Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Fifty Shades of Oh Jeez and Other Redundancy

I did it. I read Fifty Shades of Grey. And the experience was Fifty Shades of Someone Please Shoot Me and Put Me Out of My Misery.

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: Jeez!

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!



35 comments:

  1. I thought I read somewhere that the author self-published the book. Could explain the lack of grammatical clean-up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's what I heard too. Then it got picked up by a publisher and they were all "eh, what the hell? it's already doing well. no need to edit. we're not worried about our reputation or anything..."

      Delete
    2. Yes, apparently James published a serialized version of this story online with different characters as "Master of the Universe" under the pseudonym Snowqueen's Icedragon. Shame on the publisher for not editing!

      Delete
  2. Every single review I've read about this book convinces me to not waste my time reading it.

    I'm worried it will be one of those books I hate but can't put down because I've started it now and I have to see how it turns out. So I'm just going to not start reading it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In fairness, it's not a TERRIBLE story. It just needs a ginormous serving of editing. For a fair and balanced review, check out http://carabristol.com/2012/05/weighing-in-on-fifty-shades-of-grey/

      Delete
    2. Maybe I'll take it out from the library after it's been in circulation for a while. We have a mystery book borrower in our system who likes to "edit" books in pencil.

      It could make it worthwhile, just to see what the mystery editor does!

      Delete
  3. I'm just stuck on the fact that you're husband was reading the most brilliant book evah - while you were reading.....this. Can I get you a cold beverage? Something to ease the pain?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, you've read The Book Thief? I read the first few pages and can't wait to read it when the husband is finished. He says it's really good.

      Delete
  4. That oh my shit was the worst. I sent the garbage back to Amazon for a refund and deleted it from my Kindle. A 52 year old lady I know read them and is in love. She told me, " I just don't think anything else will live up to those books, so I haven't started reading anything new." My reply? "Oh, my."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nothing will live up to them?! Well, crap. I guess I'll just stop writing if the best book in the history of ever has already been written.

      Delete
  5. Good to know that I'm not the only one who was not impressed by the book.

    ReplyDelete
  6. You know, I did actually read one blog that said she read the book and actually did feel frisky enough to get it on with her husband for the first time in a long time...but most other people who write about it don't like it. And I think I'm going to skip it because if nothing else, I think the poor editing will make my head explode.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I have not even bothered to look at the book or be curious. See I write erotica myself, on my other blog. Guarantee you there are absolutely no 'oh my, jeez, or holy crap' anywhere, in anything I write. I will admit I have issues with punctuation, but spelling, word usage, and the ability to have a basic plot to it are things I insist on. I can get the same stuff by reading Penthouse or some other filth rag, which is exactly why I write my own erotica.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Oh my and crap....I totally have to read it now. jeez.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I feel like I've missed the boat on this book and I'm not sure whether it is worth the time to read it just to catch up to everyone else. Now that I will apparently be sent into a rage-stroke because of the sloppy writing, I'm even less encouraged.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I completely agree with your assessment of the book. My beef with the whole deal was more about the content. A 22 year old virgin in today's society who gets an A plus on her first ever blow job??? No gag reflex???? Then she's able to have multiple orgasms the first time she has sex??? Geez,she's some kind of wonder woman!!!! I wrote a post about it a few weeks back called Fifty Shades of Rednack Recap if you are interested.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My thoughts exactly! Cumming on demand, she's got a magical vagina. And to think, she was a virgin.

      Delete
  11. I thought this was funny http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/5c061dfb20/fifty-shades-of-blue-with-selena-gomez

    Aaaaaand in case you missed it on SNL http://www.hulu.com/watch/358341/saturday-night-live-amazon-mothers-day-ad

    ReplyDelete
  12. Jeez! Oh my! I think I'll pass.

    ReplyDelete
  13. So...tell me EXACTLY how you feel. I am not sure just yet! LOL

    ReplyDelete
  14. Holy cow, every time I come here, I wonder: why have ever let even one post go by.

