“Have you read Fifty Shades?” asked my roomie. Unnghhh I groan, and leave her to her reruns of the Jersey Shore. “So what do you think of Fifty Shades?!” says a friend of a friend. “How much porn do you write?” asks my boyfriend’s mother, who somehow got the notion I write erotica a la Fifty Shades.
I had heard really great things about the book from people whose literature tastes are completely opposite my own, and heard really terrible things about it from those with similar tastes. Also, everyone and their mother (seriously, my boyfriend’s mom…) wanted to know if I had read it–since I write about sex clearly I must have read it. Right?
No! I refuse! Just as I refused to read Twilight. I can’t handle a terribly written book just for a smutty plot—although I do adore a well written book with a smutty plot! While I would love to read about a woman being paddled in a red room, if it’s badly written I would rather spend my time painting my bedroom red and then asking my boyfriend to paddle me in it.
However, during my 12 hour car ride home from Bonnaroo, the book surfaced in the back of the car and I picked it up and began a dramatic reading from it. My first frustration was that the main character, Anastasia Steele, (porn star much?) is supposed to be a woman in her early 20s, and yet her voice sounded like she was at least 65 years old. Never in my life have I heard someone my age refer to their “inner goddess doing the merengue” when discussing, oh, I donno, how wet they are. Or calling her boyfriend’s money shot “liquid desire.” What 22 year old talks about her nipples “puckering?” My lips pucker when I suck on a lemon. That’s about it. It was completely unbelievable.
My girlfriends and I began verbally rewriting the sex scenes, including zombie scenes where Ana eats Christian’s face after consuming bath salts, and utilizing more realistic dialogue. I couldn’t get through more than 15 pages before tossing the book to the other side of the car in disgust. I know these books are just supposed to be light reading, but I feel even light reading should be well written! I guess I’m just a snob with a useless degree in English and Creative Writing.
We also discussed what makes a good written sex scene—it should be descriptive while still leaving enough to the imagination. But at the same time, it shouldn’t be littered with vague euphemisms, like when James eludes to pre-orgasmic tension as “pushing higher and higher, to the castle in the air.” The what?
Another issue I had with the book was that it seems to be stuffed full of unbelievable email exchanges–a sorry excuse for any sort of wordplay—and the word “jeez” over and over, and over.
Despite all of the mentions of “liquid desire” and “carnal longing,” Fifty Shades is taking over, and it’s madness, MADNESS. According to Huff Post, there are Fifty Shades of Grey clothing and houseware lines coming out, and Babeland (NYC’s darling sex shop) has seen a 30 percent increase in kinkier items. Thirty percent!! Also, the Huff Post article said that women are “buying more rope than normal,” according to a NYC Hardware shop owner.
I realize soon there will be movies made about the novels. But at least E.L. James won’t be writing the script, because, JEEZ, if I couldn’t stand 15 pages of the book I sure as hell won’t sit through 90 minutes of film. Hopefully it will have some nice eye candy and some good spanking scenes.
Despite all of my hating, I DO like that E.L. James is educating the public to the inner workings of a Dom/Sub relationship, even if it is wildly trashy—and not in the good way. I’ve never been in a relationship like that, but I do wonder if in “real life” a sub would have to sign a contract saying she will consent to vaginal and anal fisting, like in the book. Yikes! If I were in Meat Loaf, well you wouldn’t have to wonder what I was singing about when I croon “I would do anyythhing for love…but I won’t do that…no I won’t do that.” (It’s fisting. And reading the rest of Fifty Shades of Grey.)