50 Shades of Confusion
It may be awful, but people are reading
Published: Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Updated: Thursday, November 1, 2012 11:11
I’m stuck. I don’t know what to think. I work at a bookstore and every third book I sell is 50 Shades of Grey. It’s the erotic first novel by E.L. James that has sold over 40 million copies worldwide and broken sales records set by Harry Potter (by no means a small feat). Now this might sound awfully closed minded but, the truth is I look down upon every person that buys that book. The title makes no sense, it’s popular among housewives, and it’s a bestseller—all reasons I jumped the gun to hate it. But nonetheless I’m stuck. I’m stuck because 50 Shades of Grey is a book, and people are buying it.
Honestly, before being assigned this article I had only opened the cover twice, both times to search for a steamy scene to read over our store intercom after closing, and both times I was utterly disappointed by the writing and its lack of true eroticism. But now I can say I have opened it. I have started from page one and I have read more than one chapter. And honestly, I’m still confused.
The prose is awful. James repeats “Oh my” and “Holy cow” an offensive amount of times. Anastasia, the narrator, is utterly unbelievable, un-relatable, and unlikable.
I could rant all day about the pathetic prose work smashed behind this bestselling cover, but there are a thousand blogs you could read that say the same thing. What really disappointed me was the fact that this book is considered good eroticism for middle-aged women. Why can’t an erotic novel be well written? Why must the content be dumbed down and streamlined? Why must every minor emotion the narrator feels be blatantly told to the reader? There is nothing here, save for a young woman giving herself to a dominant older man, a man who makes her sign nondisclosure agreements before sex, a man who wants to inflict harm in his “Red Room of Pain.”
So, I am confused. Yet, I can’t be mad. Fifty Shades of Grey is a novel (though this standing is debatable) that people are buying and reading and passing on. I’m left to hope that this opens a door, sparks a new writer to pen a literate sort of fan fiction.