Friday, June 1, 2012

The Blah And The Grey -- Part 1

If you have ever read site before, you know about my liveblogs. They're not actually liveblogs, of course, but that's what I called them when I first came up with the concept and I'm too lazy to change the tag on the posts but none of this is your problem. Anyway, the liveblog is me watching bad movies and writing down rude, MST3K style comments as I do so. Today, however, the time has come to shake things up. I won't be watching a movie today. I'll be reading, and making real-time comments about, a book. Oh, not a whole book. Just the sample that Amazon lets me read for free as there's no way in hell I would actually pay for it. You've heard of this book and can probably guess from this post's title what it is. Amazon assures it is, "Erotic, amusing, and deeply moving," and that it, "will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever." Something tells me it won't but, just in case it does, let me say goodbye now to friends and loved ones before I am forever obsessed with and possessed by E.L. James' 50 Shades of Grey.

All rightie, let's get moving. There's always a chance I could die by heart attack or wolverine attack or whatever and I don't want my family finding this in my Kindle, thinking it's my favorite book and having some sort of 50 Shades-themed funeral. My doubts about this book's quality are not calmed when I see it's being narrated by the lead character, a girl named Ana. First person narration doesn't work as well as authors think it does. That's my opinion anyway. Still, I guess I have no reason to think that this self published book by an inexperienced author won't be the exception to my opinion and I can't wait until it moves me to buy the whole book. Anyway, Ana is bitching that her roommate, Kate, is sick and forcing her to conduct an interview on her behalf. They are both students at a university in Vancouver, Washington ad Kate, a journalism major, has scored a rare interview with elusive gazillionaire Charles Grey but she's sick and Ana must do it for her. Why English Lit major Ana has to do it even though she doesn't want to instead of one of Kate's fellow student journalists who would almost certainly jump at the chance is not entirely clear. Oh wait, I figured out that Kate probably still wants to write the article herself at the same time I realized it's probably not at all important and I shouldn't give a damn. After an exciting moment when we wonder whether Kate will take Nyquil or Tylenol to treat her cold (it was Nyquil)(sorry if you considered that a spoiler), Ana begins the long drive to Seattle to meet with Grey and I begin to think that the four pages I've read so far could have had been easily condensed to a few paragraphs although then we would have missed the exciting "Nyquil or Tylenol" moment and that, so far, has been the most exciting thing that has happened.

The first thing Ana learns when she arrives at Grey's corporate headquarters is that all of Grey's employees are extensively trained in condescending and mildly dickish behavior. Hey, wait a minute, Ana just gave her full name to the receptionist. Ana's full name is Anastasia Steele? Anastasia Steele is a name you have when you're battling the Justice League, not when you're an English Lit major. Why are women in books like this never named Myrtle Groggins? Anyway, Grey's employees, all of whom seem to be attractive blond women but he's rich so I guess he can afford the discrimination suits, go out of their way to passive/aggressively let Ana know that they are two or possibly three times better than she is and Ana has a self-esteem problem so she's pretty much in agreement. She assumes Grey is in his 40s. She assumes this because she's incredibly ignorant and has done zero research to prepare for this interview. Yes, she's doing this as a favor but she doesn't even skim the guy's Wikipedia entry? Anyway, it turns out Christian Grey is 27 and so handsome that Ana will look back on this moment with pride because she was able to restrain from fingering herself and lunging at his pants with her mouth wide open. Either of those would have been more dignified than what she actually did though. First, she completely forgets how to hold onto her digital recorder then she starts asking her friend's questions without reading them. After a few banal questions about how he achieved his success (his answers basically boil down to "I'm just awesome"), she asks him if he's gay. She puts 100% of the blame for this on her friend Kate and none of it on the fact that she lacked the basic competence and common sense required to at least read these questions ahead of time and not just blurt them out. For some reason though, Grey finds her fascinating despite the fact that she comes off as an uncoordinated dumbass who tripped when she first entered his office and didn't even bother to dress up for the interview. Despite all this, he does seem enamored with her and said he looks forward to meeting her again. This means Grey realizes he's in some sort of wish fulfillment romance novel and wants to play to his audience.

So, there you go. For some reason, chapter one has not made me want to hit the "Buy this with 1 Click" button on Amazon despite the promise that, by now, it would possess me forever. There is a second chapter available that, for some reason, I'm not at all inclined to read despite the fact that I really want to know if the Nyquil made Kate better or if she should have taken the Tylenol. I'm not sure if it's the clunky dialogue, unbelievable situations or the stupid names that turned me off but hey, why can't it be all three? Perhaps if the sample chapter had included some of the infamous dirty, dirty sex that everyone who mentions the book talks about, I may have been more inclined to buy or at least less inclined to trash it. The story that this book started off as Twilight fan fiction does not surprise me since once again I have been exposed to a story about an incredibly handsome, dynamic and powerful young man inexplicably falling for an average looking girl who is depressed, mumbles a lot and seems so uncomfortable in her own skin that you'd think her skin was made of itchy wool. Despite all this, the American reading public has once again taken this crap and made it a publishing phenomenon that's already destined for the big screen. Oh well, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Here is my Twilight fan fiction which I will rewrite as a novel.

Bella swooned as Edward read some dull, pretentious poetry. They then went out and did some vampire stuff then came home and dry humped for six solid minutes, an experience Bella enjoyed despite Edward smacking her head into a wall.

