Friday, February 13, 2015

Fifty Shades of *Gag*: A Book Review


(Post copyright 2012, Dawn Weber)
In honor (in horror?) of the fact that the "Fifty Shades of Grey" movie opens today, I'm posting my review of the book, since - as you can probably tell - I won't be seeing it. For those of you who do go, I hope this is the first time in history that the movie is better than the book.

All my friends were doing it.

And if there's one thing I learned in high school, it's that doing what my friends do is stupid dangerous usually pretty fun.

But I really didn't understand the fuss over "Fifty Shades of Grey" by E.L. James, the book that's sent panties flying all across the U.S.A. There are tens of thousands of pages of  "erotica" right out there on the web.

I don't know this personally - it's just what I hear.

Yes, porn: apparently it's why Al Gore invented the internet. Statistics from Wikipedia (so they must be true!) state that every second, more than 28,000 people watch pornography on the computer, and 372 people type the word "adult" into search engines. Daily, about 2.5 billion emails sent or received worldwide contain X-rated material. Approximately 2.3 billion of those emails come to me.

They call the 50 Shades sensation "mommy porn," which seems to soften the smut a bit. For me, the idea of mommy porn isn't new, because like many sneaky, rotten 80s teens, I swiped and read all my mommy's "porn" back in the groovy day. The D.H. Lawrence. . . the Erica Jong . . . the Harold Robbins - I am familiar with the erotica genre, although I don't read these kinds of books much anymore, on account of being very busy working, parenting and perpetually loading the dishwasher.

My friends piqued my interest though, because the 50 Shades opinions ran rampant.

They loved it! They hated it! They loathed it but they purchased the entire trilogy!
  • "Personally, I am enjoying them - and so is my husband."
  • "They're O.K. - if you like smut."
  • "They're awful books. A total waste of time. I read all three of them."
Well! In the interest of, um, journalism and stuff, I decided to do it. You know, read "Fifty Shades of Grey." Purely for research purposes.

No, no. Don't thank me. Here at the Lighten Up! Center for Smutty Research, I'm a giver. I just give and give. So that other women didn't have to, I went ahead and paid ten bucks for the Kindle version of Fifty Shades.

And now? All those bitches owe me. They owe me ten bucks. Each.

I waded through 380 pages of the most ridiculous, awful, typo-ridden text I've ever read. But, like a train wreck, I couldn't look away; I kept reading, because I simply could not believe this book had been published.


The main character, Anastasia Steele (that name! *gag*), is a 21-year-old recent college grad without a computer or email address. This is the first sign that the book is complete bullshit fiction.

She is also a virgin who has never touched herself - second sign that this is complete bullshit fiction.

Within a few weeks of meeting multi-billionaire Christian Grey (more name gag), thanks to his, um, "gifts", she has a laptop, Blackberry and a new car. She also has rapid, intense, multiple and simultaneous orgasms courtesy of Grey - All. The. Time. Aaannnd . . . there's your last sign this book is complete bullshit fiction.

I won't even go into the sick, demeaning, creepy relationship between Christian and Anasatasia. That's enough ranting for a whole 'nother post.

Not only is "50 Shades of Grey" the most badly written book I've ever read, apparently it had no editor. The author uses the same phrases again and again. And then she uses them again.

In fact, these grossly overused words make up most of the book. Here at the Lighten Up! Center for Smutty Research, I have summed up the entire piece of, um, work with them, with the actual Kindle word count of each expression's usage:

"Jeez (75 times). Triple crap (92 times). My inner goddess (57 times) stares into  Christian's gray eyes (31 times) as I clench (35 times) all my muscles down there (7 times) in my sex (15 times). I bite my lip (11 times) and murmur (197 times) his name as I shatter into a delicious, violent, exhausting, intense, all-consuming orgasm (135,587 times)."

*Gag* My inner goddess just barfed.

Yeah, this book sickens me. This book saddens me. Mostly, this book disappoints me.

Fiction is difficult to write. I know it is; I've tried it. And my writing is far from perfect - see phrases "on account of" and "whole 'nother post", above.

But every day, tens of thousands of writers submit work to publishing executives who either completely ignore them, or summarily reject their work after reading two sentences of a painstakingly assembled manuscript package.


Now, to be fair, in interviews E.L. James seems as shocked as anyone at her book's success. She didn't plan to write what turned out to be the fastest-selling paperback in history; the prose was originally written as Twilight internet fan fiction.

Still, this "book" sailed from web to print in the blink of Christian's gray eyes (again - 31 times). Excuse me while I sob quietly in my cubicle. Clearly, I need to write "erotica" instead of humor.

The only good thing about the 50 Shades phenomenon? Another mini sexual revolution. Ladies are reading this pool-side, beach-side, bed-side, and somehow this fad makes it o.k. to read erotica, for women to admit they have a healthy, perfectly natural interest in sex.

But girlfriends, please. If you want to read some smut, some mommy porn, swipe your mommy's porn - the D.H. Lawrence, the Erica Jong, the Harold Robbins. I hear the Anne Rice (pseudonym A.N. Roquelaure) Sleeping Beauty Trilogy is fantastic. I plan to check it out. You know, purely for research purposes.

The bottom line? PLENTY of good erotic fiction - with far better writing - exists, some of it even posted for free right there on Al Gore's internet.

I don't know this personally - it's just what I hear.