    Felt good to read that and pisses me off that she's a best seller.

    I've been working and re working my short stories a thousand times over and still they come back, "too much, you hve too much."

    And this shit gets out there? WTF?

    This: so awesome. THANK YOU.

    The greatest gig in the world is the one 50 shades editor has. She should write "How to make a million bucks doing nothing."

    ReplyDelete
  15. I started it and then I gave up, the fricking format gave me a headache.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Not a single review of this book has made me want to read it... not even the positive ones.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Yeah, I was beginning to think myself the only person in the world who felt this way. http://jeans-ereading.blogspot.com/2012/05/50-shades-of-grey-review-only-3-stars.html. I found the book redundant, tedious, unbelievable and yes terrible writing. The only reason I relinquished my 3 stars was for the hot flashes in the beginning they were fun and because I was convinced the rest of the world read something I did not. No way in hell would I read the other 2, even if they were free.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Couldn't agree more! The writing/editing is atrocious, and I'm baffled at the popularity. Maybe it's just a tipping point thing. It got enough notoriety to make it safe for people who are normally too conservative to read erotica but secretly have always wanted to and that just opened the flood gates. Maybe any erotic fiction would have done the same thing and it was just timing.

    I wrote a similar review on my take as I move through the kindle percentages. http://www.mamamzungu.com/2012/04/50-shades-of-wtf-ery.html And maybe my toddler beaten sex drive just needed a boost, but I used the book as it was intended much to my long negelcted husbands' delight. ; )

    ReplyDelete
  19. Such a funny post! Laughed and enjoyed it! Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  20. She also had an orgasn the first time from him touching her boobs. It's a lot to live up to.

    HATED the "oh my" infestation. Sounded like a 63 yr old lady. Also "Laters, baby."

    Cranky today,
    Jill

    ReplyDelete
  21. I have yet to read it, primarily because... I'm a shitty reader (which most likely means I'll never be the successful author I dream of becoming). I did have someone loan it to me, though, and I enjoy kinky about as much as anything (so long as it doesn't require me to break a sweat or exert energy). :-) Anyway, until your confirmation, I assumed this sucker HAD to be like THE raunchiest book ever written. I couldn't really imagine how it could possibly be any more vulgar than some of the other smut I've read, but with all the hype, I was certainly curious. I'm glad you are saving me from reading the damn thing!

    ReplyDelete
  22. You know, I wasn't going to bother reading this book but your fabulous post--and some of the interesting comments--changed all that. Now 50 Shades is on my must-read list!

    ReplyDelete
  23. I have no desire to read it. Hell, I can't stand the Twilight characters on which this is based I highly doubt this would be an enjoyable read for me.

    Besides, is the #1 purpose of the internet to make porn, including erotic stories, readily available?! If I get in the mood for a naughty story I will just google it! ;)
    Jenn

    ReplyDelete
  24. I want to write a crappy book that makes assloads of money. Get me that editor on the phone STAT!

    ReplyDelete
  25. I couldn't have said it better. Thank you I totally agree.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I felt the same way. All the Holy whatevers and the !!!!

    It needed edited.

    Even if it had been, the story is not one that appeals to me. Not that I don't ever read smutty books, but this storyline is not something I find sexy. Grey was an ass.

    But congrats to the author for getting it published and all the hype- probably had some really awesome pr. Maybe pr money was spent instead of money on editing?

    ReplyDelete
  27. Enjoy the film but have been recommended to try the book which is apparently much better :)
    50 shades of grey movie

    ReplyDelete

I had to change my comment settings because I was getting too much spam. You can no longer comment anonymously. (I don't think anyone besides the spammers were doing this.) But I don't want to block the rest of you from commenting! If you're having trouble, tweet me at @sarcasmgoddess or email sarcasmgoddess at ymail dot com and I'll see what I can do to fix it.