Fanfiction Review: Volume 1
Title: Things That I'd Let You Put in Me
Band: Panic! At the Disco
Woodenduck’s titillating tale of emo-pop anal insertion combines highbrow man-on-man erotica with a touch of pithy literary criticism. Pitting shy, retiring guitarist Ryan Ross against dominant vocalist Brendon Urie, “Things That I’d Let You Put in Me” presents an in-depth look at the power dynamics of young bands and the homoerotic subtexts of life on tour.
As the tale begins, Ross and Urie debate the merits of Chuck Palahniuk and Bret Easton-Ellis, the twin titans of postmodern literature:
Brendon lay sprawled on one of the cramped bus couches, feet propped on an armrest, one hand resting on his chest, the other holding open a copy of American Psycho. Ryan leant against the wall, eyes trailing the length of Brendon's legs, their inelegant, almost gangly stretch.
Brendon rested the book on his chest, fixing Ryan with a look of utmost seriousness.
"I want to cut you up and play around in your blood."
A faint glimmer flashed in his eyes.
"Oh man, you've got to stop reading that book," Ryan said, slight hint of a smile.
"What, like Chuck Palahniuk is any better?"
Ryan grimaced. "At least his work isn't an impenetrable wall of shit."
With these lines, Woodenduck establishes an ironclad authority over the literary proceedings of the piece, demonstrating that (s)he is not too timid to call to task some of the most respected authors of our time; the playful hubris displayed here sets the tone for the rest of the piece: humorous, irreverent, and crackling with sexual electricity.
As the piece moves forward, an innocent conversation about superhero Wolverine’s claws transforms into a sly discussion of sex:
"You know who I feel sorry for?"
This'll be great, thought Ryan, eyes rolling slightly. "Who?"
"Wolverine," said Brendon.
"Ah," said Ryan. "I see." Like it was the most sensible answer in the world. "Why, exactly?"
Brendon grinned, shifting to sit a little more upright, digging his feet unceremoniously into Ryan's lap.
"Well, poor guy. And when I say poor, I mean, he has awesome self-healing powers, can totally kick anyone's ass, and has a skeleton made of metal... But those claws. I mean, every time the poor bastard tries to fist someone, he's just going to end up killing them!"
Ryan looked on, a little slackjawed in horror.
We can see the tide of Brendon’s sexual dominance begin to turn in this passage, as he succeeds in getting a rise out of Ryan with his frank discussions of male sexuality. Ryan’s horrified but curious reaction is a clear reflection of his conflicted feelings. While ordinarily Ryan might have no problem with a graphic discussion of superhero sex, the fact that Brendon is pushing the boundaries of physical contact (digging his feet into Ryan’s groin) leads him to betray his true feelings with a horrified expression. Brendon, sensing the undercurrent of sensual curiosity in Ryan’s reaction of shock, realizes that Ryan is shocked not by the Wolverine anecdote but by the implication that Brendon is relating to Ryan as a sexual being. Sensing imminent victory in the politics of sexual power, Brendon springs the erotic trap:
Ryan screwed up his face. "Gross, Bren."
Brendon placed his hands back onto Ryan's legs, this time creeping a little higher onto his thighs.
"How many things have you put inside you?"
Ryan closed his eyes. This is so not happening.
Brendon persisted. "How many things would you let me put inside you?"
Thus, the central motif of the work is presented. Brendon does not allow time for Ryan to answer the first question before following it with the second question, the real question, toward which his slithering subtext had been inevitably building. Brendon is well aware that Ryan cannot answer the question, but the meaning is purely in the asking. A masterful wielder of erotic power, Brendon lets the question hang in the air as Ryan, caught like a fly in a spiderweb, languishes in bi-curious desire, unwilling to answer but unable to forget. Finally, overflowing with carnal desire and sexual confusion, Ryan submits to the devious game:
Although Woodenduck might easily allow the proceedings to become mired in graphic sex, (s)he exerts admirable libidinous control, allowing the tale to conclude on a note of playful sexual optimism as the cruelty of Brendon’s sexual taunting gives way to a smirking tenderness:
Because to be honest, since Brendon had asked, Ryan couldn't stop thinking about it. And to be more honest, Brendon's question hadn't really been the start of it.
So Ryan did what he did best - he wrote. He sat on his bunk, back against the wall, and comprised a list.
Things That I'd Let You Put In Me
Thirty minutes later, severely flustered, Ryan crawled out of his bunk, and tucked the note under Brendon's pillow.
"Brendon, get off me. I need a shower." Brendon smiled against Ryan's neck. "Want me to come with you?" Ryan shifted, propping himself up on his elbows. "Why?" Brendon sat up again, fixing Ryan with a forceful stare. "Because Ryan. This is quite a comprehensive list. And if we want to get through it any time this week, we'd better get started as soon as possible."
“Things That I'd Let You Put in Me” represents the apex of erotic fan-fiction writing, combining humor and tense scenes of frustrated passion to create a piece of writing as smart as a whip and as taut as a guitar string. With erudite elements of cultural criticism bolstering the text far above the level of the usual homoerotic pulp, Woodenduck’s work should serve as a beacon not only for authors of Panic! At The Disco fanfiction, but for any writer of serious fiction.
Author: Paula C.
Band: The Monkees
Paula C. brings the red-hot literary trend of microfiction into the realm of band fanfiction with explosive results. Awash in a sea of third-rate fairytales and pulp erotica, “Futile” raises the artistic bar for Monkees fiction to a perhaps unsurpassable level. Although it is impossible to predict the shattering repercussions the piece might have on the literary world at large, it is undeniable that “Futile” is a major work.
