Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James

Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James . . . do I really need to tell you what this novel is?  Given how I felt about Twilight, I would probably do better by you to explain why I bothered to read this novel at all.

I have a friend Pia who is a wonderful part of my life.  I’ve known her since we were both young and younger still.  You see, we crossed paths in Intermediate School.  Specifically in a Science class where we both sat in the back at opposite ends of those long lab tables.  Under the black stone top she was surreptitiously reading a book.  I instantly knew she was my kinda gal.  And, since nobody else sat at the four person table, were became lab partners. 

What neither of us knew is that her mother and my mother’s best friend were friends once-upon-a-time and Pia and I had played together as toddlers when those two mothers would meet at the playground.  So Pia and I are practically lifelong friends and we share a common love of literature.  She is the one who introduced me to J R R Tolkien and Monty Python.  I could and should forgive her anything.

Which is why I am officially forgiving her for giving me this book.  I probably only have myself to blame.  I may not have impressed upon her my feelings for the novels which inspired these.  Besides, it makes sense I should be forced to suffer some more.  After all, I read Twilight because Saila loved it so very much.  I even watched the movie with my friend Mary because she adored the books and the movies.  Having been tortured by the recommendations of my friends in the past, it stands to reason that someone would add insult to injury and here I am writing a book review for a book I was destined to loathe.

It takes eight chapters for anyone to actually have sex!  Eight fucking chapters with not a single fuck?  Are you kidding me?  This is erotica?  As I told my husband and my son, if this is what erotica is then I guess I prefer porn because my patience with the Anastasia Steele, the protagonist, and the pseudo-sexual tension ran out after the first chapter.  I’m not even sure it lasted that long but I’m being generous here.  And speaking of not lasting long, the sex itself lasts a couple of pages. 

Trust me.  I’ve had hot sex and to describe it adequately would absolutely take me more than a couple of pages.   

I am using “hot” somewhat facetiously here.  You see, I have heard from so many people that this book is hot, the sex in this book is hot, and this doesn’t surprise me.  The author repeatedly tells the reader that Christian Grey is hot.  He looks hot.  He dresses hot.  He undresses hot.  His emails are hot.  His sexual innuendoes are hot.   Over and over again the narrator tells us how hot hot hot everything is.

Unfortunately the author is completely incapable of showing us how hot anything is because, after chapters and chapters of innuendo, we get a couple of thrusts and it’s done.

It probably helps that the author has written a character who reads Thomas Hardy so one would assume she has intelligence but who is, herself, incapable of actually using words effectively.  Either that or she doesn’t have any vocabulary for her own body parts which she insists on calling “down there” rather than actually, you know, using descriptive language like vulva, labia, vagina, clitoris, pubis, mound, hood, button, cunt, clit, pussy, whatever! 

A woman who is not mature enough to at least label and name her own body parts is not ready for sex and “down there” is so juvenile that it took me months to read this novel.  Literally.  Because I was so bored with her and her non-sex building up to a quickie and nothing more than “oh that was so hot.”


Slit, snatch, cooch, quim, lips, and I could go on but apparently this poor child is incapable of owning her own body.  And perhaps that’s the point except I cannot give the author that much credit for thinking in metaphor or symbolism because the woman can’t write about sex, let alone aberrant sexuality with any depth or relevance.

You want kinky erotica?  Read The Story of O, which has a psychological depth which this best-seller can only aspire to achieve.  Or read Submission which is more interesting and has a lot more sex in far fewer pages.  Because, whatever else this novel may or may not be, it is not erotica.  It is romance with a few very short kinky sex scenes and nothing more.  It doesn’t live up to the hype and yet I will say that I am curious to see how the movie comes out because, if nothing else, the sex scenes have to last longer on the screen than they do on the page.   

No, I will not be reading the next two books.  No, I will not even go out of my way to see the movie.  Yes, I hope that this whole phenomenon would go away.  No, I don’t think it ever will, judging by the enthusiasm of everyone else around me.  Yes, I love my friend Pia.  Yes, I forgive her and everyone else who insists that I’ll love what I end up hating.  But please, people, I beg you, if you know I am unlikely to like something, don’t insist that this time it will be different.  I don’t like avocado.  Never have. Never will.  Some personal preferences never ever change.  And Twilight, with its misogyny and self-loathing disempowered women, and all of the derivative variations on this vulgar theme, is not something for which I shall ever acquire a taste.  So let’s put this dead horse to rest and stop beating it.

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