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Fifty Shades

No, I did not drink the cool-aid, but this book (the trilogy) has electrified women across the country, who have spread the word like gospel on Facebook pages, at school functions and in spin classes. It sets the women in my office abuzz (I’m the only man in the office). My interns pore over it as soon as they are on break. At lunch in the pantry conversation would nudge to the terrain of this book. I heard buzz about how unbelievable the story is but at the same time it is addictive. Like for many of the bestsellers, my curiosity of Fifty Shades of Grey limits to pretty much what the blurb conveys. I have no desire to peruse it. Fifty Shades of Grey and the two other titles in the series were written by a British author named E L James, a former television executive who began the trilogy by posting fan fiction online. The books, which were released in the last year, center on the lives (and affection for whips, chains and handcuffs) of Christian Grey, a rich, handsome tycoon, and Anastasia Steele, an innocent college student, who enter into a dominant-submissive relationship.

My interns confirm that the people (themselves included) who are reading this are not only people who read romance. It’s gone much broader than that. It’s flat erotica—graphic, heavy-breathing erotica. Online reviewers have criticized the author for her plodding prose. Some even go as far as calling the novel written by a teenager. Even my boss read it but she concluded that if you take out the parts where the female character is blushing or chewing her lips, the book will be down to about 50 pages. Almost on every single page, there is a whole section devoted to her blushing, chewing her lips or wondering “gosh” about something or another. I think the book will only get bigger in terms of its success. What I found fascinating is that there are all these motivated, smart, educated women saying this was the greatest thing they’ve ever read for a long time. The last great hype I read was The Devil Wears Prada, and i read it after I saw the movie with Meryl Streep. Soft porn or no, I do have to give the author the credit, for she has written something that gales up a storm of discussion all over since Pride and Prejudice.

11 Responses

  1. Yeah, right, when I posted my review of the first book, I said that she probably couldn’t give a crap what I think. She is laughing all the way to the bank. It makes me sad that women have been reduced to this, thinking that it is good, romantic reading. But whatever. I did my job, I read the first book for book club, and I shall read no more. Total waste of my time.

    • You should have heard all the giggling and chortling in my office whenever someone talks about Fifty Shades. It conquers my office! I want to write about this “phenomenon” because I just don’t understand the hype.

  2. Goodness…you scared me. So glad you didn’t drink the Kool-aid! I refuse to read it. Not because I am a prude but because of the clunky writing.

    They say it will be a movie or series on HBO. At least, that is what I heard.

    • That’s why I said I did not drink the cool-aid right off the bat. LOL I thought Good Christian Bitches is trashy but it turns out it’s fairly well-written. I’m more of the “Dud Avocado” kind of guy. I’m reading it now and loving it.

  3. Every time I see this book on sale by bulk, I lament the loss of appreciation for what is good and beautiful. Some people can be blinded by hype but I never thought people could be this blind.

  4. This phenomenon is a total mystery to me as well. (Of course I didn’t get the Twilight thing either.) Life is too short to waste on bad books. For a hilarious take on Fifty Shades, I highly recommend the one star review by Lazycatfish at the Amazon UK site. If only the books were half as well written!

  5. Hi Matthew, my husband (also Matthew) turned me on to your site and I am in love with it. Huge fan of Stephen McCauley and David Leavitt as well, and loved your reviews. Do you ever consider e-books for review? I recently self-published one, and I am proud of the final product – more along the lines of McCauley and Leavitt than most of today’s pseudo-porn gay lit. I’d be honored if you’d consider it, I’m trying to get it off the ground. It’s called Man*hattan: A Fairy Tale, and it’s on Amazon as well as Smashwords. Here’s a link, although I’d be happy to send you a copy gratis: http://amzn.com/B008IXE5DO

    Thanks for considering!

    Phil Higgins

  6. This line cracks me up, “Even my boss read it but she concluded that if you take out the parts where the female character is blushing or chewing her lips, the book will be down to about 50 pages.” I have avoided these books because I’d heard about the mind-blowingly bad writing. I don’t think I could get past then, even if I needed a hard-core porn fix. 🙂


  7. I can’t bring myself to read this one no matter how many people tell me about it. The women in my book club were talking about it but even they admitted it was very poorly written. I don’t mind a bit of brain candy but this one sounds like Twilight to me…too much hype and not enough substance.

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