Fifty Shades of Conundrum

I recently succumbed to the temptation to step away from #theLIST and pick up the much-ballyhooed Fifty Shades of Grey. I am now fifty shades of confused and conflicted.

I cannot say that this was a good book in which there was some big revelation. I cannot say this book was well written. In fact, this book is as poorly written as any piece I’ve seen in years, to include Twilight, which I thought was a complete waste of paper. In fact, I question whether it was worth the electrons necessary to download it digitally, so I did not. I borrowed my teenage daughter’s set. “Hackneyed” is the best word I can use to describe it. And, sadly, Fifty Shades of Grey was even more wretched. Who knew that was possible?

I cannot say our heroine, Ana, was compelling. I hesitate to say she is even interesting.

I cannot say our hero, Christian, was anything other than apparently an outstanding looking man who wears linen shirts, black jeans, and Converse tennis shoes. Somehow, the whole Converse thing does not make him cool, to me. It makes him a bad dresser. However, stuff hangs off his hips constantly and I am stunned that he does not glow in the light. This dude glows in the dark.

I cannot say that the plot even existed. A series of events occurred, but I would hardly call it a plot.

And yet – I continued to read. The entire writing style, with its internal dialogues with “inner goddesses”, which I apparently do not have, was artificial at best and stupid at worst. The continual series of e-mails between our hero and heroine were, at times, amusing and, at other times, pathetic. They were certainly contrived to move the lack of plot along without the author having to think too much. The author needs a much larger vocabulary and needs to abandon the word “clamber” immediately. Also, our heroine’s continual “Holy (insert expletive here)!” exclamations eventually wear on the nerves and have all the impact of a Robin/Batman exchange.

“Holy editing fail, Batman!”

And yet, I kept reading.

I know, deep in my heart, that I will read the two sequels, just as the little Twi-hards read all those miserable Twilight books.

Somehow, this book has made inroads into selling pseudo-erotica to the mainstream adult female population. I say pseudo-erotica, because even that is not particularly well done. It certainly is not as hard core as the press makes out. Sure, it has its hot points, but it also has its “yuck” points. The two kind of cancel each other out.

But here is the conundrum – I kept reading. Part of it is the literary equivalent to rubber-necking – when something is so terrible you keep looking to make sure you saw it correctly. Part of it my inner writer, who, unlike an inner goddess, is looking for what is marketable in today’s “romance” (using the term quite loosely) genre. And part of it is that I want to buy into the fantasy.

You see, I lead a hum-drum life. I have a nice husband who is uncomplicated, is able to commit to a relationship, and certainly is not Midas-level rich. As Grey showers Ana with gifts and experiences (of all sorts, on most of which I will take a pass), the fantasy is not in the sex. The fantasy is that she can change this twisted sex-god into an ordinary guy, like my husband.

Can love change a man? It certainly did for good old Bella and Edward. It took her four books to get him to marry her and have their cross-breed baby and become a vampire. How long will it take our heroine to turn the fantastic Mr. Grey into an ordinary guy who is willing to invest all his considerable worldly goods and other goodies in only our ordinary heroine?

E.L. James is selling a fantasy – but it has nothing to do with kinky sex. It is the fantasy that we, as women, can fix damaged men and make them ordinary.

Hmmm. Now I’m really in a conundrum. Take the exotic, make it ordinary, and call it a fantasy? I thought it was the other way around. . .

Anyway, Fifty Shades and I will be spending some time together. Not because it is a worthy read. It is not. But it gives me some insights into what the adult woman theoretically wants from a romance novel.

I really don’t recommend this series to anyone who actually has a grain of sense. However, I am not finished rubber-necking. I’ve got to see this fantasy through to the end.

I begin to question my intelligence. It is not the first time. It won’t be the last. But this, indeed, is a serious blow to my supposed intellect. Believing in Fifty Shades is like watching the Real Housewives of New Jersey and thinking they are real housewives. I don’t believe. But I do love a disaster. It is a conundrum to be discussed in therapy, I think.

I give this book 3 hearts. And that is a pretty dang generous rating.


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