 I will now take that and turn it into a best seller called Six Minutes of Dry in which a girl named Katrina Romanov only spends six minutes with gorgeous billionaire Alexander Dry before falling madly in love with him. Look for it next year. You won't like it but you will buy it anyway and that is all that counts.


miglet said...

I did read the entire thing (I didn't pay for it. I'm not an idiot).

The only thing I have been haunted by is how utterly awful the writing is which considering the woman said in a TV interview that she typed out using her Blackberry isn't surprising.

Two things:

1. He hires the blondes because he's not attracted to them. Or something. I could be wrong. I'm not looking it up though.

2. The dirty, dirty sex scenes are blatantly un-sexy and full of details that the author has (again in TV interviews) said that she researched on Wikipedia which also makes sense.

I take it back. I'm also haunted by the tampon scene but who can blame Christian really. He flew across the country to be with her. Of course he's not going to let her menstruation stop him.

Michael Clear said...

The first clue (and only clue needed) about the overall quality of the book is that it started its life as Twilight fanfiction. Also, hiring blonds because you're not attracted to them is as much grounds for a discrimination suit as it is when you hire them for the opposite reasons.

I'm tempted to read the whole thing, write a book length version of this article and publish it and I would if I could get more than a handful of people to read stuff like this when it's free.

Joolz said...

I read the whole thing and, yes, I paid for it, because I am an idiot. I was just so curious about all the hoopla. I agree with miglet's comments, though I don't remember the tampon scene but I could be blocking it. Other thoughts:

1) I'm not surprised that this started as "Twilight" fanfic. It's written as-if for a 13 yr old. If a 13 yr old were allowed to read erotica.

2) I really don't understand how adult women are getting so worked up about this book, even if only for the sex scenes. There must be a lot of repressed, sexually ignorant women in this country. I feel sorry for them. BTW, this comment applies to the author as well ;) .

Michael, you have to read the whole thing. You just have to. The pain must be shared. Might I also suggest "Jamestown: A Novel" by Matthew Sharpe ( One of the worst books I have ever read. You will enjoy it.

Julia/Jules/Joolz :)

miglet said...

I'm sorry Joolz. I didn't mean to call you an idiot.

I just happened upon it for free online. I read it in its fan fic form which I have verified against the book versions that aside from the names it's the same. In fact, I think that I maybe enjoyed it a BIT (because I didn't enjoy it at all) because it was in fan fic form and free.


I'm going to check out Jamestown RIGHT NOW.

Joolz said...

LOL miglet... I didn't think take your comment that way :) . I was making fun of myself. Actually, I'm glad I read it only in that if I can actually find someone who is willing to debate the merits (or not) of the novel with me I'll know what I am talking about. But, so far I can find no one. Most of the women that liked the novel are very young and sometimes there's just no way to debate with a young person in a healthy way. So, I sit on my fingers a lot. And not in the good way :) .

What bothers me the most is that there is much better, well-written erotica out there written by authors who know what they are writing about. This novel is basically a Twilight-level novel with repetitious dirty parts. And there will probably be a movie made from it because the production companies see the popularity of the novel and see nothing but dollar signs. *sigh*


miglet said...

I know exactly how you feel. I pretty much don't name it or the author on Twitter because I don't want to deal with its "fans".

A few months ago, I posted something nasty about it (this as right after I first read it), and a man who had not read it started to debate me about my opinion of it being bad. Basically "from everything I've heard it's great". So when stating that those opinions are fantastic but not mine, he then got on me about reading the whole thing if I hated it.


After stating your above point about having to read it so that I know what I'm talking about when I say it stinks to high heaven, he backed off. but it surprised the hell outta me.

That was just a long way of's tough to engage anyone about these books because of the this fervor that it's the best thing next to sliced bread.

I agree with you about better-written erotica. There is so much more out there that should be celebrated. Hell, I've been reading Harlequin romances since I was 19 years old and, with a few exceptions, those authors have elicited far more "erotic moments" *cough* for me than what she wrote.

I don't know if you're on Tumblr but there's a great blog called "Fifty Shades of Suck" and they pull out quotes and then comment on them viciously. Must find a link.

Joolz said...

"50 Shades of Suck" is.... AWESOME! I lost it when I red this excerpt from the third book and her comment:


"I like this,” he murmurs, stroking then kissing my belly. “There’s more of you.”
I pout. “I don’t like more of me.”
“It’s great when you come.”
“And I’m looking forward to the taste of breast milk again.

Fifty Shades Freed, Epilog.

ok well i’m going to go kill myself now. i truly cannot live in a world where the right’s to this book sold for five million dollars.


OMG I'm still laughing. Jesus Christ. There just are no words lol...

Michael - I bet you really want to read all 3 books now lol!


Joolz said...

I meant "read this excerpt" lol! Even reading the excerpts gives me mush-brain :) .

miglet said...

I loved the one they did the other day that I can't recite off memory but the one when he puts the headphones on her and HER INNER GODDESS (probably, since that bitch never shut up) said, "I hope it's not rap.".

And the blogger was like:

"Rap wants nothing to do with this."

Seriously, Michael, do you want me to send you my copy?

Michael Clear said...

The library has a LONG waiting list but it's probably just as well. I wouldn't want people to see me reading it. If I do this, I'll get the Kindle edition though I shudder when I think of what my Amazon recommendations will look like after that.

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