Fifty shades of what?

The things I do for this blog. As a feminist with a degree in literary studies, the last thing that I should be doing on the weekend is reading one of the Fifty Shades of Grey while my husband watches the football on TV.  But that’s what’s happening now.

As most people in the western world seem to know, Fifty Shades is the latest blockbuster book series that’s outselling the Harry Potter books, the Da Vinci Code and Twilight all rolled into one. It’s especially popular with women of a certain age, because we’re meant to like ‘mummy porn’ and Mills and Boon  (and our sex lives at home are so boring that we need to read trashy novels featuring  Wartenberg wheels and nipple clamps.)

The problem is that the sales figures prove that many women do like this kind of thing, and bookshops and libraries are getting readers in by the score. So from that point of view, I can’t complain – half the battle for us these days is getting people through the door. And once I walk past the Fifty Shades display at the front of my local bookshop, I can see lots of other fabulous books on the shelves that people might want to buy.

I don’t like offensive gender stereotyping (rich, powerful, emotionally -damaged man dominates submissive, silly woman) and I don’t like cliché – ridden, bad writing. I agree entirely with these comments here. I think that there are dozens of better modern gothic novels and far more sophisticated erotic fiction to read.

But I feel I can’t criticize something I haven’t read, so here I am on the sofa with Fifty Shades Darker. It’s really bad, and I’m certainly not going to get to the end, at page 532. But at least I tried.

I miss him. It’s been five days, five days of agony that has felt like an eternity. I cry myself to sleep at night, wishing I hadn’t walked out, wishing that he could be different, wishing that we were together. How long will this hideous overwhelming feeling last? I am in purgatory.

Poor Anastasia – I know just how she feels. I’m in purgatory, too.

Because this is only page 8 and I’ve got 524 more pages to go…

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9 Comments

Filed under Miscellanea

9 responses to “Fifty shades of what?

  1. Lucy

    Love the review – reminds me of the one and only time I thought I should read a Mills and Boon – just to see what I was missing out on.

  2. Ainsley

    I read Twilight, but I’m leaving this one alone. My devotion to crap fiction only goes so far.

  3. John

    I just laugh when you take a closer look at the sales figures. The first book has HUGE numbers sold, the second about a 1/3 of the first, and the last one has about a 1/3 of the seconds. So people are buying the first book because of the hype, reading it, and thinking “ok, it’s bad, but I’ll try the next one maybe”, buying that and discovering it doesn’t get any better, and either giving up, or persevering simply so they can say they finished it.

  4. Mary

    Thank you thank you thank you Jennifer! Wonderfully written review and I couldn’t agree more. Mary

  5. “The first thing to say about this decade’s multi-million-selling contributor to the art of terrible writing about sex is that she will not easily be mistaken for Andrea Dworkin. It’s not that Fifty Shades of Grey and E.L. James’s other tie-me-up-tie-me-down spankbusters read as if feminism never happened: they read as if women never even got the vote…”

    From Andrew O’Hagan’s clever, funny review

    http://www.lrb.co.uk/v34/n14/andrew-ohagan/travelling-southwards

  6. Sonja

    Thank you for taking one for the team. I don’t think I would hate this kind of offfensive trash as much as I do if it wasn’t as popular as it is! I was kind of disappointed to see that we actually have this in the library now too …

    • I am overwhelmed with disbelief by my discovery this morning that we have this in the library! So much for the book selection process in academic libraries – something has gone seriously awry here…

  7. “These pulsating parts are also influenced by the throbbing…”

    A line from 50 shades of what? No! It’s from here:

    http://theconversation.edu.au/the-brainless-slime-mould-that-remembers-where-its-been-10015

    This is also good: from author Katy Darby’s blog:

    Agreed. The new title may be more supermarket-friendly, but do people buy books in supermarkets? I never have. The other day I saw Fifty Shades lurking in among the cocktail snacks at Waitrose, as if to say, “You bought our dry white wine and organic breadsticks, you might like to try a little over-hyped soft porn with that”.