Fifty Shades of Drek

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Fifty Shades of Drek

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maj 13, 2012, 8:05 pm

Really, this thing (these things) deserve to have their worst excesses exposed. I offer you an excerpt, bowlderized at the source.


Christian is standing over me grasping a plaited, leather riding crop.

He’s wearing old, faded, ripped Levis and that's all. He flicks the crop slowly into his palm as he gazes down at me. He's smiling, triumphant. I cannot move. I am BLEEP and BLEEP, BLEEP on a large four-poster bed.

Reaching forward, he trails the tip of the crop from my forehead down the length of my nose, so I can smell leather, and over my BLEEP, BLEEP lips. He pushes the BLEEP, BLEEP BLEEP, BLEEP, BLEEP etc…

maj 13, 2012, 8:27 pm

What is the point if you bleep all the good parts out? :)

maj 13, 2012, 8:35 pm

Someone did a blog post with short extracts of the most explicit parts. It was hilarious. Anyone see it? I can't find it now.

maj 13, 2012, 9:27 pm

It's easy to feel like a snob with this crap besmirching bookshelves.

maj 13, 2012, 11:06 pm

#1, Hey, good advertisement! I guess I will have to read the book at some time or another.

There was an article in our local paper about the book. Banned in the libraries of some nearby areas and our local library has a zillion holds {people waiting on an available copy} and has ordered dozens more books. There was also the obligatory slam of the quality of writing.

maj 13, 2012, 11:40 pm

I just want Cliff to know what he's up against.

That's some powerful writing.

maj 14, 2012, 9:49 am

A fan page for FIFTY SHADES. Please read the "About Me" citation, it's a gem.

News for the person running the site: intelligent women don't read this kind of shit.

Redigeret: maj 14, 2012, 10:09 am

I have learned from a certain fan site that some guy called "Cliff Burns" is just plain rude.

We all know that Cliff is just bitter because Anastasia, in the novel, is a portrait of Cliff himself:
"Sometimes I wonder if there's something wrong with me. Perhaps I've spent too long in the company of my literary ... heroes, and consequently my ideals and expectations are far too high."

How could anyone not love a book full of great lines like these?

maj 14, 2012, 10:10 am

You devil, A.J. Cruel, cruel man...

maj 14, 2012, 11:19 am

By the way, I'm getting lots of hits on my blog from that fan site--you're right, apparently I'm not exactly a popular guy.

God, I hope no one from their l'il group seriously tries to defend the literary brilliance of the FIFTY SHADES books. I'll be forced to eat them...

maj 14, 2012, 11:27 am

I actually read some of the reviews on LibraryThing of this stupid-looking and hysterically badly-written book. They boil down to "of course the writing is terrible and the characters are two dimensional etc. but it got me off." Is there a "reviews" type site among people who watch visual porn? Because I can imagine the person writing something like "though the production values sucked and the acting was not exactly Oscar level, the actual sex scenes appealed to my particular fetishes so I was pleased with the result." Augh. Cliff, again, really why are you even wasting your time lambasting these people. They are not reading for literary value and are merely getting defensive at you for criticizing them.

Redigeret: maj 14, 2012, 11:39 am

A good literary feud always gets the blood up, Anna.

And why cede the field to people just because they have tiny brains, thin skins and the wit of an outcropping of granite? To quote from a note I dropped to someone recently:

"I'm a proselytizer on behalf of the printed word, truly believe that reading saved my life or, at the very least, preserved my sanity. Thus, I am utterly appalled when I see what traditional publishers, supposedly arbiters of taste and discernment, are foisting on the general public.

Vampire porn, S & M "erotica" written at about a Grade 8 level, fake memoirs and don't get me started on the fantasy genre, with its rampant misogyny and rape scenarios galore.

Surely we can do better than this?

And what has happened to intelligent, discerning readers? Why are so many people gobbling up semi-literate chicken scribbles and making millionaires out of people who, if there was any justice in the world, would be flipping burgers at McDonald's?"

I genuinely LOVE books and to stand aside, mute, while corporate scum and a bunch of mental zombies flush literature down the toilet is more than I can bear.

It's Canute against the tide, I know, but, remember, my greatest heroes are Leonidas and the Spartans who fought a heroic and hopeless battle at Thermopylae. What can I tell ya, I'm a sucker for lost causes.

maj 14, 2012, 11:43 am

One significant difference is that porn movies are not treated as "film-making success stories" when they rake in the dough. But Fifty Shades is widely touted as a publishing success story worthy of serious coverage.

Readers, meanwhile, are not fooled, which does indeed make one ask, why get excited? The readers who read Fifty Shades are not the readers I'd hope to reach.

maj 14, 2012, 11:54 am

Where is KSW, who if I remember rightly has read some "literary erotica" such as The Story of O and could probably critique this silly thing against its own genre?

The whole thing is just making me laugh. As AJ points out, readers are indeed not fooled.

Ian, it's interesting that you brought up the ereader thing on the other thread, because last week at this training I was attending in Houston, the trainer noticed I was reading an ereader and actually asked me if I were reading this very "book". I said no (even if I had been, I probably would have lied because I would have had some shame about it - but as it happens, I was reading about the farthest thing from it I can imagine, which was a G.K. Chesterton Father Brown story) and he said that he had been sitting next to two different people on the plane both of whom were apparently not at all shy of telling him they were reading that book on their ereaders. (TMI, people!)

maj 14, 2012, 11:55 am

Also Cliff I imagine you are declaiming this with your hand on your heart at 12. :) Do you look anything like Charlton Heston?

maj 14, 2012, 12:02 pm

Not as tall, not as good looking...but just as fond of guns.

Redigeret: maj 14, 2012, 6:54 pm

Anna: You want someone to critique it against its own genre? I'm not KSW but here are my two cents (if they're worth that much)...

I've read Story of O and I'm sure as hell not gonna read Fifty Shades of Grey to compare. The clip at the top does well enough for me. What psychological insight! What passion and profundity! And I love how EL James describes leather as smelling like leather - very Ionesco-ian. Really sends a jolt through you. And the use of present tense makes it all so immediate!

Please. Beep out all the explicit words in Story of O and you're still left with a book (well, maybe a third of a book; such is the fate of erotica).

That novel was disturbing, well-written, well-designed and had scenes that I'm never going to forget, one of which left me outraged, moved, horrified and shaken all at once. Possibly the strongest mix of emotions a book has ever gained from me. It was a trip to the dark side and grueling to read. I wanted to set every single character's hair on fire. The descriptive passages comparing the nightmare interiors of the chateau with the autumnal beauty out the window and the psychological descriptions of how O felt were a sight better than just sticking the word "triumphant" in and thinking that will suffice. Story of O got a reaction from me on every page and was of literary quality. Yeah, the addendum was a rip-off and the man who wrote the introduction was a lying piece of shit but the book itself was good.

As far as I know, unlike literary sci-fi, etc, literary erotica is not capable of transcending its genre limitations, but I have not read nearly enough of it to say for sure. That's just my suspicion. Be that as it may, Story of O was a good book. I didn't like it but I admire it. Fifty Shades of Grey is crap. Laugh it off the court.

maj 14, 2012, 1:21 pm

17: Wow, that mini-review does not make me want to read Story of O but it sure does make me think it has literary value.

Seems like we have a consensus here between you, me and AJ that mockery is the best reaction to this 50 shades of whatever. Cliff is still going with righteous indignation.

maj 14, 2012, 1:50 pm

It's my natural state of mind.

maj 14, 2012, 8:01 pm

about 50 copies of this dreaded thing have appeared in the bookshop I work in. People seem to be actually buying them, sadly, but thankfully not from me yet. it's the pretence that it has any merit that I find galling. Its appearance in printed, distributed form gives it a vestigal hint of worth. If anyone wants to read erotic fanfiction, fine, but don't pretend it somehow should be a part of our national discourse, the shared literary world. I resent its presence, and I dread to think what I'll say if a customer aks me about it.

maj 14, 2012, 8:33 pm

I should suggest that something like "BLEEP your BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP-BLEEP out of my BLEEPING bookstore" would fit.

maj 14, 2012, 8:34 pm

Meh. I don't think bookstores should turn away people. Go the other direction—bookstore branded nipple-clips.

Redigeret: maj 14, 2012, 9:49 pm

# 21 Embrace the flow - a bull whip collection artfully snaking around and surrounding an endcap display of the book.;-)

The whips were popular and plentiful when I was a kid.

You are correct no one has reviewed the book in erotica, which I clicked on by accident

Redigeret: maj 16, 2012, 1:54 pm

>23 DugsBooks:

You sure it wasn't a friend who clicked on that? Mmmm?

maj 14, 2012, 10:58 pm

Yeah, a friend. This guy you knew, or maybe it was your cousin, the one with the wandering eye...

maj 14, 2012, 11:29 pm

I am the one with the wandering eye! It is barely noticeable with sunglasses and my cousin is just fine.

