Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Fifty Shades of Bleugh

Those four words are having an unprecedented effect on just about every adult female I know right now. And you cannot turn on a TV or open a newspaper or scan a website without finding reference to it. For me it has already reached the tedium level (a level currently rather cluttered with babyrelated status updates and the flood/drought correspondent see-saw).

You only have to type 'f-i-f' into google for it to autocomplete the title of this book by EL James. It is officially the fastestselling adult book of all time. Why? Because women never stop talking to each other and the hype wave on this one has led to a feeling that one simply MUST be in this club or else feel incredibly left out. 

Aside from all this, some amoeba coined the patronizing and idiotic phrase 'mummy-porn' to describe this phenomena (I blame the Daily Mail who use it frequently - says it all really) and unfortunately this seems to have stuck. I will absolutely 'defriend' (ha ha) the next person to use this description in a status update. You have been warned. When people assume all adult females have/want kids and push us all into the parent category it REALLY pisses me off. 

Anyway....I read the trilogy a couple of months ago, just as the popularity of the series began to reach fever pitch. I actually stumbled upon them by accident because I had googled Stephanie Meyer (author of the Twilight books) to see whether she was writing anything else and found an article on the Fifty Shades series which was originally based on Twilight's Bella/Edward relationship. EL James happened to be a Twilight uberfan who wanted to fill a gap for adult readers (for whom the Twilight romance was a little frustrating at times in it's tameness) and this sparked my curiosity. 

I am a bit baffled, I have to say, about what all the fuss is about. Yes there is a lot of 'kinky fuckery' (to use FSOG lingo) in it - but has nobody ever read Jilly Cooper before? Ok, so this is a 'modern' story with modern protagonists but it is certainly not the first erotic fiction to hit the mainstream markets. Black Lace have been catering to this audience for many years (250 titles since 1993).

Yes, it is a great 'romp' of a novel, perfect for holiday reading or some quiet escapism - but I do not think the literary canon should be worried just yet. I find the style of writing lazy at times (quite staccato. In places. Where Ana thinks like this. Frequently. Whilst biting her lower lip. For the millionth time.) And by the middle of the second book I was cursing her 'inner goddess' for being such a pillock, quite frankly.

There are so many things that Anastasia Steele does which render her an irritating heroine in my book (arf). Aside from the continuous lip biting and references to her inner goddess there are many times when I would happily shake her for being such a simpering fool. She could have been a character used to show how an intelligent woman can make it in the world whilst being sexually confident, instead we have to endure her 'journey' (a word banned in our house due to the nauseating overuse on X Factor/Strictly/The Voice) from amazingly chilled out virgin to full on nympho whilst her 'inner goddess' cheers her on from the sidelines. It's hardly believable to the cynic in me.

Also, there are many little things which annoy me by appearing with alarming regularity, here is a short (and not extensive) list: white wine, the aforementioned lip biting, the phrase 'oh my!', exclaimations such as 'holy hell!' (does this girl not even swear properly!? Is she Batman in disguise?!), more white wine (of the expensive variety - grape must be identified), an inordinate amount of descriptions of journeys in lifts, eye rolling. I do understand literary devices but for christ's sake! Overkill.

In moderation any of the above would probably not be annoying but I was bored of their frequency by the middle of book two. Add to this an ending (***SPOILER ALERT***) where any half-brained cynic (for this read 'woman who has been in a long term relationship with someone of the opposite sex') would have been raising their eyebrows at the sedate scene of domestic bliss presented to us.

I for one do not believe that Christian Grey will remain so physically besotted with and adoring of Ana in ten years time when she is knackered, her boobs are sagging and her appetite for a good spanking has been replaced with an appetite for a decent night's sleep. If he really is as sexually centred as we have been led to believe then this is a bit of an impasse. But then I guess this is where we should remember it is a work of fiction after all.

And that's my point really...if I have to endure another 'news' story about how FSOG has changed someones life or bought back awfulmemories for someone else I will scream. It's just a saucy book. Not even the first saucy book in the world. Lady Chatterley's Lover anyone? No?

Don't get me wrong, I don't dislike the books, I just wish the over-the-top manic hype would stop. I am also slightly saddened that people who have not read anything for years will pick this up and break that trend - and probably then stop reading again, there are so many GREAT books out there - they just haven't been hyped like this one. To my mind, the tagline 'if you only read one book this summer' should be finished with the words 'then you are a bit of a tool'.

Finally, on a most important note....if they do make a film of this book it has GOT to be the rather delectable Ian Somerhalder in the role.

Adding this in as an afterthought....in the words of Monty Python...Christian Grey - "he's not the messiah, he's just a very naughty boy!"