I finally read the mommy porn bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey.
Despite hearing it was a god-awful romance cliché, a friend convinced me that the underlying thrust (bad pun intended) of this sex tale was a touching love story.
“It’s not really about the sex,” she said. “It’s about two people who learn to love and accept each other even though they are from completely different worlds.”
My copy-cat alarm bells sounded—surely not the worlds-apart trend from the classic Romeo and Juliet to the ill-fated love between vampire and mortal, werewolf and human, angel and human and so on.
Well, not exactly.
The lovers in this book are more like galaxies apart, universes even. There’s Anastasia, the 21-year-old college virgin who has never masturbated and only ever kissed two boys, sort of. And there’s Christian (please call me Mr. Grey), a 27-year-old multimillionaire who never makes love, only f*cks hard, and who gets best turned on when his submissive is bound, gagged and duly spanked.
The good news is when oh-so-handsome Mr. Grey of the smoldering eyes and wicked grin asks Anastasia to sign a legal document to become his 12th submissive, she nixes the anal fisting and genital clamps, before signing on the dotted line.
The bad news is she spends three quarters of the book vacillating about her love for Christian in prose straight out of a junior high school girl’s diary. Her inner life is painfully adolescent and full of bad pop psychology—even as she reflects on her first spanking from a man who tells her clearly that punishing her (for disobedience) is a requirement to his sexual satisfaction.
I’ve never been hit in my life. What have I gotten myself into? Very slowly, my tears….begin to slide down the side of my face and into my ears. I have fallen for someone who is so emotionally shut down, I will only get hurt—deep down I know this—someone by his own admission who is completely fucked up. Why is he so fucked up? It must be awful to be as affected as he is, and the thought that as a toddler he suffered some unbearable cruelty makes me cry harder. Perhaps if he was normal he wouldn’t want you, my subconscious contributes snidely to my musings…and in my heart of hearts, I know this is true. I turn to the pillow and the sluice gates open…and for the first time in years, I am sobbing uncontrollably into my pillow.
For the first time in years I am cringing uncontrollably at a character I can’t even remotely begin to like, let alone care about. And I guess I could be a good sport and overlook the highly improbables—like this maiden’s multi-orgasmic deflowering or a kinky tycoon falling for a nitwit and sounding himself like a Shakespeare character (Ana, you beguile me so).
Or I could even go along with the titillating promise of BDSM erotica. After all, Anne Rice did this already under her pen name A.L Rolequaire in the 1980’s and it was damn hot stuff, even if there were a tad too many butt plugs and whips for my vanilla-sex tastes. But my feeble hopes for a wet-panty response to Fifty Shades were quashed by what is singularly the worst writing I have ever read. Harlequin romance and Danielle Steele books read like high literature next to author E.L. James’s prose.
At one point I started counting how many times Christian grinned wickedly or smirked while his eyes flashed darkly, smoldered or burned. And then there’s the glaring disconnect between the presentation of Anastasia (in Christian’s eyes) as brilliant and charming while every second page she bites her lip (Ana, stop biting your lip, you know what that does to me) and utters an interior exclamation of holy f*ck, holy cow, holy sh*t or holy crap at least once per page turn. Oh, and let’s not forget liberal sprinklings of jeez and oh boy.
“Holy cow turds this book is bad,” I say wryly. “It must be meeting an unmet yearning in sexually frustrated housewives for really bad prose.”
But don’t take my word for it. Go get all hot and bothered by adverb overload where everything is said seductively, coyly, wickedly, even phlegmatically and where the main characters make cartoons look real.
Jeez, did I say that sarcastically?