I saw this article on cnbc about how erotic literature has taken off with the ebook sales. the video gives some hard economic facts if it is still there. I thought it was well researched.

I am over my head in that topic but I find it informational as I do Snobs. Nice rare links here!

maj 15, 2012, 8:11 am

I was over at Photography Snobs.

They were criticizing the wildly popular "Fifty Fotoz of Fux" - wrong shutter speeds, poor contrast choices, hamfisted air brushing. Basically, not artistic enough...

maj 15, 2012, 9:01 am

With FIFTY SHADES, it's more like the idiot photographer left her thumb over the lens and, on top of that, forgot to put film in the camera in the first place.

maj 15, 2012, 9:08 am

She ran someone else's bad photos through a photocopier and changed the captions.

maj 15, 2012, 9:20 am

Even better analogy, A.J.

maj 15, 2012, 10:08 am

So glad to find this thread today, as the 50 Shades of Cultural Decay has been especially depressing of late. It's much worse on Goodreads, where nearly 50,000 people rated the book, nearly 10,000 reviewed it. To see this book (and so many others just as bad and infantile) fill the nation's literary discourse so completely, there is a lonely feeling and a question: what happened to all the people who need high literature, great writing, serious prose?

maj 15, 2012, 10:39 am

LibraryThing attracts a better class of readers. Only a little over 600 people have logged it in over here.

Then I checked the Amazon bestseller list. 3,400 reviews and counting. And the other two books in the trilogy are right behind it. Hilariously, further down the list there's a book called The Art of Intelligence.

maj 16, 2012, 9:41 pm

Puritanism and bad writing should both be obliterated with the strongest astringent possible. Carry on.

maj 16, 2012, 10:22 pm

I take a "Germany first" approach to this issue. We can't fight both puritanism and bad writing at the same time, and the former seems to be in trouble anyway. So, let's go after the bad writing first.

maj 16, 2012, 10:32 pm

34: Did I imply they were two problems? Sorry. The constant desire to make things "clean" and "family friendly" has, in the words of the heroic Hedley Lamarr, led to "runaway decency in the West." Luckily the Puritans in this nation are taking charge with a strategy of "raping the cattle and killing the women" (seriously, have you seen the legislation they are trying to pass in this country). America is one big Rock Ridge, a nation filled to bursting with uneducated salt-of-the-earth racist dingbats. Why else do you think Michael Bay has a career and the Pulitzer Committee can't commit to a decision a half-decent novel? The puritanical nature in humanity just anoints the philistinism of the moron and makes them sound like a cultured elitist. Luckily they have their Nicholas Sparks and Thomas Kinkade to guide them through these harrowing Culture Wars and Wars on Christmas and Prayer in School and spelling and grammar, etc. What this country needs is a Ferdinand Celine to skewer them without mercy but in such a way to make us all laugh out loud.

maj 18, 2012, 3:44 pm

I don't have anything to add to the discussion--just want to say I've been enjoying the hell out of it. To quote a snob, carry on.

maj 18, 2012, 10:41 pm

Come now, I think we're all being a little harsh on this harmless book. Just take a look at Gilbert Gottfried reading passages from this nuanced work of literary eroticism:

maj 19, 2012, 11:36 am

I heard an interesting defense of this book lately (from someone who hasn't read it).

"It's porn. Why are you holding it to literary standards? That's like shooting fish in a barrel. Its goals are not literary, so why judge it as if it is?"

Hmmm. I think it was Mark Kermode who asked "why be Michael Bay if you could be Christopher Nolan?" That's a quote I still remember. Why be The Lowest Common Denominator? Why be a sub-literate hack? If you're going to write a work of erotica, the first thing to do is learn how to write.

Writing well takes exertion. Giving accolades to EL James is like giving the Olympic Medal to the one who stood still. Writing is writing, regardless of genre. I may read old romantic suspense with a far lower bar than I do for "literary" works, but the bar is still firmly in place and I recognise the ones who can't clear it (like the eye-wateringly bad Clarissa Ross).

I am of the opinion that a beautiful, skillfully crafted paragraph, whatever it is describing, is more awe-inspiring, shiver-inducing and (ta-da) erotic than a clunky, badly written description of an actual erotic scene.

What I wonder is why Stephanie Meyer hasn't done something useful with her ill-gotten gains and sued EL James for plagiarism....

maj 19, 2012, 12:06 pm

#38 I think you've said it all. On behalf of writers who genuinely care about what they commit to paper: THANKS.

maj 20, 2012, 12:11 pm

38: "It's porn. Why are you holding it to literary standards? That's like shooting fish in a barrel. Its goals are not literary, so why judge it as if it is?"

Interesting you should bring that point up. Susan Sontag wrote an essay entitled "The Pornographic Imagination," examining 60s era literate smut like Story of O and The Image

As far as literate smut goes, Georges Batailles is still the gold standard. He wrote everything from anthropology to philosophy, yet wrote one of the most twisted pieces of porn I've ever read, The Story of the Eye

But regarding this thread, Fifty Shades of Grey isn't piss-awful because it's either "porn" or "literate fiction." It's neither. It's tacky Harlequin-style romance tarted up with supernatural elements. Hell, Harlequin and other publishers have entire lines devoted to this genre. Why this book has taken off with the gay-hating Republican trophy wives? Another sociological phenomena I'd like to understand from a historical standpoint, especially given America's utter fear of human nudity and sexuality, yet its sacred devotion to the free market and similarly, to the notion that "sex sells" ... well ... everything. Then again, is this really a surprise from a nation that chooses the Puritans as its spiritual descendants? Those sexually deranged, Quaker-hanging, moral hypocrites that England, in a rare moment of intellectual bravery, had the common decency to kick the fuck off the island. America has been dealing with these religious plague-bearers ever since. Seriously, the book is a romance novel with explicit sex scenes in it. The only real vulgar thing is its ridiculous popularity. Surprised we haven't heard any uproar from the Religious Right about this? Then again, they are probably too busy not getting caught having gay sex with their parishioners and figuring out how to make Romney into their personal hand-puppet to bother with this little book.

maj 20, 2012, 1:31 pm

The popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey is the fault of Republicans? Can you explain that part again?

maj 20, 2012, 5:50 pm

41: That's a simplistic and rather disingenuous misreading of my post. Instead of explaining it again, you can feel free to reread my previous post. Mazel tov!

maj 21, 2012, 2:18 am

Why this book has taken off with the gay-hating Republican trophy wives?

Did you survey this demographic, or is this social criticism?

Redigeret: maj 21, 2012, 3:20 am

Mr. Steele is a present day Marquis de Sade

maj 21, 2012, 11:29 am

A quote from William Gass which I found pertinent to this thread:

"In the act of attacking their enemies, the avant-garde declared those enemies to be their equals - the main body. Can we nowadays imagine any self-respecting artistic movement turning upon the comic book, the blood flick, the gooey erotic romance, minimal moonshine or similar musics, painted photographs as large as small buildings, sideshow sensationalism and other vocal groups, TV's endless inanities, as if these had betrayed some noble cause, or had lured us off the high road of art and onto the low road of love and other lyrics? Any avant-garde that believes itself up to the mo should have the High Moderns as its foes, but these artists are, in fact, among the avant-garde's few friends, and its only equal; although there is at present some doubt about even that, because the avant-garde itself - in name, if not in substance - is now a trademark for the trendy." (from "The Vicissitudes of the Avant-Garde")

Gass is saying that the artistic movements have died out, that in the modern field there is no worthy opponent, just stuff like what we're discussing here. So why are we ganging up on something that should be beneath our notice? "When there is no windmill to tilt at - tilt not."

Or does this sound like a snooty form of defeatism?

Meanwhile, trash reading has existed since the novel first appeared and the lowbrow end of it has always been scorned. The Encyclopedia of Pulp Fiction Writers I've got claims that a study of pulp reveals an enormous amount about the preoccupations of the masses and is therefore an excellent sociological study tool. I wouldn't mind a good book on the subject. Making the List: A Cultural History of the American Bestseller might also help fill in the gaps. We've got to live with this stuff (even if we don't read it), therefore we might as well get something out of it...if it's at all possible to do so.

maj 21, 2012, 11:34 am

But isn't FIFTY SHADES, the Stephenie Meyer series a whole other level of awfulness, worse than trashy or "pulp" fiction because it's not even competently written? The situation aggravated by the fact that this shit sells in numbers that would've made booksellers of the 1950's and 60's swoon.

maj 21, 2012, 11:41 am

46: More people, alas, drives the sales numbers up almost past endurance. But is the writing really WORSE than the worst of the pulps? You had people back then writing as fast as humanly possible - one guy (forget the name) called himself "the fastest typewriter in the East" and could churn out a book a week in any genre assigned to him.

On the other hand, he never scored gigantic hits with his stuff. The halfways competent writers scored the hits (just like in music).

