19 September 2010

Seven with one blow: my life as Jack, the Giant-Killer; or why fanfiction is sometimes better than "real" fiction

Textbook rush is over, which means I now have energy left at the end of the work day to read, and I've been playing catch-up with a vengeance.  Although it's one book shy of friend and former co-worker Emily RM's legendary blogpost, I'm proud to say that I'm concurrently reading seven different books right now--killing seven in one blow, in a way.  One of them is already available (Anthony Bourdain's Medium Raw).  Five of them are forthcoming later in the publishing season (from Harper, Random House, Simon & Schuster, and Algonquin).  And one of them hasn't been "published" at all.  It's a novel-length work of fanction, Harry Potter fanfiction, to be precise.  I'm at least 75 pages into each of the "real" books and feeling various levels of compulsion to finish them, but not a single one can hold a candle to the draw that the fanfiction has on me--a work, I should point out, that I have read several times already, including once already this year.

So why does the fanfiction keep me coming back for more, when there are so many other titles on my roster?  For starters, Roman Holiday, written by a woman known simply as Anna, is a master of the genre, starring Hermione Granger as one tough, smart, sexy Gryffindor who isn't ashamed to flaunt her Slytherin side.  Anna is a very good writer, and unlike most serial fanfiction of its length, this novel is so well-edited that you don't want to pare it down 100 pages or so when reading it one sitting.  Her blend of humor, romance, angst, action,  adventure, and everyday life makes for superb pacing.  And did I mention the sexy talk?  Anna's not afraid to be graphic, though that's not where the power of her eroticism lies.  No, that power is grounded in the strength of the writing itself, with metaphoric language that is at once arresting in its originality and perfect in its aptness. 

Anna also preseves the nitty-gritty kernels of character that J. K. Rowling created, and though she frequently takes them places the creator would not approve, she rarely takes them out of character.  Hermione's ruthlessness and Draco's insecurity are grounded in canon, as is Severus's bitter sense of humor.  (Although, to be honest, once you remove the Harry Filter, you could arguably do just about anything with most of the HP characters and make a case for yourself, since the boy was just so bloomin' unobservant.)  And though there aren't any important original characters in Roman Holiday, Anna ups the ante by re-interpreting Salazar Slytherin in a way that's reminiscent of the treatment of Judas Iscariot in Jesus Christ, Superstar (or the gnostic gospels, if you're inclined to take it that far).

You can find Roman Holiday, as well as some of Anna's other works, at www.witchfics.org.  It's the first part of a trilogy that is, and will likely remain, incomplete.  The completed middle work, also novel-length, is called Jewel of the Nile, where Hermione leaves Hogwarts a year early to pursue independent research in Cairo.  While it is still better than 99% of the fanfiction out there, it feels just a little bit too otherworldly for my personal taste.  However, she does introduce some interesting original characters as well as put a new spin on old ones, namely Professor Trelawney and Gabrielle Delacour.  Last Tango in Paris, part trois, stops a little past the half-way mark, and the fanfiction world is all the more bereft for it.

If you like Harry Potter fanfiction at all, you should really read Anna's work.  She's one of my two favorite fanfic writers and, of the two, the only one whose work is still available to read online (Sara Rees Brennan is the other one, and when she published her first for-profit novel last year, she pulled all of her online work).  Her writing is literary, insightful, inventive, and full of lemony goodness, not to mention plot devices that are so far superior to most of Rowling's that before long, you'll be re-arranging your memories of the Harry Potter series to incorporate Anna's visions. 

Be warned: HG/DM, HG/SS (and one more HG pairing that would give too much away if I included it here), eventual character death.  Harry, Ginny, and Ron are secondary characters, albeit good ones, and everybody else pretty much plays second fiddle to Hermione. 
Found this image here

1 comment:

  1. Em - you know I think you are the bee's knees, but this blog proves that even such a title is not adequate. I LOVE that you have blogged about HP fanfic, and Anna's work in particular. I mean, HG is the best character out there by far, and Anna has really shown her for the true Goddess that she is. Thanks for spreading the word! In HP luv, Melanie


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