Posts Tagged ‘E.L. James’
I should be elated. Nora didn’t like the third book in the trilogy at all. But getting her to talk about it was really hard. All she’d say was that the main characters got married and lived happily ever after. (Oh no! I hope I haven’t just spoiled it for you. But there’s a clever twist! Read on.)
“What didn’t you like about it?” I asked Nora.
“I really started to hate the woman, Ana.”
“She’s just so feeble. And the sex isn’t arousing any more.”
“But isn’t that what happens in marriage?”
“I don’t know. It’s supposed to be a happy ending. Actually at the end it kind of goes back to the beginning and you get to see things from his point of view, which I thought was quite clever.”
“I see. So you get depths?”
“Not really. You’ll have to read it yourself, I suppose.”
What a forbidding thought!
I dipped into it with grim circumspection. It was a lot worse than I expected. The dialogue was so flat it depressed me. The limp sentences had no forward motion, weighed down by one hackneyed phrase after another.
Paraphrasing loosely from the chapter called MEET FIFTY SHADES…
As I stared into my dreary electronic screen, an unfamiliar ennui seeped into my consciousness. My mood became as flat and grey as the Mr. Grey in my Kindle. The heavy minutes blended together with no distinction, and even the prospect of seeing a fresh-faced virgin get fucked again and again in more and more painful ways failed to provide any kind of diversion.
The leaden sentences of my review popped unbidden into my empty thoughts. I was aware that I’d sound like a sulky teen but I didn’t give a fuck.
How can this woman be called a writer? Oh Christ! Surely she can do better than this? What a fucking dull book. Not one iota of originality. It’s disappointing.
Don’t bother with this. You can supply your own characters, your own sex scenes, your own plot. Definitely supply your own ending. It’s bound to be more imaginative than the book’s.
Nora and I do not usually give each other expensive presents but I made an exception at Christmas when I bought her a Kindle. It was getting embarrassing because she kept borrowing mine and commenting on how much porn I was reading.
I asked her all through January and February, “Have you used your Kindle yet?”
“No, I’ve been too busy.”
“Too busy even for my shorter stories?”
“I haven’t figured out how to download any yet. What I want to read isn’t on the Kindle.”
She was reading the letters of the Mitford sisters. It was taking her an age. So in March I stopped asking. I never expected that in April she would go behind my back and figure out how to download Fifty Shades Darker. A paid version. Not like the free Fifty Shades of Grey I gave her.
“I hope you’re not becoming addicted to bad writing,” I told her.
“Is it bad writing?” she asked innocently.
“Susan Hill says so.”
“She’s an English novelist. She says women who read it should be ashamed of themselves. It’s not just porn. It’s badly-written porn.”
“I don’t think anyone should feel ashamed. All women have desires. But the sex in this one isn’t arousing anymore.”
“What? You’ve grown tired of it already? You need something more hardcore now?”
“Well, it’s like in a horror film that starts off with a very scary image. But then you keep on seeing it and it stops being scary.”
“Isn’t it also because it’s badly written?”
“No, I don’t think it’s badly written. Well, I can’t judge. I can’t write English. I can’t write a sex scene. I can do it but I can’t write it. How do you write it without repeating any words?”
“But you’re still enjoying it?”
“I enjoyed the story. I wanted to know what happened.”
“Enjoyed? Have you finished it already?”
“I’m reading the next one now.”
“I’m a very quick reader.”
“No you’re not. You were reading that Nancy Mitford book for months.”
“Well, this is different. It’s full of clichés but you want to know what happens next. Every chapter ends on a cliffhanger.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll read another of your stories eventually.”
I ran straight to my room, fell onto my bed, shoes and all, and howled. I curled up, desperately clutching my black silk blindfold, and surrendered myself to my grief.
I took a week off from the tough business of writing explicit sex stories last week and went to the London Book Fair. I was hoping to forget about sex completely and meet a suave, European intellectual who could talk to me about concertina folds, bump exposure and blind embossing. Instead I was handed a free copy of Fifty Shades of Grey.
Naturally I started reading it as soon as I got home. Not at the beginning, of course. I’m far too impatient for that. I wanted the sex.
It didn’t take me long to discover that the book was a page-turner.
Disturbed by the wails coming from my room, my flat-mate, Nora, banged on the door and burst in. “What’s wrong?” she demanded.
“Holy cow!” I cried. “Take this book away from me, please!”
“Is it that bad?”
“No, it’s that good! I can’t waste time with this shit, I’ve got my own shit to write.”
That was six days ago. Tonight Nora came into the kitchen. “I’ve finished that book,” she said breezily.
“Yes. I’ve never read a book so quick in my life!” (Nora is a slow reader.)
“And? What’s your opinion? It was crap, wasn’t it?”
“No, actually it was quite good.”
“You enjoyed it?” (Incomprehension.)
“Well, the BDSM stuff was a turn-off. I just like normal sex. But the normal sex was not bad, actually.”
“Tell me more. I promised Random House I’d write a review.”
“Well, there is nothing new in this novel, but it brings together many things from elsewhere that I think readers want. I’m a reader, after all. I’m not a writer. So, as a reader I have to say it’s not bad. I mean, many women, I would say, have the fantasy that a handsome man, a rich man, quite a clever man, actually, falls in love with her and pursues her. It may be unrealistic, but it’s a common fantasy, and, well, my first boyfriend was handsome but it didn’t work out with him and my next one — “
“Yes, yes, people don’t want to hear about your love life, Nora. Stick to the novel. Was it a good plot?”
“Yes. I thought the story was very well done.”
“Would you read the next one?”
“There are three!” I told her. “Would you read number two in the series?”
Her eyes lit up disconcertingly. “Yes, probably.”
“You would?” [Disbelief.]
“Yes, why not?”
“How many stars would you give it?”
“For Goodreads. How many stars out of five?”
“Oh, four at least.”
“Really? Not three?”
“Oh no! Four.”
“No, it wasn’t that good! Four.”
“Phew, but my books get five, don’t they?”
“Oh yes, she can’t write as well as you.”
Thank goodness for that! My inner goddess was doing the merengue with a zumba shimmy.