The good old days.....

maj 21, 2012, 11:56 am

maj 21, 2012, 11:56 am

But did the pulps attract serious media attention? This is what creates the backlash against phenomena like Fifty Shades: the media's habit of pretending that it is something other than pulp.

maj 21, 2012, 12:32 pm

FIFTY SHADES is wayyyy beneath pulp. It's sub-literate, incompetently composed, elementary school scribbling. I've read a good number of the pulp writers--and here we can include Dashiell Hammett, Robert Howard, Lovecraft, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Zane Grey--and it would be hard to find any examples from that milieu that mutilate the English language and ordinary rules of sentence construction with the apparent ease of E.L. James, Meyer, Amanda Hocking et al.

And none of the pulp guys ever received seven figure contracts and front page attention. They were trying to pay the bills at 1/4 cent a word...

maj 21, 2012, 12:44 pm

#48 Wow. The kinda guy who gives self-publishing a bad name. And I know LOTS of people just as deluded and fucked up; the next reigning giants of the literary world...if only the indifferent reading public and scheming, monolithic publishers would pay obeisance to their unique genius.


As Jung said; "People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own souls."

maj 21, 2012, 12:51 pm

ConfiteorMedia asks, " what happened to all the people who need high literature, great writing, serious prose?"

They're still around. I suspect that most of the people reading 50 SHADES are people who don't read much. That's a lot of people. These are not the people who used to read literature.

maj 21, 2012, 1:05 pm

I've read all 50 of the posts here and have really enjoyed this discussion. My stepdaughter, married with children, is loving 50 SHADES, and I told her it sounds trashy to me. I haven't and don't intend to read it.

However, I also don't make such strong-sounding comments as those here about a book I haven't read. I wonder if anyone here has read it. I'm tempted to read it just so I can give it a bad review.

Has anyone seen a bad review of this book written by someone who has actually read the whole thing?

maj 21, 2012, 1:33 pm

Good points being made here by all.

It seems to be the case that everyone is lambasting EL James for the sheer obnoxiousness of her success. The book is being trumpeted as a self-publishing triumph, James is making a fortune and discerning readers can't ignore it when it's being thrown in their faces. It's the advertising campaign. I get the same thing on YouTube - when looking up a good band such as Beirut, I'll get hit with a commercial for the latest diva the music industry is pushing when NOBODY who likes Beirut could possibly find that commercial anything but offensive.

The link at #48 proves also that negative publicity is no better* than good. Whichever way you stir the pot, the pot is still being stirred.

Oh, and Cliff: GREAT quote from Jung.

*Okay, slightly better...

Redigeret: maj 21, 2012, 1:47 pm

53: Yes I have seen a bad review by someone who read it. She was on the hot reviews on LT for more than a week - probably everyone here has read her review. I also took the time to read many of the other reviews which were almost uniformly positive, giving it 4 or 5 stars. They were not really judging the literary quality. They were judging the erotic element, to put it delicately. I also have read an excerpt or two and found them funny, because they were so stupid, just like I found the Twilight movie (apparently this book was originally Twilight fanfiction). It is like reading online erotica written by random people on the Internet, which I have also read, so I have a basis for comparison.

However I am not claiming that the people reading it are "Republican trophy wives" or anything like that. And I have not been one of the people who have been wringing their hands about it, actually the quote in 38, "It's porn. Why are you holding it to literary standards? That's like shooting fish in a barrel. Its goals are not literary, so why judge it as if it is?" sounds like a very good paraphrase of what I have been saying since someone originally brought this up on another thread.

I don't think you have to read an entire book to know it is bad. Sometimes I can read a good review and think I know enough to comment intelligently on a book. Sometimes you can read the back cover, or the first two pages, or a random excerpt, and that's enough for you to know it is bad writing (however we define that in our various subjective ways).

I do understand the outrage at its being marketed so heavily when it is so empty of content, pathetically badly written, and stupid, but then again I feel the same way about the Game of Thrones series and there is no escaping from it, either. In fact lots of bestsellers are not my cup of tea and yet there is enough good stuff out there that I am pretty happy. However, I am not an author trying to compete in a limited market, just a reader who prefers her books to sound at least halfway literate.

maj 21, 2012, 2:35 pm

As a pro writer, I really take issue with FIFTY SHADES and its putrid ilk. There is only a finite amount of shelf space in bookstores and libraries in North America and too much of it is taken up by shite. Selfishly speaking, I want a crack at that shelf space too and with (seemingly) fewer and fewer of us reading "seriously" any more, I'm seeing my chances of nabbing even a few precious inches rapidly diminishing.

Welcome to Generation Stupid.

maj 21, 2012, 8:30 pm

44: Except Mr de Sade could write a goddamn sentence! And a pitch black social satirist. Probably why I favorited him as an LT writer.

maj 22, 2012, 9:14 am

57: Dialogue between a Priest and a Dying Man was a good atheist philosophical tract. I'd need an iron stomach to read anything else by him.

Back on topic, Anna_in_PDX is possibly taking the sanest approach - live and let live.

maj 22, 2012, 10:19 am

De Sade is a good comparandum. Brevard county doesn't have any books by him. As some of his writings would probably circulate more than other stuff they have, this would seem to support the notion that they have a policy, and are following it.

maj 22, 2012, 11:03 am

Well I will be sure to leave 50 Shades of Grey to all the people that think that reading a Danielle Steel novel is actually reading. GAG......

When I was down with a recent surgery I was looking for reading material and my sister said something about this series and I looked it up real quick and the best description was SOCCER MOM PORN, and right there I knew I would just pass. From what I am reading here this series is even worst then the old harlequin romance crap that after reading a page or two you just want to throw the thing across the room.

maj 22, 2012, 11:14 am

"Soccer mom porn". That's a new one.


That's a freakin' scary demographic...

maj 22, 2012, 11:18 am

61: (not in defense of the Shades of Grey book but just a general comment) Um, why would soccer mom porn be so scary? Porn has been around for a long time (going back to the ancient romans at least, no?)... it has never been highbrow, and now it caters to women as well as men, why is this a bad thing? (though why it has to be so S&M oriented I will never understand...)

60: I have wanted to fling Danielle Steele books across the room too, on occasion. I am one of those people that look compulsively around for reading material and if there is a romance sitting next to the phone book I start with the A's.

Redigeret: maj 22, 2012, 11:28 am

Anna, I was a soccer dad so I know all about those soccer moms. Vicious, savage people:

"Clarissa, don't just lay there! Go after that kid! Kill him! Kill him!"
"Anthony, it's just a little blood. Keep playing, we'll get it up stitched later..."
"How could you miss? Mommy showed you that drop shot a thousand times!"
"Ref! Ref! Open your fuckin' eyes, that kid's been diving all game!"


maj 22, 2012, 11:52 am

LOL Wow. Soccer in Canada must be quite the sport. Only the strong survive!

maj 22, 2012, 12:00 pm

It's the off-season substitute for hockey.

In making notes recently contra common cultural assumptions about Canada as a "nation of peacekeepers," it occurred to me that Canadians are paradoxically addicted to the most violent of team sports, in which outbreaks of fisticuffs have long been regarded not only as inevitable but as an integral part of the game.

maj 22, 2012, 12:08 pm

Odd, isn't it?

Like finding out the Swedes cut open baby seals and wear them on their heads to celebrate winter solstice.

Ordinarily, a sane, sedate people but, in actuality, a culture with a dark underbelly.

maj 22, 2012, 12:09 pm

Well if I see De Sade and American Pyscho on someones bookshelf an eyebrow would be raised. But if I see 50 Shades of Grey they just get the your soooooooooooooo whatever look.

maj 22, 2012, 12:10 pm

A BOOK SNOB I AM AND PROUD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

maj 22, 2012, 12:14 pm

Wear it proud.


maj 22, 2012, 1:40 pm

Wear it proud.

What, the baby seal on your head?

Strange customs they have in Saskatchewan.

Redigeret: maj 22, 2012, 5:38 pm

Drop by for one of this province's institutions: a foul supper. Every autumn, people gather together in infernal places like church basements and community halls and--what?

Er, sorry. That should read "fowl" supper.

Redigeret: maj 22, 2012, 7:32 pm

Really, is there anything more to add?

Perhaps a Mayan-like Apocalypse is a GOOD thing.

maj 22, 2012, 4:52 pm

The Mayan apocalypse has come and gone. Remember what Wilfred Owen wrote about EL James cashing a cheque:

And by her smile, I knew that sullen hall
By her dead smile I knew we stood in hell

maj 22, 2012, 5:37 pm

Ah, A.J.

Yet another reason to like you.

maj 22, 2012, 6:48 pm

Speaking of Roman-era porn, one of my thrift store finds was about the archaeological finds in Pompeii Lots of orgies and satyrs with giant wangs. Then again, was Rome ever subtle about anything?

