Two or three weeks ago I started hearing cryptic references to the book Fifty Shades of Grey followed by giggling and prophetic eye rolling. I was led to believe it was the new Lady Chatterley's Lover or Tropic of Cancer (spoiler: it ain't), so I figured I'd give it a whirl if only for blogfodder.
About five minutes after I bought the damn thing I figured out it was part of a trilogy which started out as Twilight fan fiction. WTF is fan fiction? Really? Ugh. That's when I started wanting to flog myself, but didn't know how. Good news! Some old, horny, British woman "wrote" a "book" about it.
I know two things about Twilight. It's about vampires and that's all I want to know about Twilight. So I just read this like it was a regular, stand-alone, book. I hope that's okay. Let's begin.
Anastasia Steele is a near college graduate who happens to be a virgin, not because of some moral code, but because up to this point she's never experienced so much a butterflies from lust and/or romantic love in her life. I guess. The first paragraph is devoted to a bad hair day. And away we go.
She gets... roped... into interviewing ultra-rich tycoon, Christian Grey, for her ill roommate. It's for the school paper. No really. And that's how the most extreme virgin in literary history meets the most this kinky, kinky, kinky man. I mean he's really kinky, but it's hot because he's rich and powerful and young and good-looking, not like if a pizza delivery guy was into the exact same shit. That would be gross because he's poor. And it would be porn not erotica. Erotica is fancy.
There are several peculiar things Ms. James (if you're nasty) seems hellbent on highlighting throughout the book. The first is that Ana Steele is an unrefined brunette, possibly a tomboy. It seems very important to Ms. James that we understand Miss Steele wears Converse. A brunette, virgin in sensible shoes. Just bein' into that makes the dude a freak, right?
During the interview he does things like rub his lips a lot, which apparently unleashes his special carnal magic over Miss Steele who spends the following days obsessing over him, then obsessing over why she's obsessing. OK, that part is realistic for brunettes in the Pacific Northwest who wear Converse in their early twenties... I've heard.
Steele describes Grey as Adonis-like repeatedly, but we know James isn't really Charlie Sheen or anything because there are no lesbians in this book. Where are all the guys going?
Grey eventually shows up at Steele's workplace where he buys a bunch of zip-ties - hint, hint. Bada-bing, bada-boom, she winds up at his fancy apartment where he introduces her to his "red room of pain", explains he's a dom looking for a sub and wants her to sign a contract essentially agreeing to be his sex slave, and if that premise repulses you it's because you're a prude. She decides to give it a whirl for reasons that make as little sense as me continuing to read this book.
Alas, I have a fetish for finishing things. At this point I decide that Christian Grey is Frank Reynolds. Hey, you have your erotica, and I have mine.
The rest of the book is a series of porno-passages taking place in the "red room of pain" which I'm told are arousing to a lot of women who've never had the shit beaten out of them, broken up by saccharine, adolescent email transcripts. The bulk of the plot seems to be Steele getting into BDSM a bit and Grey developing genuine loving feelings for Steele. SHE CAN CHANGE HIM!
It's as if we took all the Lifetime movies, made them into a scalding hot stew, put on some assless chaps, poured it on each other, realized it hurt, left screaming, but hesitated because stew is delicious... just not when it's that hot.
What sustenance shall we survive on now?
How about the hot latino who's been wasting away for 500 pages? It's an obvious choice because it works.