Yesterday I paid the last $20 of my library fine. I didn’t have anything new to pick up since my fine stopped me from reserving books. I tried browsing at the New York Ottendorfer Library branch, an easy/difficult thing to do since their fiction section is entirely contained within a dozen small shelves. There were two Edith Wharton books, neither of which I wanted. No copies of “Confederacy of Dunces.” But I did noticed a large number of mystery novels (three shelves’ worth), books that no one reads but everyone reads. Mark mentioned a friend who used to proof(listen) mystery audiobooks. He’d check the audio against the book, feeling for certain the reader had misread, but more often it was a grammar/plot mistake in the book. He was given two days per audiobook. That’s the kind of quality control they put into mystery novels, and it makes sense. They’re obviously segregated by genre because readers care about the genre, the ingredients, more than they care who’s cooking.
My favorite example of this is the “The Cat Who” series. I guess it’s easy to make fun of the housewives this series is directed toward, the people who like mysteries and cats so much that they had to read about them together. This fan site for the author (Lilian Jackson-Braun, who is in her seventies and lives with her husband and two cats), doesn’t help: there are links to fan fiction, a broken message board, and ‘your daily horoscope.’ The author also has a link to a page about her ‘hubby,’ along with the dates he left the military and went to a WWF matchup.
I think being a fan necessarily means accepting that you’ll like someone or something regardless of diminishing quality, so I guess being a fan is necessarily lowbrow. I don’t think you can be a fan of a static thing: you can’t be a fan of a single TV episode, a single book, or film. You’ve got to be a fan of the author, series, characters, actor and then hope for the best, though quality always diminishes. Maybe it’s the lowbrow-ness that makes being a fan of something uncool, more than the fan-ness itself. Taste, an aspect of being cool, means discernment, fandom means no-discernment. You can’t qualify, you can’t say you like Weezer, but only the first two albums and maybe Make Believe, Simpsons but only the first five seasons, Star Wars but only the last three episodes. You’ve got to embrace it all.
On another note, the lady with the Lilian Jackson-Braun fansite also put up a Jim Carrey fan page. As someone who made her dad drive 10 people to the opening night of the Mask, who still has every word of Ace Ventura memorized, and who wrote Jim Carrey a fan letter every week for a year, I, uh, agree/approve. This has had its ups and downs: down, quite a bit, when The Majestic came out; back up for Eternal Sunshine, back down since.
I have a track review on PTW, of a pretty bad Architecture In Helsinki track. It reminded me of the similar, but much better Scottish twee band Bearsuit. I’ve been meaning to occasionally post (legal!) MP3s I’ve been listening to, once in a while. Here’s one.[audio:http://jessicasuarez.com/audio/bearsuit-itsuko_got_married.mp3]