Well, back to my unexpurgated Catullus and the Satyricon

maj 23, 2012, 3:06 am

#71 I suspect you had it right the first time - after all, the Canadians have contributed less to world cuisine than the British, and all we're famous for is pork pies and Yorkshire pudding...

maj 23, 2012, 9:20 am

Maple syrup? "Timbits"? Poutine? Some of the best beer in the world?

maj 23, 2012, 9:25 am


maj 24, 2012, 1:55 pm

I agree, the quote in 38, is the best that I've read here: "It's porn. Why are you holding it to literary standards? That's like shooting fish in a barrel. Its goals are not literary, so why judge it as if it is?"

maj 24, 2012, 2:09 pm

But I don't think people are judging it as if its goals are literary. This is actually a straw man.

People are responding to hype that treats it as if its goals are literary.

To say, "you can't judge it as if its goals are literary" is equivalent to declaring that there is no point mentioning that the emperor has no clothes, because his tailor never intended to make any.

Redigeret: maj 24, 2012, 3:06 pm

Ten million copies of this shit sold in 6 weeks?

That indicates a sickness at the heart of our culture that simply can't be ignored or brushed aside. Any attempt to further dummy down the Western mind must be met with the utmost scorn and hostility. Crap does NOT get a free ride, especially in a group of discerning, sharp-witted snobs.

maj 24, 2012, 3:51 pm

Yeah, don't they know you can read this kind of stuff for free on the Internet forever and ever without running out of it?

maj 24, 2012, 8:35 pm

81: Agreed. My issue isn't the porny-ness -- seriously, read George Bataille and DAF Sade for plenty of that goodness -- it's that the writing is terrible. Then again, this is a culture that makes an ethical fetish from voting "for the lesser of two evils," eroding the standards of education, and spot-welding homophobic Christianity on any flat surface for their own masturbatory edification. Of course these people would flock to this dreck without a second thought. To paraphrase the bisexual alcoholic trailer park supervisor Jim Leahy from Trailer Park Boys, "When you stare into the shit-abyss ..."

People who are too stupid to think and too afraid to think critically, well, then of course they'd like crap and believe they are eating chocolate pudding.

Americans are Bible-thumping, gay-hating, not-cheap-healthcare-wanting sub-idiots. We aren't Rome, we're the Byzantine-Empire-as-Megamall-Megachurch. I would curse the whole damn lot of them, but why waste the energy?

maj 26, 2012, 12:21 am

Fan fiction from the fan fiction;


maj 28, 2012, 10:16 pm

jun 11, 2012, 5:38 pm

Surely, the secret of 50 Shades is simple - it's porn for women that respectable women have heard of and can buy from respectable sources - especially for e-readers so they can read it on the bus.

Was it Chesterton who said that people don't look for bad books (and music and art) they look for books etc of a particular type, and if they can't find good books of that type, they read bad ones? People wanted porn, they didn't know where to find good or at least well-written porn, so they bought badly written porn.

jun 11, 2012, 6:18 pm

Are there examples of good erotica-slash-porn, Auntie? Are you thinking along the lines of Anais Nin, Henry Miller, et al?

Is there a possible thread here to counter the "50 Shades" phenomenon?

jun 11, 2012, 6:59 pm

87: Surely, the secret of 50 Shades is simple - it's porn for women that respectable women have heard of and can buy from respectable sources - especially for e-readers so they can read it on the bus

I can attest to that. I love it when some curious female type asks her friend on the bus this wonderful question, "So what's it about?" Be prepared to hear euphemisms so tortured and deceptive you'd think it came from a memorandum penned by Robert McNamara

Yuuucchhh ... nothing is more vulgar and vile than the whitebread middle-class Americans in search of "respectability."

Let me be the first to take Hedley Lamarr's pledge "to stamp out runaway decency in the West":

Is there a possible thread here to counter the "50 Shades" phenomenon?

Probably not a thread, but a garrote would do nicely.

jun 11, 2012, 9:00 pm

Is it really, in these days of the Internet, so hard for women to discreetly get their hands on whatever sort of porn tickles their . . . whatever it tickles?

jun 11, 2012, 10:21 pm

>90 dcozy: Ah, but that's the thing . . . in these days of the Internet, it's easy to get your hands on vast quantities of porn in any flavor imaginable . . . including stuff along the lines of "Fifty Shades." Finding that particular vein, or any particular vein of porn/erotica on the internet, though, takes either a fair amount of trial and error or finely honed, very specialized search skills.

The "respectable women" and "whitebread middle-class Americans" who've flocked to Fifty Shades have neither of those things. (And are, I suspect, quite likely to view the unfilterered hinterlands of the web as a dangerous cesspool of Very Nasty Things they wouldn't want to encounter even in passing.)

Fifty Shades does for written erotica (or porn, if you like) what films like Emmanuelle did for the cinematic version back in the mid-70s. It creates a culturally demarcated-and-approved safe space where they can go, confident that they'll be turned on and yet not see anything that'll make them feel icky.

jun 11, 2012, 10:29 pm

Am I the only one bothered by the idea that people (would) read porn in public? Isn't the whole point of porn getting off? Isn't that what bedrooms, or generally private places are for? Wouldn't "successful" porn prove to be a highly embarrassing subway read? Geezis. I'll have to start pointedly getting up and away from anyone with an e-reader in their hands.

jun 11, 2012, 11:06 pm

91: Fifty Shades does for written erotica (or porn, if you like) what films like Emmanuelle did for the cinematic version back in the mid-70s.

At least Emmanuelle was better written, at least in terms of the films adaptations I've seen. By the 90s and the Krista Allen derivations, the series had run its course.


92: Only if they are sticky. Reminds me of this bit of dialogue from Serenity:

Kaylee Frye: Goin' on a year now I ain't had nothin' twixt my nethers weren't run on batteries!
Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: Oh, God! I can't *know* that!
Jayne Cobb: I could stand to hear a little more.

jun 11, 2012, 11:39 pm

Jayne "I'll be in my bunk" Cobb.

jun 12, 2012, 12:59 pm

>94 LolaWalser:

Nice reference.

jun 12, 2012, 4:19 pm

The trouble is that a lot of erotica/porn is not written with women in mind - it's years since I read any Anais Nin but I seem to recall that it was written for a bloke, for cash. One reason for the popularity of fan fiction (especially slash fan fiction) is that a lot of it is erotica/porn written by women for women largely away from the male gaze. I've seen a number of studies in which it is described as a "safe space" for women.

If you don't want to go looking, if you don't know how to go looking, and/or if you want porn in which all the decisions are made by someone else "wiser" and "more experienced" - Fifty Shades of Crap probably looks like a good deal.

And women can have very discreet fun on the bus, we don't have to act like that women from "When Harry met Sally", you know.

Redigeret: jun 12, 2012, 10:52 pm

porn for women

That's from the always excellent xkcd:

jun 14, 2012, 5:29 pm

More shit in the pipeline:

A seven-figure contract? Seven figure?

Redigeret: jun 14, 2012, 10:28 pm

If that's worth more than a million dollars, someone should buy a Kacy Wilson memoir.

jun 14, 2012, 11:35 pm

Embarrassing, isn't it? How do they determine these grotesque numbers for lousy writers? Ouija Board? Darts?

jun 15, 2012, 5:38 am

>96 AuntieCatherine: - I thought the main market of written porn was women hence most of the big romance publishers also have more erotic off-shots.

>98 CliffBurns: - this is from Wikipedia, about the founding of Penguin - Anecdotally Lane recounted how it was his experience of the poor quality of reading material on offer at Exeter train station that inspired him to create cheap, well designed quality books for the mass market. And now they can't be bothered making an effort.

jun 15, 2012, 9:51 am

>100 CliffBurns:

Potential sales. They're not stupid.

jun 15, 2012, 9:56 am

Yes, those potential sales.

Embarrassing that publishers think their audience is so stupid...and so frequently right.

Skimming the murky waters of self-publishing for their talent. It doesn't get much lower than that. Truly bottom-feeding.

jun 15, 2012, 10:13 am

I just went to the Amazon page for my new book, and the first recommendation they give under "Continue Shopping" is Fifty Shades of Gray....

jun 15, 2012, 10:20 am

Back when Lane launched Penguin, such an imprint was rare or nonexistent in England (there were cheap mass market pocket books on the Continent since at least 1908, when Insel Verlag began publishing "two-mark" pocket books, and then in 1912 started Insel-Buecherei--Lane copied their design for King Penguins and some poetry series. Was probably inspired by them altogether.)

Now there are plenty of cheap good books around, but the taste of the readers on average still inclines to sex and gore, the carbs and fats of printed text. Human nature. But! At least there are today ALSO plenty of cheap Odysseys and David Copperfields, for the lit-conscious.

jun 15, 2012, 10:43 am

#104 Gawd, that's terrible, Geoff. Sue the A.I. that came up with that particular algorithm...

