeply problematic.

 

Namely that there are no cis, vanilla, heterosexual or monogamous subgenre labels in any genre of literature. 

 

More often than not these subgenre distinctions are meant to slot diverse stories as “other.” To call them out as different, and not “the norm.” Which implies that cis, vanilla, heterosexual, monogamy is the default or ideal way to love and have sex. This is bullshit, and a subtle form of erasure.

 

Erotica and Romance are not genres restricted to just stories about cis, vanilla, heterosexual people in monogamous relationships. Bisexual people, trans people, gay people, polyamorous couples, interracial/multicultural relationships are all part of these genres. We deserve to stand shoulder to shoulder with you in real life, and our stories deserve to be shelved right along side yours in book stores and libraries, not pushed off into shadowy corners like dirty secrets.

 

My sexuality is NOT your kink. While you might enjoy the idea of bisexuality and polyamory as a fun, sexy fantasy that does not give you a right to define my sexuality as wrong just because it makes you uncomfortable. Even more important do not contribute to damaging bigotry in order to accommodate other people's ignorance. Doing so values their ignorance over my dignity.

 

You wouldn’t put trigger warnings a m/m romance because two men kiss, because you understand that there is nothing wrong with the act of two men kissing. So too there is nothing wrong with consenting adults having sex whether their a couple or a group. Consent is the important distinction, even if the sexual intercourse is happening between a husband and another man. If his partner is aware and consents it’s not cheating.

 

Whether you agree with it or not, it is not your place to define or judge someone else's sexuality.

 

Polyamory isn’t ugly or wrong, it is simply different than monogamy. It is no less beautiful or resonant for MANY people, whether or not they are polyamorous themselves. Love and sex takes all kinds of amazing shapes.

 

Don’t you dare put yourself in a place of judgement upon other people's sexuality. Even if it’s strange to you. Stay in your fucking lane and out my sexuality.

 

I've read 24%: It's getting hot in here...

A Gentleman in the Street - Alisha Rai
  • Jacob No! ARG!
  • He's in a suit. That was the sound of my panties being flung across the room.
  • Sweet baby Cthulhu! That escalated quickly.
  • "Fuck her." 
  • "Now we can forget it. Well. You can try." 
  • No time to update. Too busy knitting a super hero cape for Akira because she fucking rocks! I was punching the air every time she spoke. Imagine I found a gif of her standing in front of 10 foot tall neon sign that says "FLAWLESS"
  • "It didn't matter he hadn't intended it. What mattered was how he had made her feel." BOOM! Thank you. Also love Jacob's brothers, Connor and Ben.

I've read 18%: Smexy Times

A Gentleman in the Street - Alisha Rai

"Don't let anyone hear you."

 

 

"...tugging him away from her pussy. He snarled at her..."

 

 

"...he shifted and inadvertently rasped his beard over he sensitive flesh."

 

 

Jacob has a beard. Hold on readjusting mental image...

I've read 13%: All the flails

A Gentleman in the Street - Alisha Rai

 Thanks to this opening scene the role of Jacob will be played (in my head) by Chris Evans.

  • "Don't be a type, girl." - Amen! I love Akira so much.
  • Amira's a great example of how to switch up a trope into something I can not only dig, but identify with. She maybe rich, but she's also intelligent, confident and unapologetically sexual. I can believe she's a savvy business woman. She is no "poor little rich girl." Me like.
  • The UST between these two is fogging up my glasses and how Jacob chooses to "handle" it almost killed me. Sweet baby Cthulhu this book is HOT!
  • Googling gas huffing. Bwahahaha
  • Men who are vocally against slut shaming has now been added to my list of turn ons. *drools*
  • Akira is a an awesome boss. I hope we get to meet Kim.
  • "He was the one who twitched, his finger gliding over her lower lip, coming to a rest against the center. Acting on instinct, her tongue flicked out, making contact with his skin."                