29 comments:

  1. Your review gave me a chuckle. I haven't read it....no interest in that genre at all, but I've had some friends love it and others absolutely hate it for the reasons you set forth. As a side, I'm not a huge fan of Anne Rice either.....she uses the word 'preternatural' on every single page of her Vampire books. Drove me nuts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the tip! Seeing the same word over and over drives me nuts, see phrases "inner goddess" and "crap" above.

      Delete
  2. Do you know how many times I have considered writing "erotica"? You can't go wrong with it -- and I guess you don't have to be much of a writer either...

    *sob*

    Pearl

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have heard from many woman that the book was poorly written and yes, they read all three books. Pure research I know. I for one want to apologize for the 2.3 billion emails, I must remember not to hit reply to all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The whole "I hate them but I read all three" thing cracks me the hell up.

      Delete
  4. Thank you for reading it so I don't have to. For falling on the sword ... er, so to speak. Way to take one for the team!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do what I can, Linda! You owe me ten bucks. And a bottle of vodka.

      Delete
  5. I've written a couple of erotic short stories, one of which can be found somewhere way back in the archives of literotica dot com, and no, it's not easy. I actually find that writing the set up is fun, but writing the actual sexy parts gets real boring real fast.

    I haven't read 50 shades, but I've read enough 'We've ready it so you don't have to' blogs (check out the one at The Pervocracy, it's fantastic) to know I'm not wasting my money on the books or the movie.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I knew my profession had hit rock bottom when 50 Shades was the topic of a session at a middle English teachers' conference. (It wasn't really about the book, but they didn't even have sitting room left for that one.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I believe it. I saw "50 Shades of Grey" wine this morning online. Get ready for 50 shades of everything!

      Delete
  7. Haven't read the books. Won't see the movie. Not that I have anything against consensual BDSM, just that it's an immediate turnoff for me if a woman is involved.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know, the BDSM wouldn't have bothered me if it hadn't been forced on "Ana," and if there hadn't been so much psychological manipulation. It was just very demeaning and creepy

      Delete
  8. As a guy I can appreciate smut in its many forms, but when I read I do appreciate something literate. Maybe it's just that women are starved for erotica. Maybe that is something to be addressed that could be very lucrative. Hmmm.
    For many men, however, all we need is to look at something naked while sipping a beer. That can get us through tough times.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you hit the nail on the head. Women are starved for erotica, so much so that they fell for this crap. Also, women seem to need more plot and character and relationships in their porn, I mean, erotica, and that what's probably made this book so popular. It is a (badly written) romance novel with (badly written) porn.

      Delete
  9. Just goes to show what sells, I guess. Not sure why. Bad writing pays!!! I've got to burn my dictionary, my thesaurus, my high school diploma and start from scratch!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly, Strayer. I've already burned mine. Want to borrow my lighter?

      Delete
  10. Thanks for the review; it did seem like an honest one for the book. I had heard about it when it first came out but really had no interest to read it or now to see the movie. It would have driven me crazy to read this and see the typos or the constantly used phrases too.

    betty

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No problem, betty. You owe me a margarita! ;)

      Delete
  11. Thank you for actually reviewing the book! And for the word count on those wonderfully awful phrases. Now I know I don't need it! I checked out a kindle from the library that had 50 shades of gray on there, and I was staying at the hospital with my dad for a week (he's better now) and I was so bored that I read all of the stuff on that library kindle- except for that one. I got three pages in, about (it was a kindle, hard to tell) and it seemed to be actually unreadable. My eyes just stopped traveling back and forth. My eyes were like, "There be no language there. No knowledginess. I quit." But you! You are a woman of purpose, clearly! You are a hero. My hero. Yes, finally. Finally I have found my hero, and it is you. I'm sorry, though, for all of the brain cells you lost to atrophy while you read that book. You took one for the team. We owe you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Shoshana - Well! I've always wanted to be someone's hero. :) I powered through. It was a dirty job, but someone had to do it.
      Glad your dad is better now!

      Delete
  12. I, too, know women who have read all three of the books. They are friends... although, to be perfectly honest, I don't know why anymore since I have such little respect for anyone who would read more than the first paragraph. There is so much good writing out there. If you're that horny, rent Debbie Does Dallas. It saddens me how many stupid women there are out there that this vomit should become a best-seller.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It blows my mind, the popularity of the book, the trilogy and the movie. Like I said, the first book was the best selling paperback of ALL TIME. Unreal.

      Delete
  13. I have heard that, despite its popularity, it is a really poorly written book. I heard that the movie sucks as well. I just wish they had given me the lead role of Mr. Gray!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Optimist - you are far too wonderful to play Christian Grey.

      Delete
  14. I'm glad at least the movie reviews are saying it's crap too. But really? Why did Hollywood have to go there. It's infuriating. I'm with you.

    Isn't "geeze" spelled "geeze"?
    What's "her sex" about? She never masturbates, from what I understand.
    "Down there?" She's writing about BDSM and she won't write "vagina"?
    Oy vey...Sorry.

    xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Robyn - In Ana's idiotic world, it's spelled geez. Re: the popularity of this garbage, it's like one of my friends always says: "I used to be amazed. Now I'm just amused."

      Delete
  15. This reminds me of a review I read for the trilogy on Good Reads. If I could find it again, I would post the link. It's hilarious and they counted the overuse of phrases too.

    ReplyDelete