(On the other hand, ruthlessly speaking, it might nab you some sales.)

Redigeret: jun 15, 2012, 11:13 am

105: Yeah, that is really what I think about it, but then I am not a writer competing for publishers' attention against the pulp market.

jun 15, 2012, 4:27 pm

103: Embarrassing that publishers think their audience is so stupid...and so frequently right

Not really, these people are the same people who vote Republican, think the Earth is 6000 years old, and homosexuality is a choice. In other words, the perfect demographic for a nuclear holocaust:

jun 16, 2012, 9:35 am

104: Seems like borderline libel to me....

jun 17, 2012, 11:47 pm

Bret Easton Ellis wants to adapt Fifty Shades for the big screen.

jun 18, 2012, 9:58 am

Perfect fit, aesthetically. Ellis is an idiot and a literary whore.

jun 18, 2012, 12:05 pm

111: Bless you for saying that - I read Less than Zero a few decades ago (Yikes! I am old) and was just disgusted at how stupid it was and how popular he is. I do not get it. He is a life size replica of my my worst conception of a celebrity author. Yet many people whose opinions I value, feel very differently than I do about his book(s) (I have only read the one).

jun 18, 2012, 12:30 pm

I thought he was a flash in the pan, part of that New York "Brat Pack" that emerged in the 80's...and disappeared without a ripple.

AMERICAN PSYCHO did it for me. An over-hyped, carefully and shamelessly conceived outrage, irredeemably stupid and mercenary.

jun 18, 2012, 12:52 pm

jun 18, 2012, 7:05 pm

113: AMERICAN PSYCHO did it for me. An over-hyped, carefully and shamelessly conceived outrage, irredeemably stupid and mercenary.

I thought it was brilliant for exactly those same reasons. Nobody more "stupid and mercenary" than an American stockbroker -- or whatever the hell Patrick Bateman did? Then again, that's the only BEE book I've ever bothered to read.

Redigeret: jun 19, 2012, 12:18 am

AMERICAN PSYCHO wasn't smart enough to be ironic, Karl. It was an artless shocker, handled without depth or subtlety. The "controversy" around it was invented purely to sell books, gussied up as a fatuous test of the limits of freedom of speech, First Amendment rights, etc. Thanks to all the cover stories and pseudo-debate, a rotten book sold scads of copies. And then its author disappeared, rightfully consigned to the literary scrap heap.

jun 18, 2012, 9:48 pm

116: Yes, but you're approaching it as an independent-minded Canadian. BEE hit the nerve when it came to portraying the inner psyche of the typical Wall Street yuppie scumbag. Who needs depth and subtlety when it comes to anvilicious fables? That's what it was: a fable. Mr. Ellis ain't no Henry James, that's for damn sure. But the junk bond-trading Ivan Boeskies who engineered the 1986 Crash weren't Carnegie or Rockefeller either. The book is a perfect distillation of the superficial rot and macho psycho idiocy that permeated the United States in the 80s. A book of its time that captured the coke-addled superficiality. Great Literature: hardly. But I wouldn't put a Van Halen song in the same category as John Cage either.

I also haven't read another Ellis book, nor do I plan to. I'll be charitable and put him in the same category as Orson Scott Card and George Lucas: one-hit wonders with one era-defining work under their belt, but have been creating diminishing returns ever since.

Then again, I like Robertson Davies and that dude seems to drive Canadians into apoplexy for whatever obscure-ass reasons I can't fathom. Apparently this bearded yutz who looks like an Al Hirschfield caricature is the Literary Antichrist in Our Healthcare Doesn't Suck-Land.

jun 19, 2012, 12:27 am

>117 kswolff:

I love Davies. Whom did he drive into apoplexy and why? I don't know anything about his reception, except that I thought he was universally loved.

jun 19, 2012, 3:23 am

Fifty Shades of Grey is apparently the fastest selling paperback ever. Next year expect to find zillions of copies of it cluttering up charity shops and secondhand book shops.

jun 19, 2012, 9:57 am

#118--universally loved? Robertson Davies? Not among the Canucks I know. Since his death, Davies' work (except perhaps because of the occasional appearance on a college syllabus) has virtually disappeared from our literary memory. I joked in one article (years ago) that if you're looking for a quick fire-starter, Davies' tomes were perfect because they were fat and dry and would go up like a torch. I always found his "humor" debatable and his prose unexciting.

Nothing he wrote can hold a candle to Mordecai Richler or, say, NOT WANTED ON THE VOYAGE by Timothy Findley.

There are far better Canadian writers out there than old, fusty Robbie.

jun 19, 2012, 10:12 am

Yeah but who wants a second hand porn book? I dont like to think I need rubber gloves to hold my book because no tellin what that book as been though!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Redigeret: jun 19, 2012, 10:33 am

>120 CliffBurns:

Wow. De gustibus, perhaps, but I found the Deptford Trilogy one of the high-points of my reading life. I agree he belongs to a different era somehow but, well, that was a better era :)

Redigeret: jun 19, 2012, 10:40 am

Oh, shoot, go ahead and argue the point, Tim. That's what this group is all about. I know Karl likes Davies and there are, no doubt, others in our group who would leap to the old fart's defense. My tastes are peculiar and entirely my own and subject to the same biases and downright idiocy that afflict us all.

jun 19, 2012, 10:51 am

Well, let us both agree that Davies was better than 50 Shades of Grey.

jun 19, 2012, 11:08 am

Whoo-hoo! Put 'er there, pal.

jun 19, 2012, 11:09 am

I would like to stand up for Davies as well. Deptford Trilogy was a reading experience I will never forget and I also loved the Cornish trilogy.

jun 19, 2012, 11:12 am

See, Tim?

jun 19, 2012, 5:03 pm

I enjoyed the Deptford Trilogy but found, when I had finished, that I had no desire ever to read it again. I have it on a shelf somewhere and every so often I think, "?" and then "Nah!".

jun 19, 2012, 9:25 pm

Better than Fifty Shades of Grey, an Incomplete List:

1. Ulysses
2. Earthy Powers
3. American Psycho
4. the Deptford Trilogy
5. the Dodge Dart
6. Experiencing the Dresden fire-bombing during World War 2.
7. Getting stuck in an elevator with Gilbert Gottfried
8. The Holocaust
9. The Toxic Avenger, I - IV.
10. Ferdinand Celine's view on humanity.

jun 20, 2012, 1:49 am

#129: Very incomplete.

jun 20, 2012, 9:44 am

If it's not too late to put my fifty (American) cents in, I have to agree with Karl about BEE. I think American Psycho was/is ironic; you can't, I think, read the 8 or 10 pages about the genius of Phil Collins's music and not think so. If nothing in that book convinces you that what BEE is lampooning is in part himself, then Glamorama will prove the point. That's the single most superficial novel I can imagine ever having been written--or rather, superficiality is its subject, which it embodies in its very form by having as its narrator a deeply vain NYC male model. Sometimes an entire page is just a list of highly ephemeral names he's dropping from the party he attended the night before....

jun 20, 2012, 10:35 am

Ah, well, to each his own. I still very much doubt Ellis is smart or talented enough to grasp the concept of irony. For him, "irony" is the mysterious process by which his drycleaner removes the wrinkles from his pants. AMERICAN PSYCHO as some kind of moral or ethical statement of the greedhead mentality in New York in the 80's? Then it's more stupid, inept and ham-fisted than Oliver Stone's "Wall Street". And that's saying something.

The novel created a splash, made its fading author another pile of money before he slipped off into obscurity. Where he still resides. And may that ever be the case...

jun 20, 2012, 10:28 pm

132: What exactly were you expecting? Depth, nuance? The book's title is American Psycho? It's like seeing a Herschel Gordon Lewis movie and being outraged that the film lacks the metaphysical nuances of, say, Solaris

And Oliver Stone's Wall Street may be all those things -- he does lay the moralizing on a bit thick, then again, that's how we Bible-thumpin' Americanos likes it ... how else would you explain the alleged popularity of Ms. Ayn Rand and Mr. Joel Osteen? -- but Gordon Gekko is one hell of a charismatic villain. Bud Fox, on the other hand, had all the personality of a wood block and just as much acting range.

jun 21, 2012, 9:40 am

Not to argue anymore, Cliff, about our respective opinions of BEE--there's no middle ground in a case like his--I'm not so sure his obscurity is as total as you might wish. The one book I bought in Peru (mostly because the mall in Lima where I bought it only had one shelf in English, about as long as my forearm) was BEE's Imperial Bedrooms, so they're still publishing him.

jun 21, 2012, 9:53 am

He's had several books published since American Psycho. Not to mention film adaptations of American Psycho (plus a sequel starring William Shatner), The Informers and Less Than Zero. The novel after American Psycho, Glamorama, was okay, if little more than a more heavy-handed version of its predecessor. I have Lunar Park somewhere but have yet to read it, and can't be arsed to even pick up a copy of Imperial Bedrooms.

jun 21, 2012, 10:04 am

Geoff: surprised he has that many books about. I've seen none of them about and know of no discussions or interest in his works, new or old.

