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I have jested in earlier posts, rather sardonically, about my inability to settle down with fiction. However, having heard of a number of women caught up in this book, “Fifty Shades of Grey”, I decided to give it a read over the past weekend and write a book review from a male perspective.
I really wasn’t long into this book before I imagined myself, head cocked to one side, mouth pressed into a hard line, running my index fingers across my keyboard, castigating the author in my not taciturn way, finally finding my release in shattering this somnambulant excuse for a novel into a thousand/million pieces; not unlike “Icarus floating too close to the Sun.”
Regretfully, and I mean that sincerely, only those who have had the great displeasure of reading this one-dimensional fable will appreciate that the previous paragraph is merely a cobbled-together extract of the author’s most overused phrases. These recur so frequently that I had to wonder if the page-turn buttons on my Kindle were in fact still working. “Fifty Shades of Grey” would have been fifty pages shorter if only we could “search/find/delete” these (and many other) repetitive nuisances. Furthermore, the author’s inability to find a metaphor or paint a scene leaves us with three annoying voice-overs for the protagonist: her thoughts, her conscience, and her inner goddess. The author’s syntactic sensibility is clearly of British origin, though she (unsuccessfully) tries to cover this up in a seemingly useless pander to a broader American pop-culture base. This struggle for an American voice is perhaps one of the reasons why the dialogue throughout feels so disjointed and unbelievable.
“Fifty Shades of Grey” is set in Seattle and is the tale of Anastasia Steele, a bright, insecure young woman from a modest background who falls madly in-love with the world’s next rising star. He is Christian Grey, an adopted self-made billionaire by the ripe old age of… twenty six. Apart from being inexplicably rich form the “mergers and acquisitions business,” he has a horse’s penis and the ability to make all women climax while doing nothing more than mumbling their name and performing a nipple-twist. Of course, anyone can do that without the same effect. His real trick. is. that. he. only. speaks. in. staccato once the light goes off. Oh, and ties-up his blind-folded lovers to the ceiling of his fully kitted-out sadist “Room of Pain.” That and of course, the billionaire thing. Note: this is not a comedy.
Apart from the poor character developments, the terribly slow-moving/non-existent plot gives away that this is a first time author. She, E.L. James, meanders pointlessly between lunch dates, insufferable contracts, and Anastasia’s work-life. Worst of all, we are made to suffer through all this not really to develop a story, but rather to hold the reader at bay before the next erotic chapter. Unfortunately, after the first adult scene (which, okay, is the best written part of the book), all the other “erotic scenes” become repetitive. Christian Grey, “Lord of the Sack” only has so many moves apart from [insert different naughty toy here (no pun intended)], and Anastasia only has one: climax quickly and repetitively. If perhaps we had a vision of Christian Grey apart from his grey smouldering eyes, and his grey suit, and grey tie, and grey sweat pants, in his steely (grey?) apartment we might understand Anastasia’s fascination. Without that, however, he sounds rather like an extremely talented (and possessive) No.2 pencil. Anastasia, on the other hand, sounds like new-world feminism’s leading disappointment.
It was difficult to tell at first whether the book was written by a forty-year old lowering her game to appease horny teenagers, or a teenager stretching beyond their limits to connect with lonely housewives. I then found out that the book was originally published in an online series as Twilight fan-fiction (yes, the hormone-spewing vampire saga) and then I just stopped caring.
If you want to read one fan’s thoughts of what happens to over sexed vampires who lose their fangs, become billionaires, and grow up (i.e. hit their early twenties), then perhaps this book is for you. If you have a brain, however, give this one a miss.