Some of you may be saying, "If it was so bad, why didn't you just stop reading it?"
The answer is, quite simply, curiosity.
And now all of you are saying, "Yeah, right. You wanted to read some kinky sex."
But let me share a little secret with you guys. Fifty Shades of Grey is not the first book of its kind. That's right, erotica is everywhere. Even in my small, sleepy, geriatric, conservative town one can walk into the Books-A-Million, order a caramel latte and slurp it down while perusing an entire aisle of sexytime books, complete with throbbing manhoods and quivering innocents.
In fact, you can even check them out at the library. For reals, yo. You don't even need to shamefully lower your head and ask for the key to the secret naughty room. They're just thrown right in with the rest of the romance. Unbeknownst to me, the Dewey Decimal System does not have a special code to differentiate between erotica and romance, which means one minute I was reading (what I thought) was another silly romance and the next I'm all, "huh, well that's an interesting use of pearls."
So you see, I was curious. What made this book so different than the others in this genre? How did a book like this become "acceptable" to the masses? Why are people talking about this book and not the hundreds (thousands?) like it?
After reading it, I realize there is only one answer to this question: I Have No Freaking Idea.
The most shocking thing about Fifty Shades of Grey is the lack of editing. My editor yells at me for using the word "and" too many times, yet every other word in Fifty Shades is either oh my, holy crap/shit, or jeez.
What, did the editor get so hot and bothered that she slipped into a sex-induced coma rendering her physically incapable of editing? Or perhaps she desperately wanted to edit it, but Mr. Grey has her tied up in his Red Room of Pain beyond the reach of her computer, the holy craps, oh mys and jeezes mocking her poor eyes.
As a reader, the repetition was annoying as hell. As a writer, I just don't get it. How did this get published. How?????
He kissed my neck, oh my!
Holy crap, he's hot!
Jeez, he's mad!
The protagonist is supposed to be a twenty-one year old college student. She sounds like a preteen girl in a constant state of surprise. And it's not just the sex stuff that has her perpetually gasping. Ev-a-ree-thing shocks her. Everything.
I don't blame E.L. James for this. I blame her editor. Sometimes, writers write crappy books. In fact, a lot of times we write crappy books. And we have no idea. We are so in love with our hot mess of words we can't see the redundancy, inconsistencies and in-general craptastic-ness of our labor of love. In other words, writers are like parents who have no idea their child is ugly. Or, if they do, love them no matter what. As they should. Every child deserves to be loved. However, every child also deserves a brutally honest beauty consultant. "Your unibrow is starting to take over your whole face and unless you want to be known as the wolf-lady you need to wax that shit."
Editors are the beauty consultants of the literary world. Unfortunately for Ms. Anastasia Steele, it's going to take more than a little waxing to make her, her inner goddess and her subconscious bearable. Mr. Grey is supposed to be the one with the issues -what, with his proclivity for handcuffs and flogging - but if you ask me, Ms. Steele is the one in need of a shrink. That woman suffers from multiple personalities disorders, each one more unlikeable than the next.
I've heard that some men are buying the book in the hopes of getting their wives in the mood. I hate to break it to you, husbands, but the chances of this happening are not good. Last night, the husband and I were each reading on the patio. Fifty Shades of Frustration for me and The Book Thief for the husband. Within minutes, I am ranting.
Me: What the...holy crap! oh my! Jeez! Every. Single. Paragraph. Nay! Every sentence! Where's the editor?!
The husband (glancing up from his book): Not good, huh?
Me: How did this get published?!
Me: There it is again! Holy crap!
A few seconds later...
Me: Oh my!
Me: Oh my!
Me: Oh look, some more righteous feces.
Me: Oh my!
And on and on and on I ranted until the husband looked up in annoyance. "You don't have to point it out every time, you know."
In case anyone is curious, 1 frustrated wife + 1 annoyed husband does not equal happy, sexy, fun time. Instead of getting it on, we were about to fight over which one of us could throw the book over the balcony first.
And also? I know we all have our sayings when we are in the throes of passion (yeah baby), but oh my? Really? Oh my? Every time I read those two words I heard the voice of my 86 year old grandmother, followed by an uncomfortable giggle. I'm sure we can ALL agree that "sex" or any words relating to sex and your "grandmother" should NEVER be uttered, thought about or even considered in the same sentence.
And while we're on the topic of things that aren't sexy, apparently Mr. Grey has long fingers. Like really long. So long, in fact, that they are described as such no less than fifty thousand times. Oh my, his long fingers ran through his hair and then holy crap his long finger pressed the elevator button, jeez his fingers are loooooong.
Every time I read about his long fingers, I pictured this guy:
|Screw Ryan Gosling. E.T. is America's new sex symbol.|
Let me be clear, I am not criticizing James. I don't take issue with the content. I don't think the book is utter trash. I'm not annoyed that it's flying off the shelves. In fact, I congratulate James for writing a best-seller. If the market likes it, who cares what the critics think? (And in truth, I feel bad for criticizing it. Writing is hard. Putting yourself out there to be criticized is even harder. Writing a best-seller is even more harder <-- hey, hey, hey look at that good writing! So, Ms. James, if you ever happen upon this "review" please feel free to comment along the lines of "you think my writing's bad? how many books have you published?")
But as a writer, I just don't get it. Someone, please explain to me how James got away with breaking the rules. All the rules! Over and over and over and over again. I don't care the genre or the subject matter, there is NO EXCUSE for sloppy writing.
I repeat, where was the editor?! This book would have been infinitely better had just half of the holy craps, oh mys, and jeezes been cut out. Yes, there were other problems with the book, but I could have overlooked them and even enjoyed the book (yeah baby) if not for the blatant redundancy.
After tweeting about my bafflement, some people have asked me if they should bother reading it. My answer? It depends. If you are a reader, how much patience do you have for bad writing? If you are a writer, I implore you to read it. It's a great example of what not to do. Unless, of course, I am missing something. Maybe I wouldn't know good writing if it chained me to the bed and flogged me.
Someone, please. Explain it to me. I am Fifty Shades of Confused.
P.S. If my editor is reading this, I love you.
P.P.S. Keep writing, Ms. James. Ignore those critics. Unless one happens to be your editor, in which case...never mind. Congrats on the bestseller!