To me, he's one of those "Whatever happened to...?" cases.

Like Tama Janowicz, remember her?

jun 21, 2012, 9:19 pm

136: To me, he's one of those "Whatever happened to...?" cases.

Considering he became famous in the 80s -- that esteemed decade of taste and restraint -- I'd call him the literary equivalent of David Hasselhoff

The person/screenwriting program/poorly edited Id that wrote Fifty Shades of Grey will be remembered as the literary version of William Hung -- Uber-popular, no damn talent, on a show watched by post-menopausal social conservatives, and gone in 14 minutes 59 seconds.

This comet of amateurish sex-prose will be replaced by yet-another Flavor-of-the-Month that all the suburbanite cattle will read because everyone else is reading it, be it Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Jodi Picoult, Twilight, the Hunger Games, or whatever. The heart of the matter is this: In the end, the content doesn't matter. That's a red herring. The most vile and repugnant thing is this middlebrow desire to "read what you're told" (a similar behavior to their "do as your told" mentality) and to behave like domesticated sheep (my apologies to sheep, who at least provide warm wool and gyro meat). I bet it would be even more popular if the book came with a complimentary armband and pair of fuzzy hand-cuffs. (The sexual bondage is no big deal, it's the willful mental bondage that's truly disturbing.)

No wonder this book sold so well and Prick Santorum did so well during the primaries.

jun 22, 2012, 6:51 pm

Fifty Shades of Grey should be charged with plagiarism. Eric Idle worked very hard on this sketch:

"... with a melon?"

Redigeret: jun 24, 2012, 1:15 am

I picked up FIFTY SHADES while waiting for Sherron at the drug store, read the first line--the first LINE, folks--and giggled.

I've tried to find it to reproduce it because the line is so wrong, completely inept. Shoot...can anyone quote it here?

Redigeret: jun 24, 2012, 1:23 am

Got it. The first line of that mammoth runaway bestseller, FIFTY SHADES OF Y'KNOW:

"I scowl with frustration at myself in the mirror."

Let's just take a quick red pencil to that, shall we?

"I scowl at the mirror."

The "with frustration at myself" is completely extraneous, not to mention tuneless, the kind of gaffe a Grade 8 diarist would make. Who the fuck else would be in the fucking mirror?

Fuck, the people who read this shit are stupid. No getting around it. As dumb as fucking fenceposts.

Redigeret: jun 24, 2012, 9:51 am

I award one giggle for the line itself, another for your commentary.

jun 24, 2012, 10:23 am

141: Not "It was a dark and stormy night ..."? Even for the fatuous hackery of bestsellerdom, that opening line is a bit thin.

Here's what Gore Vidal has to say about the whole "looking into the mirror" shtick in popular literature, in this case the much-vaunted The Winds of War by Herman Wouk:

"We get the Mirror Scene (used by all pop-writers to tell us what the characters look like: "the mirror told her a different story, but even it seemed friendly that night: it showed ..." " from "The Top Ten Best Sellers", 1973 in United States: Essays 1952 - 1992

If I wanted to read a diary with abundant perversity, saucy nuns, and the occasional theological-alchemical discourse, I'll pick up a copy of Giacomo Casanova's diary or some Anias Nin

"Go ahead, America, gorge yourself on sub-standard offal. I'll be over here eating the literary equivalent of a steak."

jun 26, 2012, 5:11 pm

I sold my first copy of 50 Shades today, to a customer who was suitably shamed by the whole experience. I was on a 3-for-2 offer with two other books she was buying, so I told her I could put this particular tome through as the free one for the sake of her conscience. I thought I controlled my facial expression very well but she started to justify herself, unprompted, immediately she arrived at the counter, saying that everyone is telling her she has to read it.
If there's a moral in this, it may be that it pays to evangelise - one of my proudest moments as a bookseller was talking a prospective Dan Brown purchaser to take a copy of Possession instead.

jun 26, 2012, 5:59 pm

jun 26, 2012, 6:45 pm

Where DO you buy "mummy porn" these days?

jun 26, 2012, 11:32 pm

ahh boo, i was beat by about 100 posts. still, that is about the hardest i've laughed in weeks....

jun 27, 2012, 1:55 pm

144 THAT HAS TO BE THE FUNNIEST THING EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks I needed that LOL so bad now maybe a few co-workers may just live to see another day.

jul 10, 2012, 11:44 am

Upside: It prompted me to read Tess of the d'Urbervilles!

jul 10, 2012, 1:18 pm

jul 10, 2012, 7:19 pm

150: I didn't know Thomas Hardy was into writing bondage slash fiction?

Redigeret: sep 12, 2013, 7:31 pm

ANA talks about how she likes that book and says Hardy is her favorite author. CHRISTIAN gives her an expensive old set of Hardy books or maybe it was just the 'Tess' book. It made me curious so I downloaded a free copy from amazon! Now THAT (Hardy's Tess) is good writting!

jul 12, 2012, 7:17 pm

Maybe 'Tess' is mentioned so often because it is about an 'innocent and powerless victim' (per the back of the book) and some wealthy man.

jul 12, 2012, 8:30 pm

This seems to be the new trend: publishers snapping up the rights to popular slash fiction sites. I do find it very disturbing actually. I mean, could you imagine a film company snapping up the rights to student film or someone's home video collection? Is the publishing industry really getting this desperate?

Having read some of the quotes, I can't even see the appeal of the sex scenes. "Badly written" isn't the worst accusation you can level at a work of erotica. The worst insult would be "boring", and quite frankly, I found those quotes boring. Part of the appeal of reading erotica is that it builds anticipation. The actions of characters are so unpredictable that you can't wait to read what they do next. It's the same anticipation you feel when your making a love to a new partner for the first time and aren't familiar with he's sexual style and technique yet. The passages from "Grey" read like every bondage scene that's ever appeared in film or literature. It's every cliche in the book (so to speak). How can it be exciting if there's no anticipation?

jul 13, 2012, 2:05 pm

OK I just have to say that "Sweater McTits" is a funny name. It sounds like a punk band led by my favorite local singer Storm Large.

jul 13, 2012, 4:39 pm

jul 13, 2012, 10:24 pm

154: Maybe 'Tess' is mentioned so often because it is about an 'innocent and powerless victim' (per the back of the book) and some wealthy man.

That would also explain the appeal our dumb-as-cattle electorate has for Mitt Romney

jul 19, 2012, 4:18 pm

KSWolff: re the electorate - and some of them may think that 50 Shades is great literature. I heard that sentiment on the train this morning. The woman was wearing a Romney button.

jul 19, 2012, 6:54 pm

159: Then she's probably into Mormon gangbangs.

jul 19, 2012, 7:00 pm

Not sure about the protocol of posting links to this LT challenger, but it is a very funny review (although some of the .gif files are clunky)

jul 20, 2012, 3:28 pm

Funny and spot on, Anna. These are the same criticisms I've read in other reviews and yet the readership grows for this series. Mystery of mysteries.

jul 21, 2012, 12:11 pm

Andrew O'Hagan on the "Fifty Shades" phenomenon and the historical pedigree of the shite-awful mass market smut book:

jul 21, 2012, 11:46 pm

>163 kswolff:: kswolff, thanks for posting Andrew O'Hagan's review. I love the reference to mother's liking it because, "there's no mess on the carpet afterwards and everyone uses condoms". I actually find it funny that he refers to the constant mentioning of brand names as a "harkening back" to the decadence of the '80s. I've found that the obsession with brand names has actually worse now then it ever was in the '80s. Our average incomes have made us more covetous of the "right" brand names rather than less.

