50 Shades of Grey dropped in bookstores all over America today. Specifically, more than half a million copies dropped. It is supposed to be a hot erotic novel of a young woman's entrance into S&M and so on. But a lot of people who took their marketing vaccinations this year have recognized it as being pretty much awful. But it began it's like as Twilight erotic fanfic, so it's possible that the awful prose is just an attempt to mimic the awful prose of Twilight.
In any event, this review is savage and lovely.
The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Fifty Shades of Grey -- Vulture
On websites like FF.net, the original home of Fifty Shades of Grey, anybody who can successfully operate a mouse has long had the option to masturbate to a story where Worf has rough sex with DJ from Roseanne. For Fifty Shades to have such crossover success, I figured it was probably better written than most fan fiction, and that the characters had been successfully disguised enough not to merit outrage or lawsuits. I have very limited familiarity with the Twilight franchise, but Bella, Edward, and Jacob are culturally omnipresent enough that I could probably pick them out of a lineup.
Christian Grey, the Edward of our story, is a 27-year-old ginger who likes white wine and using emoticons in e-mails. He refuses to use contractions when he speaks, so in my head, I sort of pictured him sounding like Andy Dick at the medieval restaurant in The Cable Guy. Our Bella, Anastasia Steele, sounded like Speedracer, mostly because she's always shouting her catchphrase, "Holy crap!" At 21, she's never given a blow job, but when she does, instinctively knows to use lots of teeth. That dry, skittering sound you heard is your fallopian tubes curling like party ribbon.
Fifty Shades dispenses with the supernatural plotline but also the main erotic draw of the Twilight books: the fact that the characters can't or won't have sex. Unencumbered by Mormon sexual ethics, pacing, or a YA classification, E.L. James is free to go straight to the fucking.
Here is why the fucking is not very sexy:
The Prose: I'm sorry. I know, it's soft porn, and it's not there to better us. But the advantage of erotic fiction over a DVD of I Can't Believe I Ate the Whole Team is that books will always at least FEEL more high-minded than movies. Besides, there are ways to write sex well. This is not that. This is like Tom Wolfe–bad sex scenes but punctuated by non-sex scenes that are gut-wrenchingly awful. A passage where we find out what Anastasia Steele looks like via girl-frowning-at-her-appearance-in-a-mirror exposition should be punishment for vehicular manslaughter in some states.
. . .