Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Fifty shades of dismay

Literary opinion aside for a moment, I’d like to commend Ms. James for her truly amazing accomplishments – she’s published three novels in two years, all of which have leapt to the tops of bestseller lists worldwide.  Her savvy understanding of both the female reader and the influence of e-readers on the book market, along with her creative (and successful) approach to publishing has truly earned her a top spot.

But as for her books…let me start with a couple of caveats. First, romance novels are not really my thing, never have been. I don’t have the patience to follow through the standard formula of boy meets girl, events conspire to keep them apart – oh no, will they get together? – all works out, happy ending. Second, I read Fifty Shades of Grey (discreetly on my Nook) very, very quickly.  Speedreading, actually, in about four hours total, so I admit that I might’ve missed some of the finer points (if there are any).

Bottom line up front: Although I admire the author, I didn’t like Fifty Shades. For quite a few reasons, but I’ve narrowed it down to my top three:

  •  Not enough sex. Specifically, not enough raunchy sex.  With all the media hype, I expected Fifty Shades to be teeming with literary porn. After all, the book’s been attributed to saving thousands of marriages as horny housewives reignite their suppressed sexuality, right?  But Ana doesn’t even get her ass slapped until more than halfway through the book and the unhappy couple really only engages in the all-out nasty a handful of times. To me, that’s hardly Mommy Porn (or Mummy Porn, as Nik would say, although I’m having a tough time visualizing exactly how mummies do pornography what with all those bandages).  The characters certainly talk about sex quite a bit, droning on and on about their sex contract, but when it comes to bumping uglies, Fifty Shades is really nothing more than a formulaic romance novel with spicier sex scenes.
As a side note, throughout the entire 391 page book, Christian manages to bonk Ana without ever using his “penis” or even his “cock.” He gets by merely with his “erection,” which may or may not be a bad thing, depending on one’s taste in literary descriptions. But for something touted as porn, I expected a little more graphical imagery.
  • Tiresome repetition. And speaking of cock, a quiz question: How many times does Christian Grey “cock his head”? Did you guess 24 times? Correct! So about once every 16 pages, almost makes one wonder if he’s got some sort of nervous affliction.  (The characters also drink cocktails (6 times) and fuss about in a cockpit (8 times) - not-so-subtle innuendo or the product of a limited vocabulary?) Christian also purses, twitches, quirks, or arches his lips at least 33 times, which to be fair, could be part of the same physical condition.
Even more tiresome, however, are Ana’s frequent and recurring exclamations of surprise, dismay, disgust, the weather, you name it.  Referring to the bar chart below, we see that she invokes religious defecation a whopping 93 times and “Holy ____” another 61 times, resulting in an average use (or overuse) of about once every two and a half pages. Holy Repetition, Batman! 

  • Ludicrous writing: The proof of the pudding...
He’s my very own Christian Grey-flavored popsicle….My inner goddess is doing the merengue with some salsa moves.”

            Worst. Blowjob scene. Ever.

My insides practically contort with potent, needy, liquid, desire.”

            Is she turned on or is this the onset of dysentery?

He smiles his dazzling head-cocked-to-one-side smile, and my stomach pole vaults over my spleen.”

             Stomach pole? This left me speechless and in tears.


  1. While I agree the book is garbage, you read the last thing wrong. Her stomach pole isn't vaulting. Her stomach is poke vaulting. Still a stupid thing to say though. Carry on.

    1. *pole
      Fuck, my mistake.

    2. No doubt the tears of horror were blurring your vision, same thing happened to me. Over and over and over...

      We'll be posting Part 2 of the review soon!

  2. I will admit that I picked this book up in the airport. Excited by all the hoopla created by friends and fans alike, I eagerly flipped open the book. Only to find myself skimming the pages, looking for the good parts, by the middle of the book. It was not a literary masterpiece but it was a popular fiction masterpiece. I'm sure I am not the only woman waiting with bated breathe for the movie. My hopes is that it will translate better on the screen.