>161 anna_in_pdx:: anna, love that review! It's one of the most entertaining reviews I've ever read, and I love that she addressed the real concerns about the plot of the book, as well as the issues with writing and cliches. "Inner goddess"? really? Does anyone really think that marketing-speak coined by a ladies' razor company is a reflection of how women actually think about their sexuality? Apparently E.L. James does. The more I hear about this book, the more I despair for the erotic imagination of women everywhere.

jul 22, 2012, 11:26 am

Cliff: You may be certain, oh, we all will, that 50 Shades has/will have imitators of the worst kind on the bookshelves soon - if they aren't already there.

jul 22, 2012, 11:28 am

Oh dear, Cliff, they might like it - ouch! Did I type that out loud?

jul 22, 2012, 11:29 am

Erotic literature has taken off because, as one friend told me, no one can see the cover of the book you're reading when you use an e-reader on the commute train...

jul 22, 2012, 11:30 am

164: If I wanted poorly written "lifestyle porn," I'd read Atlas Shrugged ... oh wait, I did read that book. ***Shudders like an ex-hostage*** Seriously, there's writing, bad writing, and the way Ayn Rand writes. She makes Stephen King look like a disciplined minimalist and she makes Bret Easton Ellis characters look morally well-adjusted.

jul 22, 2012, 11:46 am

Cliff: Don't lose faith. I am also a published author with a small, Canadian press, and it's frustrating to see piles of 50 Shades and its imitators and other badly-written but brilliantly marketed books on the tables in the shops. I had to physically bring one of my titles to a meeting with a store buyer before the store started carrying my work. I was told by other buyers at other shops that I was too esoteric, too literary, and they couldn't sell it. Did they try? No. At this story willing to take a chance, I'm on the shelf in the literature section right next to George Eliot - I let others judge whether that's a good or bad thing.

jul 22, 2012, 11:51 am

Lola, if you see me with my e-reader, please know that I'm usually reading histories - but not of porn...

jul 22, 2012, 11:55 am

Excellent use of the 'f' bomb in a post, Cliff. When I read that opening sentence, I was curious to know what frustration looked like, being in the mirror and all...

jul 22, 2012, 11:58 am

169: At this point, I'm for letting Fifty Shades have its day in the sun. Not for any charitable reason, but only to hasten its inevitable "fifteen minutes of fame" and then we can get on with our lives. Yes, it's a terrible book. Yes, people are worse off for reading it. Yes, the millions EL James has accrued is an inevitable sign of the Apocalypse/Singularity/Cubs winning the pendant. Can we stop drawing attention to it already!?! The greatest retort is not hyperventilating snobbish blast, but casual indifference. Our collective outrage -- which is getting a wee tad tiresome at this point -- only validates these philistines reading that whale vomit of sexual retardation. "See! Look at what that David Mitchell reader is doing when I say I like Fifty Shades! Ha ha!"

What? You're reading "Fifty Shades"? Pfft, whatever.

These same people will read whatever the Bestseller List tells them to read. Our frothing rage and King Lear-esque sword-swinging at the sea will make no difference whatsoever! Save your energy for what really matters. Something something carbon footprint TED Talks.

jul 22, 2012, 12:05 pm

Ellen: best of luck with your writing and I'm certain Karl is right, FIFTY SHADES has had its day in the sun.

To the remainder bins and thrift shops with it!

jul 22, 2012, 12:09 pm

Let's let Clive James lift our collective spirits with some poetic snark:

'The Book of my Enemy Has Been Remaindered'

The book of my enemy has been remaindered
And I am pleased.
In vast quantities it has been remaindered
Like a van-load of counterfeit that has been seized
And sits in piles in a police warehouse,
My enemy's much-prized effort sits in piles
In the kind of bookshop where remaindering occurs.
Great, square stacks of rejected books and, between them, aisles
One passes down reflecting on life's vanities,
Pausing to remember all those thoughtful reviews
Lavished to no avail upon one's enemy's book --
For behold, here is that book
Among these ranks and banks of duds,
These ponderous and seeminly irreducible cairns
Of complete stiffs.

The book of my enemy has been remaindered
And I rejoice.
It has gone with bowed head like a defeated legion
Beneath the yoke.
What avail him now his awards and prizes,
The praise expended upon his meticulous technique,
His individual new voice?
Knocked into the middle of next week
His brainchild now consorts with the bad buys
The sinker, clinkers, dogs and dregs,
The Edsels of the world of moveable type,
The bummers that no amount of hype could shift,
The unbudgeable turkeys.

Yea, his slim volume with its understated wrapper
Bathes in the blare of the brightly jacketed Hitler's War Machine,
His unmistakably individual new voice
Shares the same scrapyart with a forlorn skyscraper
Of The Kung-Fu Cookbook,
His honesty, proclaimed by himself and believed by others,
His renowned abhorrence of all posturing and pretense,
Is there with Pertwee's Promenades and Pierrots--
One Hundred Years of Seaside Entertainment,
And (oh, this above all) his sensibility,
His sensibility and its hair-like filaments,
His delicate, quivering sensibility is now as one
With Barbara Windsor's Book of Boobs,
A volume graced by the descriptive rubric
"My boobs will give everyone hours of fun".

Soon now a book of mine could be remaindered also,
Though not to the monumental extent
In which the chastisement of remaindering has been meted out
To the book of my enemy,
Since in the case of my own book it will be due
To a miscalculated print run, a marketing error--
Nothing to do with merit.
But just supposing that such an event should hold
Some slight element of sadness, it will be offset
By the memory of this sweet moment.
Chill the champagne and polish the crystal goblets!
The book of my enemy has been remaindered
And I am glad.

Clive James

jul 22, 2012, 12:23 pm


jul 22, 2012, 10:08 pm

Where's the Like button?

jul 23, 2012, 1:01 pm

Yeah, why isn't there a like button? That was brilliant.

jul 24, 2012, 9:10 am

People are DUMB.

Redigeret: jul 24, 2012, 2:30 pm

I say this semi-seriously. Why don't you folks with a gift for the written word strike while the iron is hot? Crank out some drek that would still be heaps better than 50 Shades and make a fortune. That old novel you could never get published? Slap some humpin' in there! It's got to be better odds than playing the lottery. Then you could kick back and focus on quality work. Of course as a graphic designer and not a fine artist, my mercenary streak may be wider than yours.

You could use a pen name and stay mysteriously out of the public eye. If your family wonders how you came by all that money, you could make up a less damning explanation. For instance, maybe you seduced a wealthy old man/woman/horse and the money was willed to you.

Please note that I'm not trying to kick the beehive, just that it's amusing to speculate. Hmm.... Now that Tommy Kinkade has left a big smarmy void in the world of pseudo-art, perhaps I should pull my neglected paintbrushes out of the drawer.

jul 24, 2012, 3:06 pm

Ah, Fred, I'd rather burn me fingers off with a blowtorch.

Ms. James can sleep on her mattress stuffed with all the money she's made.

I just hope she's the kind who smokes in bed...

jul 24, 2012, 3:19 pm

Yeah, yeah, but even if you thought I was on to something, you might say the same thing for the sake of deniability.

jul 24, 2012, 3:44 pm

I don't think writing that sort of stuff on purpose is as easy as writing it because that's the only way you can write - after all, there's only one William McGonagall. Apart from anything else, it's incredibly difficult not to make it sound like a parody.

jul 24, 2012, 5:15 pm

John Steinbeck tried it when he was struggling to finish his first novel. Disgusted with the garbage he saw being published and jealous of the success of people he knew who he considered awful writers, he wrote a trashy murder mystery called "Murder by Moonlight," I think, under the pseudonym Peter Pym, and threw in every trashy plot twist and sensationalist device in the book.

It failed to find a publisher. It is very difficult to write something that you hold in contempt.

Redigeret: jul 24, 2012, 6:51 pm

183: Auntie Catherine, you just made me nostalgic for my old stomping ground of Dundee.

"...It must have been an awful sight,
To witness in the dusky moonlight,
While the Storm Fiend did laugh, and angry did bray,
Along the Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay,
Oh! ill-fated Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay,
I must now conclude my lay
By telling the world fearlessly without the least dismay,
That your central girders would not have given way,
At least many sensible men do say,
Had they been supported on each side with buttresses,
At least many sensible men confesses,
For the stronger we our houses do build,
The less chance we have of being killed."

I hope you're not suggesting that this is not art.

jul 24, 2012, 7:30 pm

Ohhhhh my......

jul 24, 2012, 7:33 pm

I tried and failed miserably. But, maybe I should try again.

jul 24, 2012, 7:53 pm

The reason it doesn't work is for the same reason that well-written erotica doesn't sell as well: most people like to "play" at being "edgy" but don't actually have the stomach for it.

If you'll allow me a bondage metaphor, Fifty Shades of Grey is "vanilla erotica". The main character is into S & M (edgy), but he's supposedly that way because he was sexually abused (vanilla). A well-written work of erotica would acknowledge that there is a part every man likes to feel powerful and strong, and a part of every woman who loves to feel her lover's strength and know that she's at his mercy. Most people don't indulge these instincts so far as to practice S & M, but we do feel them. The kind of people who love Fifty Shades, love it because speaks to our primal instincts while still decrying them as "abnormal" and making us feel very moral indeed.

But a well-written work of erotica wouldn't shy away of the fact S & M has it's roots in very normal, healthy feelings, and wouldn't condemn it as abnormal. So all your soccer moms would be far too appalled to want anything to do with it.

jul 24, 2012, 10:13 pm

188: The reason it doesn't work is for the same reason that well-written erotica doesn't sell as well: most people like to "play" at being "edgy" but don't actually have the stomach for it.

Edgy, you say?

(a teen magazine editor asks Daria for her definition of "Edgy")
Daria Morgendorffer: As far as I can make out, "edgy" occurs when middlebrow, middle-aged profiteers are looking to suck the energy - not to mention the spending money - out of the "youth culture." So they come up with this fake concept of seeming to be dangerous when every move they make is the result of market research and a corporate master plan.

