In a fit of wacky cultural assimilation, I downloaded Fifty Shades of Grey on my phone the other day to read while nursing. I’d heard on LITERALLY EVERY TELEVISION PROGRAM EVER that it was a racy book and mommies loved it and you just had to read it yourself and [ insert wide-eyed expression here ].
I feel like I have read a lot of terrible books for the sake of interesting blogging (remember The Man Plan? and that Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt monstrosity?) so I consider myself to be a pretty reliable authority on terrible books. And I consider myself to be a pretty reliable authority on terrible erotica — because I’ve written lots of it! But Fifty Shades of Grey is so abominably awful that it kind of makes me want to become celibate because it has RUINED SEX for me. As the HORRIBLE and BORING narrator would put it, My inner goddess climbed up on a desk and hanged herself with a necktie. If you think I am kidding with that wording, you are so deliciously naive. That is exactly how narrator/protagonist Anastasia thinks. And that is her name — Anastasia Steele. NO, REALLY!
I’m not sure I can adequately describe the sheer magnitude of suck involved in this book. I thought I could handle it, but it hit me like a goddamned Hawking-Hole. I COULD NOT HANDLE THE AMOUNT OF SUCK INVOLVED IN THIS BOOK. Blogging about how much is sucks is KIND OF ORGASMIC, SEE HOW I KEEP YELLING? And while I kind of feel bad for the level of loathing I feel toward it, because it is the triumphant creative achievement of a fellow human being, I feel vindicated sharing my loathing because EL James is now incredibly freaking rich thanks to what she has done to me, to you, TO ALL OF US WHO CAN READ.
Let me share with you some of the book’s most-used and most ridiculous phrases and words:
- tentatively (23 occurrences)
- cocks his head (15 occurrences, like some sort of cocker spaniel)
- Where are my panties?
- Why hasn’t he given me back my panties?
- my inner goddess is doing the merengue with some salsa moves
- my inner goddess is doing the dance of the seven veils
- holy Moses (5 occurrences)
- holy cow (19 occurrences)
- holy crap (39 occurrences)
- holy shit (54 occurrences)
- Stop biting your lip.
- You’re biting your lip.
- Please stop biting your lip.
- jeez (81 occurrences)
I could keep going but I am seriously starting to get depressed. And I really haven’t even touched on the HORRIBLE NO GOOD VERY BAD plot. I mean, the book starts out with a completely ridiculous conceit: Anastasia is going to interview this hugely wealthy and powerful and reclusive mogul in place of her college roommate, who is editor of the student paper but who is sick in bed. You know, because hugely wealthy and powerful and reclusive people don’t mind that sort of last-minute switcheroo from members of the media, even student newspapers! In fact, when Anastasia gets all the way to the lobby of the hugely wealthy and powerful and reclusive Christian Grey’s office, he calls her by her roommate’s name. ROFL! He thought a real reporter was coming to talk to him but instead it’s just some random virgin who has never even been on the internet.
The main plotline is this: Some rich dude becomes so enthralled with this college-age woman — a viiiirrrrgiiinnnn! — so completely that he buys her cars and lingerie and computers and food so much food in the hopes that she will sign his contract stipulating that she will mind him and exist solely as an instrument for his pleasure or else he will punish her oh and also he will punish her anyway because he likes the way hitting her makes her pale skin flush red. You might have guessed that I’d have some issues with such nonsense, but to not even let one waxy drop of nuance fall anywhere near such a potentially volatile scenario? Unforgivable, EL James. And then to promise some sort of seriously kinky sex and deliver exchanges that wouldn’t even get bleeped on HBO? I just … I just don’t even know what to say. Although I have to say I did really just love BOTH the in-home personal gyno exam AND the tampon-removal scene. I guess those scenes counts as kink, but there’s something Howard Sternian about them.
On the upside, this whole phenomenon means that it’s still possible to take your terrible writing and make a HUGE hit out of it. On the downside, SO MANY AMAZING WRITERS NEVER, EVER GET ANY MONEY OR RECOGNITION FOR WHAT THEY DO AND MOST OF THEM NEVER WILL, BECAUSE THE REST OF US ARE READING THIS HORRIBLE CRAP.
Do not read this book unless you can do it for free or get someone to pay you to do it. I beg you.