The text is reprinted here in its entirety:
Micky sat alone in the house, the house that in the past had brought his such joy. Now he was alone. It was futile now to think, think of what happened. Why he was alone.
People he thought of as friends, were now gone. Gone.
Standing he turned in a circle surveying the room, the signs, mis-matched furniture. He remembered laughing, singing, good times.
"Stop..." he screamed. He screamed in an empty room. "Make it stop."
The nurse looked through the window, shaking her head. "So young." She said out loud.
Inside the room, a young man, with curly hair, was slowly losing his mind. His world was gone. The house he used to live in burned to the ground, his friends, all perished. He alone survived only to be taunted by their past.
Paula C. transforms boisterous drummer Mickey Dolenz (here referred to as Micky, the missing letter bringing forward themes of regression and loss) into a pitiable and hollow husk, tormented by a past with which he is unable to cope. The Spartan prose is bound to provoke comparisons with the great American short story writers of the 20th century, but such comparisons can only be favorable.
As in the best work of Raymond Carver Paula C. places the characters in “Futile” in a self-contained world of regret and suffering, at once hyper-real and somehow dreamlike. The stark severity of “Futile” recalls Carver at his most uncompromisingly bleak; like Carver’s late-period fiction, Paula’s text is austere but intense, skirting the line between short fiction and poetry. While she may wear her influences on her sleeve, however, Paula in many ways matches the accomplishments of those who inspired her. Removing the parachute of dark humor that Carver and John Cheever often used to dampen the blow, Paula creates an unblinking view of Monkee despair.
Title: Another Place
Author: Faye Meadows
U2 slash tales are the Thomas Kinkade paintings of the fanfiction world: redundant, soulless, and seemingly mass-produced, with Bono standing in for a warmly glowing lighthouse and the Edge replacing a thatched country cottage. Against my expectations, I’m pleased to report that Faye Meadows’ groundbreaking “Another Place” transcends the mundane and approaches the sublime. The focus on bassist Adam Clayton gives a much needed shot in the arm to the flagging U2 fiction community. Adam’s coupling with Edge defies the standard Bono/Edge pairing, and with this defiance comes the fiery intensity of new lovers, exploring each other for the first time. The pure passion conveyed in this story hasn’t been seen in the fanfiction community since the heyday of Foghat fiction, then available only my mail-order from low-rent catalogues.
While Bono’s tendency toward florid poesy often mires U2 fiction in endless setup and disappointing payoff, the commendable excision of Bono from the proceedings effectively cuts the voice out of the text and leaves on the bodies: the magnetic energy of Edge meets the sensual enigma that is Adam Clayton, and the text explodes around them instantly, having been left no choice but to cut to the chase:
Edge thought briefly that he must be dying. He'd never felt anything like this.
Adam licked a long, soft line down his spine, kissing each ridge gently, fingertips tracing the silky skin of Edge's sides, raising goosebumps, making Edge shiver.
Edge thought he knew what was coming. But he didn't.
The introduction serves as a knowing metaphor for the relative scarcity of Adam/Edge pairings in literature: we, the readers, simply do not know what to expect. On this level, the prose almost works as metafiction, telling us not only the fictional (or not-so-fictional) tale of Edge’s vulnerability to Adam’s torrid erotic dominance, but also the story of our own vulnerability in the author-reader dynamic. Faye Meadows, through Adam Clayton’s rough hands, is fiercely stimulating our literary prejudices.
Adam reached between Edge's legs, grasping his cock in a sweat-slicked hand, and pulled in a downward motion, hand moving in time with his tongue.
Colors swam, a melting rainbow behind Edge's eyelids, and his body thrummed; he whimpered, near crying, because no one ever did this to him, no one took control of his pleasure, no one made him so vulnerable. No one but Adam.
Still toying with our conception of what U2 fiction can be, Meadows further breaks down our preconceptions. Just as Adam provides new and exotic sensations to the Edge on the page, he offers the reader untold erotic possibilities. We are still stunned; we are still under his spell, our minds tingling like Edge’s body, anticipating the shock of an unfamiliar sensation.
Adam's brain went into overdrive; he felt like he was suffocating from the musky fog that surrounded them, and random memories popping in his head. Their first practice, Edge looked so young, so innocent. That first time in Dublin, Edge's frantic protests changing to pleas when Adam wrapped his lips around Edge's dick. In Germany during recording, Edge pounding his frustration into Adam's body, gripping the flesh of his hips so tightly that he left bruises. Last night, Edge curling up beside him, kissing his neck, saying he loved Adam, he needed Adam.
Here, Meadows begins to deftly deconstruct and rewrite the entire U2 fanfiction canon, retroactively inserting Adam into the past, boldly claiming that he’s always been there, whether we recognized him or not. At the same time, she breathes new life into the entire tepid backlog of Bono/Edge texts: can we ever view them the same way, now that we can see the lurking subtext of Edge/Adam romance that has only now been revealed to us?
Edge went to leave but Adam grabbed his hand, pulling him into an embrace; Edge relaxed into his arms, clasping him tightly, pouring everything he felt into that hug.
They kissed slowly, as if they had all the time in the world, reacquainting themselves with each other, reminding themselves of what was waiting for them at the end of each day.
The narrative ends on a promise: Adam will always be available to us, permanently adding a striking third dimension to a once flat landscape of tiresome Bono/Edge retreads. It is no exaggeration to claim that U2 fiction will be forever divided into two eras: the wasteland we sullenly trod through before the arrival of Adam via “Another Place,” and the vibrant post-Adam landscape, a world of limitless sensual possibilities.