Why Am I Reading 50 Shades of Grey?

50 Shades of GreyYeah here’s something no one else is talking about.

Which is of course the MAIN reason I bought 50 Shades of Grey. People kept saying they’d read it and then nodded their heads and going “mmmm HMMMM.”

My friend said he went into Costco and a huddle of people were standing around the books reading it– right there in the store!

I mean, there is erotica already out there. People can probably go to their local library and check out Delta of Venus by Anais Nin or The Story of O (originally in French) by Pauline Reage. These would be written by actual writers.

I am not sure why I didn’t do that actually. I think I wanted to know what was so special about THIS book. I mean, it must have something about it that makes it better, different, more interesting that the rest of the millions of books available on Kindle everyday.

I am not sure why. Because first and foremost, the writing is terrible. Even if you AREN’T a writer or editor (someone who would notice right away), anyone reading this book must catch on to the following:

1. EL James constantly repeats the same words.  One example (there are MANY) is in the lead up to a sexual excursion Ana and Christian Grey she uses the phrase “my breath hitches.” I guess this word means that it “catches,” or she gasps a bit. It isn’t in the dictionary in that usage, but by the end of the book, you will be very familiar with this word. And also that Christian’s eyes “smolder” often.

2. Halfway through the book, nothing has happened. I like a bit of suspense, and the reader is offered a preview of the “Red Room of Pain” fairly early, but at the halfway point, Ana has still not signed the notorious CONTRACT to give herself in submission to Christian.

This isn’t really much of plot line, since this means in the last 100 pages, we have been treated to variations (some via email) on

“I am not sure about you”

“Well, let me demonstrate by barking orders at you via email”

“Tee hee. Still not convinced. Nighty night” Closes laptop.

DOOR SLAMS WIDE “HAH! I’m here in 6 seconds in my supersonic scooter.” Eyes smolder. “Now I’ll truss you up with this tie in my pocket.”

“Oh well, mayyyybeeee….”

3. The characters are flat. The main reason I am puttering out in the middle of this book is that I don’t really care at ALL about either Christian or Ana.

Not that she needs to wave the banner of feminism or be a super genius, but you’d at least want to like her for her flaws. She doesn’t have any, except being a bit klutzy, which apparently makes her even more appealing. And don’t even get me started on him.

But none of this gives me the answer to the question I started with!

WHY am I (and millions of others?) reading this book?

Is it lemming syndrome? Are we starved for mass market erotica? What do we LIKE about this book? Because people DO like these books enough to read all three of them, and talk about them.

I am not sure. Maybe it the WAY this book got published too that interests people, that it is a fanfic of Twilight, and that they already feel at home with these characters. I’ve never read those books, but I can imagine if you were obsessed with Edward, it wouldn’t be a leap to take his characteristics from your imagination and apply them to Christian.

I don’t know. Maybe in real life, we are tired of being superwomen.

This book (despite or even BECAUSE of it’s terrible yet accessible writing) is the Doris Day of our generation. Total escapism.

Once we might have ben satisfied with pirate romances featuring Fabio on the cover. Those books (I always was partial to ones written by Johanna Lindsey when I was younger) had their fair share of steamy sex and bodice ripping.  The girl got tossed around like a rag doll and never had to worry about planning the adventure, or dinner. Love always reigned in the end.

Maybe that’s the appeal. The fantasy of love where the woman gets to do nothing.

Submission equals release.

So, should I finish it? I can’t decide!

 

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Elizabeth Howard

Elizabeth writes literary non-fiction, haiku, cultural rants, and Demand Poetry in order to forward the cause of beautiful writing. She teaches and speaks about the rhetorical impact of beautiful writing. A recent transplant to Connecticut, she calls London, Kansas City, and Iowa home. 

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  4 comments for “Why Am I Reading 50 Shades of Grey?

  1. July 15, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    Elizabeth, I haven’t read the book. but then, I suspect I’m not the target market for it.

    I’d say quit while you’re ahead. You’ve got the essence of the book already. Check the Cliff Notes version to find out what happens in the end.

    • July 17, 2012 at 7:26 am

      Paul, I am giving up today! He just bought her car! AH! What is happening in the world. Ergh

  2. July 16, 2012 at 2:18 am

    All I can say is…don’t do it to yourself.

    • July 17, 2012 at 7:25 am

      Thanks love… I am going to stop today. I need a book to replace it. Suggestions? I have a HUGE-normous stack on my bedside table that I need to clear off.

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