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Hengelo, the Netherlands
October 16
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MAY 19, 2012 6:10PM

50 Shades Appalled

Rate: 7 Flag

So I broke down and bought “50 Shades of Grey” for my e-Reader to see what all the fuss was about. I wish I hadn't; my brain and eyeballs need a Lysol dip.


Allow me to be frank, we're all friends here: I enjoy erotica. Not a steady diet of it you understand, but occasionally as you might enjoy Iranian caviar and Stoli. Nin, Friday, Saki, the poetry of Nizar Qabbani have all graced my bedside table and Penthouse Forum is always a reliable source for a crazy new idea or a good laugh. I've even employed bondage in an erotic story of my own, so I'm not exactly squeamish about taking a literary walk on the wild side. I felt really scheevy after putting down “50 Shades”.


I almost quit reading after Chapter 1. The main character, “Anastasia” (good grief! That's a porn name if ever I heard one), is a tedious girl-woman with difficult hair who is about to earn her undergraduate degree in either English or journalism. After chapter 1 her college major is irrelevant and I was bored with her already.


Anastasia gets involved by the kind of happenstance that only occurs in Penthouse Forum, with Mr. Grey. Mr. Grey is 27 years old, a gazillionaire, looks like a Greek god and has a package that will blow your mind, ring your bell and fly you to the moon. He's a conscientious boy though, he always carries a condom. His sexual predilection is Dominant.


Did I mention that Anastasia is a virgin? I'm guessing she's +/- 22 years old. Given that the average age one “loses” their virginity is 17.3 years, according to Wiki-ickypedia, my “willing suspension of disbelief” as a reader quit at this point. I have teenagers at home. I hear things.


Still no further as to what the fuss is all about, I skimmed to the highlights of the story and the “sexy” bits.


Anastasia is asked among other things to sign an non-disclosure agreement about whatever she and Grey get up to as well as a contract outlining specific sexual roles, behaviours, boundaries and obligations. It set my teeth on edge, but then BDSM isn't my thing, so I figured I was being prejudiced, set that aside and read further. This contract is negotiated throughout the story via email (which stinks as a literary device in this case) and in between a lot of sex happens.


Its not what they get up to that bothers me. Two consenting “adults”, whatever floats your boat, who am I to say...yaddayadda. What bothers me, what I found really filthy and disturbing is the businesslike approach to “contracting” this relationship and the incredibly naieve, stupid and embarassing way Anastasia believes that by accepting this “contract” she can make Grey love her. I mean she's read Hardy and probably D.H. Lawrence and (one would hope) Judy Blume. I felt as though I'd been watching a train wreck for entertainment and that felt immoral somehow.


Excuse me. I need to go rinse my mind in “The Tropic of Cancer”. 

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Sounds like a girl raised on reading romance novels- that's always the plot line. "If he has sex with me we will fall in love and get married." That was my "mentor" on the subject. Does that explain anything. ;0)

I will agree, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, worse than a stupid plot. You deserve a bottle of your favorite beverage, on this fine evening, for persevering your way through.
What is really scary about this is that we all KNOW the freaking movie can't be far off. Wonder who's gonna star in that one.
In the world of fetish sex a written contract that specifies hard limits is not an unusual form of agreement... for a fictitious gazillionaire a written agreement makes legal and financial sense as a precaution against blackmail... as far as the writing goes I can't comment, but the vast majority of mainline fetish fiction sucks rocks... I stick with the classics de Sade, Pauline Réage and if you're truly adventurous there's William S. Burroughs.
I think something like a Lonely Planet guide to London would be the better rinse! No people, no plot, no contracts, just nice buildings and places to eat. /R
Thanks for commenting, everybody.

Phyllis - I found the MC so unbelievable and rather unlikable. I kept wanting to slap her myself and say WAKE UP! What was it Pondie said a few posts back? " POOP OR GET OFF THE PORCELAIN"? Something like that. Its not the nature of the "relationship" but her immaturity dealing with the situation that got up my nose. Romance novels- I skipped the Miller and am reading "Lowcountry Summer" (which is actually a bit sexier than 50 Shades but falls under "romance"). Great dialog. Sexy S. Carolina sheriff. That's all I'm saying.

David, I wonder what the "Grumpy Men in the Balcony" from the Muppets will have to say on the subject.

Jmac - Didn't know that. Knew about "code words" but getting it in writing seemed so clinical, so cold, so this century.

Nilesite - you are absolutely right!

I guess I'm of the Stephen King school when it comes to erotica as well as horror fiction (paraphrasing here): What you can imagine is behind the door is always scarier/sexier than what I could tell you is behind the door. In the case of erotica, I don't want to know too much from the author about the psychology of the characters, I'd rather ponder it myself.
I read it and I didn't think it was BAD really, although my tastes lean more towards the likes of Sarah Dreher and Ann Bannon. 'Course, I like porn stories. My complaints about it was that there was too much corresponding and not enough eroticing. ;)
Well....Thank you for this. I wondered what these stories were about, and now that I know, I know I'm going to stay far, far away from them!
V.Corso,great Literature is indeed a salvation...I turn to it just to stoρ thinking of myself as a writer..Thank you for sharing and for the information.I hardly can remember a book that I fully read in one-two nights..I think it was a novel by Izabele Aliente.Good nights..I can understand the disaρρointment.Rated with wishes to reenjoy “The Tropic of Cancer”.
Loved this. Rated it. I was actually paid to review 50 Shades. Wouldn't have touched it otherwise. Thanks so much for this deliciously snarky review.