DNF - Pretty Cover, Poor Execution

Tear You Apart - Sarah Cross

I got drawn in by the pretty cover. Too bad the story couldn't keep my interest. *sigh*

Like a mash up of Grime, Once Upon a Time, and True Blood, as promised by the book summary. Too bad the story fails in the execution. I didn't realize it was the second book in a series, though it didn't feel like I was missing out since there was a bunch of info dumping and constant over explaining of EVERYTHING! I should have guessed I wouldn't like this because most version of Snow White dilute it down to slut shaming and worshiping whiteness. This one is not an exception.

I have yet to find any of these new reimagined fairytale that don't disappointment.

DNF- meh

Upside Down - Lia Riley

This is fairly well written though the are times when it is working WAY too hard. For example: "She gazes at me like an implacable jury forewoman, about to pronounce a verdict of guilt." It feels forced and pulls me right out of the story. Stuff like this is all through out the story, along with countless other New Adult cliches that made me roll my eyes and wonder when the slut shaming and inevitable "misunderstanding" were going to happen.

It's tropey as hell, which isn't a bad thing in my book, but said none of these tropes are ones I like. In fact, they're ones I loathe. Namely "poor little rich girl" is the worst. I own that *I* have a REALLY hard time caring at all about someone with enough money to just drop everything and fly half way around the world to runaway from their problems.

Despite these nitpicks I think the story has some good points. So really me and this book are just not a good fit.

 

Privileged Perspective of Fan Fiction and Fandom.

Fic: Why Fanfiction is Taking Over the World - Lev Grossman, Tiffany Reisz, Rachel Caine, Jen Zern, Heidi Tandy, Rukmini Pande, Samira Nadkarni, Wendy C. Fries, Jolie Fontenot, Randi Flanagan, Tish Beaty, Cyndy Aleo, Christina Lauren, V. Arrow, Brad Bell, Andrew Shaffer, Darren Wershler, Anne Jamison, Jules Wilkinson, R

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review.

 

Trigger Warning: Transphobia, I use a quote from the book where the author (Anne Jamison) misgenders transmen.

 

Additional Disclosure: I am mentioned in this book in the acknowledgements. I believe this was done to give the false impression that I’m on friendly terms with the author. In actuality I have a lot of issues with the author’s conduct both in gathering data for and writing of this book. The details of this dispute can be found here.

 

Review Proper

I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book that extend beyond my own personal experience with the author. It starts with the title and the assumptions it makes about the actual impact fan fiction has had on mainstream culture. Which doesn’t take such a blatant shape or scope the author tries really hard to convince us it does. All this aside the book has a poor construction. There are many really informative and fascinating individual essay that are mired in the authors ham-fisted attempts to string them together in a very specific narrative she’s chosen for them, but no matter how hard she tries they never quite fit. Leaving the reader with an scatter, often incoherent mess to sort out on their own.

 

From the start of the book seems to contradict the promise made by the title. While Lev Grossman’s forewords are well written and informative they’re be better suited for an introduction to fan fiction and fan culture, something this book fails to provide. Instead the book drops the reader head first into the world of fan fiction with very little help them guide the reader.

 

One of the biggest flaws of this book is it’s purposeful exclusion of hugely influential fandoms, Anime/manga in particular. In Jamison’s own words: “I’ve largely restricted the discussion to literary-and media-based fandoms, thereby excluding a number of vast, productive areas such as anime and sports.” This implies that anime, which includes magna a literary art form that actually predates Western comic books, is neither literature or media-based. This is not only wrong, but insulting. This kind of blatant ignorance about fan culture sets the tone for the entire book.

 

Fic presents a distinctly lopsided representation of fandoms. The majority of the contributors are actors, published authors, and a fan/fan fic writer with significant notoriety within their given fandoms (aka BNA/BNF, big name authors/big name fans). The fandom equivalent of the 1%, who are on first name basis with content creators or have even crossed over become published authors themselves. While these makes for great stories, they don’t represent the majority of fan fiction readers/writers or fandom in general. Not to mention that the majority of contributors (and the author herself) are educated, white, middle class women. That privilege shows in the book, specifically in how Jamison whitewashes the entire timeline and history of fan fiction.

