I just finished reading Fifty Shades of Grey. …
At first, I was going to write this indignant manifesto about how author E.L. James has misrepresented the BDSM community. How she creates a character with even less self-esteem than her predecessor, Stephenie Meyer’s Bella Swan. How Christian Grey is not truly a fan of S & M but pure, straight-up sadism, and what kind of message does that send out. I even wanted to jump into the whole “Is this book in support of or against feminism?” debate raging on Jezebel, Salon.com, and the sisterhood of websites and writers.
But to do so would legitimize the text that Ms. James has gotten published. And that is some bad writing, y’all. It makes Nicholas Sparks seem like Cormac McCarthy (whom Mr. Sparks ungraciously slammed a few years back). It makes Twilight seem like Austen. It makes erotica seem like Booker prize winners. I’m being serious, folks. I can only take so many internal exclamations of “Oh my,” “Holy f–k,” “Holy crap,” “Holy Moses,” “Holy s–t,” etc. I do not appreciate terrible similes and metaphors. I especially shudder at overuse of adjectives and descriptive phrases. Not to mention the creepiness of the “hero,” the cringe-inducing self-effacement of the “heroine” and the laughable sexual antics.
Let me treat you to some vomit-inducers:
“His voice is warm and husky like dark melted chocolate fudge caramel…or something” (James 29).
“Anastasia, you were comatose. Necrophilia is not my thing. I like my women sentient and receptive” (64). HOT. That is exactly what I want in a man. He likes his women alive, but completely cold-fish in the sack.
“I want to brush my teeth. I eye Christian’s toothbrush. It would be like having him in my mouth….I feel so naughty. It’s such a thrill” (72). Yum. Nothing says love like shared toothbrushes.
“My inner goddess glares at me, tapping her small foot impatiently” (79). Sidenote: there is so much of Anastasia’s “inner goddess” and “subconscious” in there, they might as well be their own characters.
“Please him! He wants me to please him! I think my mouth drops open. Please Christian Grey. And I realize, in that moment, that yes, that’s exactly what I want to do. I want him to be damned delighted with me. It’s a revelation” (91). Yes, Anastasia. THIS is why you were put on this earth. To please Christian effing Grey.
“My inner goddess is jumping up and down, clapping her hands like a five-year-old. Please, let’s do this…otherwise we’ll end up alone with lots of cats and your classic novels to keep you company” (150). Oh no, nothing can be worse than ending up alone with cats and classic novels. Especially not considering that there are TWO OTHER GUYS eager to bang this boring chick.
Not to mention that medical, clinical terms for one’s genitalia have been replaced by such glorious euphemisms as “my sex.” I had no idea we were in an Edith Wharton novel, but thank you, E. L. James, for bringing us back to Victorian England.
“I gasp, and I’m Eve in the Garden of Eden, and he’s the serpent, and I cannot resist” (197). Oh, goody. Yet another reference to Eden and original sin in reference to sex. I can hardly wait.
After having sex, Anastasia tries to “stand with as much dignity as I can muster in my just-f—ked state. Quickly, I attempt to smooth my just-f—ked hair” (272). Girlfriend, we get it. You just had sex. Go sing it out with Andy Samberg and Akon.
Let’s also talk about the probability for Christian Grey’s entrance into the world of BDSM.
SPOILERS AHOY, MATEYS.
At the age of 15 he is “seduced” by one of his mom’s friends, a dominatrix, and he is her “submissive” for six years. During these formative and liberating years, he never once has “vanilla sex,” as he refers to it, and Anastasia is the only person with whom he has missionary sex. Do you believe it? Me neither. What is the probably that a 15-year-old boy is overpowered by a middle-aged woman, forced to repeatedly engage in kinky sex acts and ONLY kinky sex acts for six years? Doesn’t it seem more likely she seduced him the old-fashioned way and THEN led him to her den of iniquity (as they once referred to it on Sex and the City)? WHY AM I STILL TALKING ABOUT THIS BOOK?
END OF SPOILERS
In short, this was an enlightening and painful reading experience. Enlightening that so many women my age and up are reading this book for titillation, when it is really one of the most un-sexy things I’ve ever read (okay, so maybe Henry James is more asexual, but you get the idea). Painful in that it is so poorly-written and selling SO WELL.
Ergo, my conclusion: I should just quit graduate school and start on myTwilightfan-fiction right now and get it published. If this…book…can get published, I can too.
James, E.L. Fifty Shades of Grey. New York: Vintage Books, 2012. E-Book.