Title: “When a Fan Hits the Sh!t: The Rise and Fall of a Phony Charity”
Author: Jeanine Renne
Publisher: Heisenberg Press
Part of a Series: No
Why I read it: Because I heard about the event and was pointed to the book for more information.
Summary: Jeanine Renne recounts her involvement with the Bit of Earth (BoE) fiasco in the Lord of the Rings fandom. She befriended two fellow fans online—Amy Player and Abigail Stone—who ran the efforts through their Samwise Gamgee/Sean Astin fanpage. Player and Stone even approached Astin in Washington D.C. to ask for his help with a charity they were putting together. He agreed and people flocked to Bit of Earth, helping to build a children’s garden for a library. Bit of Earth grew bigger and bigger until it began to collapse on itself. Lies, broken promises and trickery came to light and Renne witnessed it.
Review: Where to begin? This book was a thrilling ride from beginning to end and I kinda want to talk about it all. But I don’t want to reveal too much. Can you see my dilemma? I’m going to try though.
I think the reason this is so compelling is because it’s a trainwreck. Not the writing. The writing is great. It’s the story it tells that is a trainwreck. You know, something you know will only end in tragedy but you can’t look away. After, truth is stranger than fiction.
Renne puts forth her story in a well organized manner. She has plenty of evidence against Player and Stone, some taken from her own dealings with the two and some taken from others who let her use it. Now, it might seem strange she believed two people on the internet. But these are in the more innocent days of the early 2000s, before catfishing was well-known. People were more trusting, even of strangers on the internet. Especially in fandoms. Your fandom mates become like a second family.
As things get weirder, the story gets more interesting. The reader feels outraged for the people tricked by Player and Stone. And then the reader feels torn between despising the two and feeling sorry for them. Player and Stone had issues that may not be resolved to this day.
I encourage everyone who interacts with others online to read this. This could happen to anybody. Be careful.
Bottom line: An amazing read from beginning to end.
Ever experience a real example of the saying “Truth is stranger than fiction”?