Monday, June 14, 2021

52. Fan Fiction

Fan Fiction. Brent Spiner with Jeanne Darst. 2021. [October] 256 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: The second worst part of my job is wearing makeup. The worst part is taking it off. The only thing that will cut through my thick mask at the end of a sixteen hour day is a kerosene-based product called Eliminate.

Premise/plot: Fan Fiction is a premise-driven mystery/thriller by Brent Spiner. The what-if premise of this one is simple: What if Brent Spiner received a HORRIFYING and DISTURBING package in the mail by an obsessed fan? What if following that bloody package, he received dozens and dozens of stalker-y threatening letters? 

How would a fan's obsession (or fans' obsession) impact his personal and professional life? As Brent shares these disturbing messages (and objects) with those closest to him--his fellow cast, security, police, the FBI--his life gets a little bit crazy.

Fan Fiction is fueled by fan or super-fan culture. 

I should also mention it is set in 1991.

My thoughts: I called it a mystery-thriller. The book's description calls it a noir comedy. I had to look up the definition of noir to refresh my memory: "crime fiction featuring hard-boiled cynical characters and bleak sleazy settings." Fan Fiction is NOT your typical comedy. Or perhaps it is if your sense of humor never matured? I found it on the crude side. I honestly can't say I laughed once. It could just be me--I wouldn't be surprised if it was--but what is funny about a person (celebrity or not) receiving death threats? Nor did I find it amusing and laugh-out-loud when Spiner was recalling the fear he grew up in because of his step-father.

I do think the text explores various levels of fan obsession and the blurring of lines of what's appropriate (and healthy) and inappropriate (and SCARY).

For me one of the most thought provoking scenes in the novel is when Brent Spiner attends the funeral of Mrs. Spiner. There is a super-super-super-super obsessed fan who goes to the video rental store often to check out Star Trek videos. It is the same store Brent Spiner uses. She calls herself "Mrs. Spiner" and refers to Brent as HER HUSBAND. When something tragic happens he feels compelled to go to her funeral. Every person in attendance only knows her as Mrs. Spiner. No one knows her actual name or anything about her. She has no family, no friends that know her and are honoring her. (She may have family and friends living, but NO ONE knows her real identity and she's not being buried under her real identity).

I don't regret reading this one even though it was a bit more adult and crude than what I usually read. But it's not going to be topping my best books of the year list. Still I liked it.

If I'd known that 1991 was the year he released an album, I would have appreciated the song quotes a bit more.


"But we know that she related to something in us! And we related something in her. And you know that she related to good things inside you! Those things that you brought to your character, whether you want to admit that or not. You know that parts of you resonated with parts of her! So we all actually know a lot about her, because we know a lot about ourselves! And those parts of her that we share, those emotions, they are real! No matter what you think!"

© 2021 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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