sue returns to the site with a review of the hottest book on the market…
Not since Erica Jong’s “Fear of Flying” has housewife porn been so talked about and prolific. E.L. James’ 50 Shades of Grey, however, has burst onto the literary scene in a way that, recently, only young adult novels have. Be warned, though. This is no kids book.
In 50 Shades, the first of a trilogy, our main character and narrator, Anastasia Steele, is at the end of her senior year in college and about to embark on a career in publishing when she meets young billionaire, Christian Grey. He’s the hottest man in the world and possibly the richest guy in Seattle (sorry, Gates). Ana is instantly drawn to him, despite his cold, arrogant, condescending demeanor. Why? Because he’s really, really hot.
If this is reminding you even remotely of anything of recent popularity, say sparkly vampires, it should. Originally conceived as Twilight fan-fiction, 50 Shades holds many striking similarities to its ubiquitous predecessor, not the least of which is stilted, unoriginal writing. Ana is a mousy brunette, clumsy yet strong-willed and opinionated. Her parents are divorced. Her dad is repeatedly described as taciturn, her mother a free-spirited bohemian, remarried and living in Georgia (having recently moved from Las Vegas). Christian is adopted, with a tortured past, unbelievably wealthy, especially for his age, and, lest we forget, really really hot. Seriously, and just as in Twilight, too much time is devoted to how hot this guy is. OK, we get it. At this point, I don’t even care anymore. I’d rather he look like a gargoyle, it’d be more interesting.
Moving on, just as Edward Cullen had his secret so does Christian, and it takes Anan on an emotional rollercoaster, usually described by Ana’s inner monologue with phrases like “Oh my!” or “Holy Fuck!” Instead of the tissue-thin “will she become a vampire” plotline, we’re presented with the equally intriguing “Will Ana be Christian’s submissive?”
The entire plot of 50 Shades hinges on this very question, and the attention spans of housewives around the country hang on the inner turmoil coursing through Ana as she determines the answer. That, and the very descriptive and frequent boning that occurs about every five pages. For all the talk of the BDSM lifestyle, however, very little of it actually occurs. In fact, I’m sure a discussion with a real-life dominant and a few choice episodes of HBO’s Real Sex would lead one to the conclusion that E.L. James’ book is BDSM-lite, which I’m guessing is just enough for the mommy crowd. Like Coke Zero, you get a taste but none of the calories.
All in all, if anything, James’ should be commended for her accomplishment in making porn acceptable and palatable to the playdate/bookclub crowd. (E-Readers should also get some props. It’s not likely that many of these women would buy this book if the person sitting across from them on the subway or in the pediatrician’s office could see what they were reading.) Make no mistake, though. This is not a romance novel. It’s porn. And for porn that is geared to women, there were quite a few decidedly un-hot scenes/characteristics which I’ll detail below.
1. Christian is an asshole. I understand he’s a dominant, and controlling is part of his nature, but he’s all about telling Ana what to do, eat, drive, wear, etc even before she’s signed his BDSM contract. It’s annoying, he’s dickish, why does she like him? Oh yeah, he’s sooooo hot. Lame.
2. He’s 27/28, but acts like he’s in his forties. He’s old before his time. I understand he’s a millionaire businessman, but he just doesn’t act his age. He’s rarely fun and carefree, which is what a 20-something millionaire should be. Furthermore, a lot of his dialogue is over-the-top and ridiculous. I’m sorry, but it’s hard not to laugh at a guy who says “It is a joy to gaze upon you.” Lighten up!
3. Linen shirts. What 20-something guy wears linen? Who in Seattle wears linen? I’m pretty sure linen shirts are reserved for pre-war Southern lawyers to wear with their seersucker suits. Or Colonel Sanders.
4. (GROSS SPOILER ALERT) Torn hymen blood. Yes, Christian was nice enough to deflower Ana with mind-blowing sex. So why did he have to ruin it by making her taste her own blood? Am I the only one who finds this gross? Which brings us to…
5. (GROSS SPOILER ALERT) Period Sex. As difficult it is finding sex while menstruating “sexy”, it’s even less sexy when accompanied by a description of Christian removing Ana’s tampon. Ew. And don’t get me started about the naked lounging in bed after.
6. Gyno-House Call. I know this guy is insanely wealthy, but was it necessary to have the OB/GYN come to his house for a PAP Smear? Would it really have been less impressive to make Ana go to a doctor’s office?(It worked fine for Maude Lebowski). Also, how does one do a gyno exam on a normal bed? Unless there are stirrups built into the bed, in which case, Double Ew.
7. “My sex.” Ana repeatedly refers to her vag as “my sex”. Seriously, who is she, Nell?
With the central question answered at the end of the book, the story is still far from over. After all, this is a trilogy with two books left to go. The huge question, therefore, is not “Will Ana be Christian’s submissive?”, but “Will I read the other books?” Jury is still out on that one. When can I pre-order the Hunger Games porn?