 

Don’t even get me started on Jamison’s laughable attempts at trying to turn feminism into a shield to deflect legitimate criticism privileged, white female fan fiction authors like E.L. James and Cassandra Clare. A task easily done if you ignore the significant amount of women of color in fandom, but there’s no room for intersectional feminism in this book. Not surprising there’s also very little time and spotlight shone on the voices of POC in general or even the LGBTQ+ community. In fact, most of the discussion of slash/femslash (fan fiction featuring LGBTQ+ characters and themes) is mostly discussed by het, white women. That is not to say that there aren’t some POC and LGBTQ+ contributors, but their inclusion is a token effort at best. One that doesn’t outweigh the purposeful erasure of the significant influence that the LGBTQ+ community and media from non-white countries has had on ALL fandoms.

 

Jamison attempts to shift the blame for this lack of diversity on to marginalized people, claiming she “approached a disproportionate number of *self-identified men and people of color” and that they “declined to participate for a variety of reasons, including professional concerns and simply time.”

 

This is the most irresponsible non-excuse I’ve ever seen. I seriously doubt any college professor would accept a similar excuse from one of their students. [As a bisexual woman of color in fandom I can assure you there is a lot more to those "variety of reasons" than Jamison is letting on.]

 


*Special Note: The phrase “self-identified men” is transphobic. If some identifies as a man you call them a man. Qualifiers like this are disrespectful and damaging. Don’t ever do this.

 

Jamison goes to great extents to acquit herself of even the most basic responsibilities required to respectfully represent the literature of a subculture. Proclaiming she isn’t a anthropologist and saying she is examining fan fiction from an "literary perspective," which sounds good if you know nothing about critical analysis. Imagine writing a book about Victorian literature that makes absolutely not mention of how cultural attitudes of Victorian England and the Industrial Revolution influenced the genre. Likewise FAN fiction is a genre born out of FAN culture. To ignore the subculture that created this literature, or in this case selectively acknowledging only certain parts of that culture, isn’t examining it from a literary perspective at all.

Because of this lack of true understanding of the culture much of the information in the essays written by Jamison are laughably useless. There were times where I felt like the book was written but the SNL character “drunk girl you wish you hadn’t started talking to at the party.” This is not an exaggeration.

 

 

I’m far from new to the world of fandoms, I’ve been writing/reading fan fiction in multiple fandoms for decades and there were times even I struggled to understand the far fetched conclusions Jamison came to, not to mention the clumsy narratives of her own essays. Jamison’s own first hand account of discovering a BBC Sherlock meta fan fiction (terms she uses later in the essay but never fully explains) was so confusing I had to reread it a several times before I finally realized what the hell she was talking about. To get an idea of how convoluted it was, imagine having someone who has never used the internet try to describe Facebook.

 

Now, don’t get me wrong there are some great essays in here (that aren't written by Jamison), but they are buried deeply under Jamison’s agenda of selling herself as an expert in a field she does not, in fact, have a claim to academically. She is a professor with a degree in Medieval literature, who has been teaching classes on Twilight and Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan fiction for a handful of years. Her lack of knowledge shows in how little she mentions fan culture studies and the distinct absence of any contributions from established scholars in this field of study. Even though this book covers long established fandoms that have been studied for decades (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Xena, Supernatural, etc).

 

Like Columbus, Jamison walks into fan culture and plants a flag ignoring the hard work and existing presence of academia in favor of selling herself as the sole voice of fan fiction and fandom. This claim rings false, despite her significant social network presence in the Twilight fandom, consider her completely ignorance or at least lack of acknowledgement of the existence of acafans.

 

All this aside the book is poorly put together, scattered and rushed in its conclusions. The lack of comprehensive knowledge of the many fandoms being study, the willful erasure of the contributions made by people of color, non-Western fandoms, and the LGBTQ+ community to fan culture and specifically the fan fiction being produced in internet based fandoms today, will leave knowledgable readers infuriated and new comers woefully misinformed.

 

Though there are some really wonderful essays in this book I cannot in good conscious recommend it to anyone.

 

I would instead suggest reading The Fan Fiction Studies Reader by Karen Hellekson and Kristina Busse.

 

(I’ll add some more titles as I work through the pile of fandom studies books I have on my to-be-read list).