Can one of you ladies explain this whole Fifty Shades of Grey thing to me? I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around it.
I know you’re not in it for the writing any more than my father was into Playboy for the articles. E.L. James might be many things–lucky chief among them–but a writer she is not (as she herself admits). Her prose is bland, her descriptions ridiculous, her dialogue tin-eared.
Is it just the sex? Do you just want to feel naughty? There have to be better vessels of erotic ideas than this. Can I direct you to Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying? It’s got loads of sex, but the woman can–get this–write with style and humor. (I know, Jong isn’t a Twilight fan-fiction author, so some of you might dismiss her for that.) If you really enjoy bondage-themed material, there’s always the original, the Marquis de Sade. Some of his books are less than a dollar for the Kindle editions, which sure beats the thirty bucks my wife shelled out for The Fifty Shades series. But even the sex in James’ novel isn’t recommended with enthusiasm by its readers.
“It’s not real,” my wife’s friend complained. “She comes every time they have sex, and it’s always amazing, even when it’s the third or fourth time they’ve fucked that day.”
[My wife did not respond to this criticism, perhaps because admitting that this indeed is her reality might make her friend feel jealous or unsatisfied in her own relationship.]
Whatever the reason, Fifty Shades of Grey is a massive hit. Almost every woman I know is reading it or has read it. None of them can explain why, though, and they all seem vaguely ashamed of themselves. I wish I knew what the secret was.
“I’m going to write a novel,” I told a guy I know. “I think I’m a better writer than this lady.”
“i have an idea,” he replied. “Write your first draft as you normally would. On your second pass, just add lots of vaguely kinky, Cinemax-level sex. Women love that shit, it seems.”
There’s the rub, though: Women don’t watch Cinemax, and they think men that do are losers. Those late-night soft-core films are largely produced by men. I think that’s the kiss of death with erotica as far as women are concerned. This pretty much rules out my friend’s idea. If a man wrote this book, women would never read it, and they’d openly mock guys who did read it as perverts. (As they used to mock me when I was reading Lady Chatterly’s Lover back in high school.) A guy could never get away with this in today’s chick-lit fiction market.
But, hey, if any of you Fifty Shades fans can explain the attraction to me, I’m all ears.