Joburg Expat: Fifty Shades of Crap?

September 27, 2012

Fifty Shades of Crap?

This truly has no particular connection to my expat theme, whichever way you look at it. At least I hope not.

It does, however, have everything to do with writing. And writer's envy, I admit it. How can you not pay attention when the whole world is talking about this book, or trilogy rather, that women all over the planet - and more than a few men, I would hazard a guess - are devouring, quite literally? Safely ensconced behind her Kindle or other e-reader, where no one can see the dirty little secret hiding behind the nondescript cover?

So I'll come right out and admit that I recently downloaded my very own copy of Fifty Shades of Grey. Out of a pure literary interest, of course. 

I had resisted for the longest time. I wasn't going to pay money for such crap, and crap I was very sure it must be, judging from some of the comments I had seen online and from thousands of Amazon reviews (though there are also thousands more that nothing but rave). "Badly written" and "terrible language" and "flat characters" were some of the words floating around in the blogosphere. Just another example of bad writing going viral because, let's face it, many readers don't have terribly high standards. 

I was fully prepared to blast this book to smithereens in my review. I must say I'm willing to stand corrected, at least partially. I just finished the first book - okay, so I might have devoured it just a teensy little bit - and there is nothing wrong with the language. Unless you of course object to frequent sprinklings of holy cow and holy shit and, the crowning iteration, holy fuck. A lot of shades of holy somethings. Probably fifty of them, if one were to count. And a lot of terribly repetitive phrases describing such things as degrees of blushing and tingling skin. And pages upon pages of very teenage conversations the heroine, Ana, conducts with both her subconscious and her "inner goddess." Yes, the plot isn't all that complex. Yes, the characters are awfully shallow. Yes, most everything in the story is totally unrealistic, starting with the main character, the enigmatic Mr. Grey and his billion-dollar corporation which he, in his twenties, somehow successfully runs God knows when, because he is actually having sex around the clock. Or shopping for sex toys. Or writing suggestive emails. But I was expecting the typos, missed commas, or any number of grammatical errors that were so readily attributed to it in some comments I'd seen, and none of them were in this book. The editor, if nothing else, was very thorough. I'm a stickler for good English grammar, and if I can read this, anybody can. As, in fact, they all do.

The plot of the book is basically an excuse to string one erotic - one might call it kinky porn - scene after the other, each one more captivating (and, frankly, strange) than the last so that by mid-book you will readily insert all the holy craps yourself at the appropriate moments. The big question is, will Ana actually sign her lover's agreement to go along with all his weird bedroom demands, and all you can think as a reader is yes, please do, because you really want to know what else comes next. For all that's wrong with this book, and for as much as it goes against my grain to condone such shallowness, the author has figured out the one secret to successful writing: To get you to turn the page. And when you get to the end, to get you to buy the next book.

At something like forty million copies sold worldwide for the trilogy, she did succeed in that, I'd say. Holy crap.

There's one thing I can't get out of my head. If you believe the adage that you should write about what you know best - a theory that I am subscribing to, as you can see, which you'll agree is the reason I had to read this book, not some heretofore unbeknownst craving for the erotica genre  - it's actually more than a bit scary. What does her sex life look like, I wonder? I shudder to think of all the cookies on her internet browser from the extensive research she has evidently conducted into topics I had never even heard about in my life before reading this book. I blush to think of the Google ads she must be bombarded with.

But wherever she gets her inspiration from, let's face it, this woman can write a good yarn. So there you have it. Some fellow writers might chew me out for even suggesting it, but I'm taking my hat off to E L James (I'm pretty sure that's nowhere near her real name). Yes, given the choice I'd rather have written Harry Potter than Fifty Shades, but seeing as I did neither, it hardly matters.

I really should get started finding those thirty nine million nine hundred ninety nine thousand nine hundred and twenty eight additional readers for the stuff that I do write.

But first, please excuse me while I figure out how to delete a certain book from our Kindle archives, lest the kids download it for their bedtime reading.

***

And now for some blatant piggybacking: If you feel you must buy your own copy, do it here, so I can get Amazon Associates points:

Fifty Shades of Grey: Book One of the Fifty Shades Trilogy, Kindle version
Fifty Shades Darker: Book Two of the Fifty Shades Trilogy, Kindle version
Fifty Shades Freed: Book Three of the Fifty Shades Trilogy, Kindle version

And here for the fun spin-off ones:

A Guy's Secret Guide to Fifty Shades of Grey
Fifty Shades of Black and Blue (please note the author of this one, I B Naughtie)

Please do not tell my husband about this last one, or my life will become fifty shades busier:

A User's Guide for Fifty Shades of Grey: Hot Tips for Couples to Spice Things Up

4 comments :

The Loerzels said...

I haven't read it and don't have a kindle, but my friend went through a lot of trouble to delete it from hers for the exact same reason!

Sine said...

You're not missing much. Doesn't come close to your writing, Marie! Not that you write about such topics, didn't mean this to sound misleading:-) I still haven't figured out how to delete it, thx for reminder.

MsXpat said...

I've been hearing about this book for months and was wondering if I should read it but it sounds as though, I'm not missing much. It can stay on hold for some time yet.

I appreciate your objectivity.

Sine said...

MsXpat - yep, I'm sure you don't need to rush to get it. You almost feel like you have to read it just because everyone else has, but then it's invariably a disappointment. But it's a pleasant disappointment, if that makes sense. Like eating a not-so-great dessert where you feel afterwards that you wasted the calories.