Friday, March 7, 2014

Repost: Fifty shades of bad writing

For the next few days, I am going to be on the road, enjoying a late winter vacation. In my absence, I am reposting some of my most popular blog entries from the past. I hope you will enjoy them.

We start with this entry from April 22, 2012. It was my take on the publishing sensation of that year, Fifty Shades of Grey and it certainly got a response from a lot of readers!

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“You beguile me, Christian. Completely overwhelm me. I feel like Icarus flying too close to the sun.”- The virginal Anastasia speaks to Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey 
One of the more interesting and puzzling phenomena in the world of books recently has been the popularity of the soft porn book - often referred to as "mommy porn" - Fifty Shades of Grey. The book, first in a trilogy, shot to the top of the New York Times combined e-reader and print fiction best-seller list and it was quickly followed by the other two parts of the trilogy.  The books have stayed there now for six or seven weeks.

If news of this latest reading rage that seems to have lots of horny women panting for more hasn't reached your ears - or eyes - yet, let me tell you what I know about it. It will have to be second-hand, because, frankly, I haven't read it either. I've just read lots about it.

The author, E.L. James, apparently conceived of the books as a bit ofTwilight "fan fiction," an homage to the paranormal love story of Bella and Edward in that popular series - which I also haven't read. James “reimagined the Bella and Edward love affair set in contemporary Seattle, Washington with Bella as the young college graduate virgin and Edward as the masterful billionaire with secret sexual predilections.” She named the Bella character Anastasia and the Edward character Christian Grey and Fifty Shades of Grey was born.

The relationship of Anastasia and Christian is based on kinky sex, specifically bondage, dominance, sado-masochism or BDSM in the shorthand of the day. Christian is one messed up individual and he gets off on spanking Anastasia, dominating her and causing her pain. And Anastasia likes it! And it seems that a lot of women really, really enjoy reading about it. When one reads the comments on online reviews of the book, one sees that the women fans of the book empathize with Christian because of his tortured past. They forgive him and understand all of his funny little predilections. They see him as incredibly romantic and someone they'd like to have handcuff them to the bedposts.

Now, I'm not opposed to erotica as such. A well-written sex scene is a pleasurable read and a great - um - tension-reliever. But the excerpts that I've read of this book just reek! For example:

“I pull him deeper into my mouth so I can feel him at the back of my throat and then to the front again. My tongue swirls around the end. He’s my very own Christian Grey-flavored popsicle. I suck harder and harder … Hmm … My inner goddess is doing the merengue with some salsa moves.”  
Anastasia's "inner goddess" seems to be an ever-present participant/observer in their encounters, completing a virtual three-way, so to speak. Again, after a sado-masochistic romp:
“We lie there, panting together, waiting for our breathing to slow. He gently strokes my hair … Boy … I Survived. That wasn’t so bad. I’m more stoic than I thought. My inner goddess is prostrate … well, at least she’s quiet.” 
I am at a stage in my life when there are so many good writers and good books out there and time is just too short to spend it on bad writers and bad books. My "inner goddess" tells me to stay far, far away from Fifty Shades of Grey.

If  you, on the other hand, are curious, you can speed read some of the naughtiest bits of the book here and then see what your very own inner goddess tells you about reading the whole thing!

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