Fuck this edgy noise, I'll be back reading some George Bataille and Jean Genet

Redigeret: jul 25, 2012, 6:34 am

189: Love that quote. I put edgy in quotation marks because I was trying to point out the marketing angle used to promote such books. I hate that kind of advertising lingo, but it is incredibly effective at making people feel like they're being naughty, when they are being anything but.

jul 25, 2012, 9:47 am

Lovelypride - speak for youself

jul 25, 2012, 10:02 am

191, thanks, if there is anything less compelling than 50 shades it is evo psych bullshit.

jul 25, 2012, 11:26 am

jul 25, 2012, 1:15 pm

Some readers say the book is “unputdownable”. the subject of the book (sex, especially if it’s kinky) attracts readers. Fifty Shades Of Grey is not porn, although it is specific and very sexual. And nothing to do with the fact that I am once again in a long distance relationship and the fact the book is extremely sexual, nope! It was more like curiosity. Fifty Shades Of Grey has received some nasty reviews, and now I’d like to refute some of them. You can read a detailed review on this book here
It may not be the perfect book, but I think some people may get unfair prejudices just by reading some reviews. So, I would recommend it (for open minded people, of course, as the sexual reference might not be for everyone’s taste).

jul 25, 2012, 3:09 pm

It isn't the sexuality of the book that offends me, it's the paucity of talent, its utter tunelessness, the ineptitude of the author, the crimes against language it commits in literally every paragraph.

As to the "sexuality", the various excerpts I've read provoke peals of laughter, rather than erotic thoughts.

Serious readers have passed judgement on this turkey: leave it to the sexually frustrated, juvenile minds is was intended for.

jul 25, 2012, 3:13 pm

Don't need the reviews - I've read it myself. It was thrust (ooh errrr) into my hands with a merry cry of "You like books". Reading it was like walking on broken glass, constant wincing, and that was only the prose. The first line drops off the page with a resounding clang and it doesn't get any better.

As far as I'm concerned, it's porn, being written to arouse and having no other possible effect.

Except possibly nausea.

And how dare you assume that people dislike it from prejudice and bad reviews. I am perfectly capable of despising it all by myself.

jul 25, 2012, 4:03 pm

"It may not be the perfect book...."

Gosh, really?

jul 25, 2012, 4:19 pm

194: That is an interesting website, looks very um, commercial - but I don't think the people on this particular list are your target audience.

Some of us have better things to do than read crappy books we won't enjoy. This does not mean we are prudish about sex/porn. Quite the contrary, we actually have another conversation going on about well written porn, which exists. 50SOG is not it. And no we don't have to read it if a review gives us an idea of what the writing is like and it is not our cup of tea. Why would we?

jul 25, 2012, 4:33 pm

>191 AuntieCatherine:: To which of my comments are you referring, Auntie Catherine? Advertising lingo being effective at deception, women wanting to feel that they are at their lover's mercy, or the fact that not everyone practices S & M?

jul 25, 2012, 5:07 pm

194 & 198: Be careful going to that website. If you click on the link for Prisqua's review, you might experience the same thing as I did. A new window opened and seemed to want to download something to my computer. I closed it as soon as I saw "Your download will begin in a few seconds" or words to that effect, so I didn't see what what the download was.

jul 25, 2012, 7:40 pm

>192 anna_in_pdx:: that "evo psych bullshit" as you call it, is the reason the human race has a sexual impulse in the first place. Without natural selection and survival instinct, sex, romantic love, and the social rules that are attached them wouldn't even exist. If you can honestly say that, as a straight woman, you've never been turned on by feeling the strength in your lover's body and by knowing that he is capable of hurting you but won't because only he wants to use his strength to pleasure you, then you're either lying to yourself or you're missing out on one of the great pleasures of sex: being able to trust your lover without hesitation.

jul 25, 2012, 7:50 pm

Ick! No, the idea that he could hurt me really does not turn me on. Really. The idea that you think it should is appalling. Evo psych IS bullshit.

Redigeret: jul 25, 2012, 8:36 pm

>202 anna_in_pdx:: LOL! I guess you're not big on trusting people then. Oh well. To each their own.

And, incidentally, the turn-on doesn't come from thought that he could hurt me, but from the knowledge that he chooses not to.

jul 25, 2012, 10:05 pm

Look, whatever gets you thru the night is fine with me, but acting as if your personal tastes are the only real ones is really silly, leave us each to our own sex lives and if we are not into s&m no need to tell us we are lying to ourselves. Peace.

Redigeret: jul 26, 2012, 4:50 pm

>204 anna_in_pdx:: Wow. You really didn't read my posts fully, did you? I'm not into s&m. And I'm not saying everyone should be. I'm saying that those who do practice s&m don't have to be abused, damaged freaks as Fifty Shades tries to claim. To pretend that our ancient, primal instincts play no part in our sex lives, is like saying hunger plays no part in the culinary arts. Of course they are connected, and always will be. Some people indulge those instincts to a far greater degree then most of us (including myself) would be comfortable with, but that doesn't mean the emotional desires (emphasis on "emotional") that drive them to peruse that sexual practice don't exist in all of us.

jul 26, 2012, 10:23 am

"...that doesn't mean the emotional desires (emphasis on "emotional") that drive them to peruse that sexual practice don't exist in all of us."

Emotional desires/sexual fantasies are hardly universal; each person has their own peculiar quirks and predilections. S & M and power games may appeal to some and be a huge turn off to others. I've read some very good eroticism that did nothing for me, simply because the ideas and practices described just weren't my cup of tea.

Different strokes (ha ha) for different folks.

Redigeret: jul 26, 2012, 4:56 pm

Sexual fantasies do vary. Our cultural upbringing and family philosophies teach us to believe certain things, and that colours what we find appealing but certain basic emotional needs stay the same. These are the wants driven by physical survival: food, shelter, sex (survival of the "tribe"), belonging (strength in numbers = increased chance of individual survival), and so on.

Look at the men that are consistently named "sexiest man alive" in popular culture lists. They're all 6 feet tall or taller, with very muscular builds: your typical "alpha males". This is no accident. A large, strong mate is not only capable of defending his female and her offspring from a physical attack, but is more likely to produce large, strong, healthy offspring who have a better chance of survival themselves.

The stereotypical image of a young man trying to impress his girlfriend: he invites her to watch him play his sport of choice. A display of his strength and physical abilities that he believes will "win her heart". Why does he assume this will win her love? Because instinct is stronger than logic, and even though the ability to wrestle bears is no longer necessary to survival, he instinctively understands she will find a display of physical strength attractive. And he's right; she does.

Now go and have a look at the forums where fans of Fifty Shades of Grey are posting. Read how they gush about "sexy" Christian Grey. These women aren't closeted s & m practitioners. They are ordinary women, who would be appalled at the thought of being involved in an s&m relationship. But physically aggressive Grey has them oohing, aahing, and waxing poetic. If they didn't find strength attractive, do you really think so many soccer moms and church ladies would rushing out to buy this book, regardless of how terrible the writing is? The fantasy overpowers our principles because it has it's root in our survival instinct. It isn't what we would actually want to live with in reality, but the fantasy is exciting.

jul 26, 2012, 10:15 pm


I have to say, I find it deliciously ironic to see male "strength" extolled in the context of this book and the romance genre in general. I mean--THAT is a balls-cutting, masculine-power-sapping genre and paradigm par excellence!!! What's THE story, the one and only story every single title of the type pushes? The saga of a "powerful" macho, a cruel, sneering tiger being tamed and domesticated into a lovable plushie for the exclusive use of one super special lady! No wonder most men can't abide it.

As for the pseudo-biological hokum, there's only one general (not universal--there is such a thing as asexuality) "primal" sexual instinct, and that is to have sex. Anyone who isn't asexual is desirous or capable of having sex with one, two, more, any or all of the following: men, women, sheep, chicken, garden vegetables, Disney characters, mechanical implements etc. Nothing more is needed for survival of the species than this compulsion to have sex. As for individual survival, your utterly silly equation of physical strength with survival didn't hold even back when we lived in caves. Very strong men can be felled by a virus, an axe, poison, a zillion manifestations of their own stupidity and others' cleverness and so on ad infinitum. Short men sometimes need to be no taller than Napoleon.

You go all woozy at the thought that your boyfriend could do you grievous bodily harm, but doesn't; well, does it ever occur to you what damage you could do to him? I mean, I assume you're not Tinkerbell. Anyone with a forefinger can, at a minimum, blind a person with an eye. For instance. And yet, mostly, we don't. Sexxxy.

Others have tried to point out (in vain) that your "facts" aren't facts at all, merely your personal preference, which you expand into some sort of "rule" based on no science to speak of and a forum with others with the same preference. But there are plenty of forums out there of ALL kinds, including where submissive men look for women to dominate them. How do they--submissive men and dominant women--fit into your little world? How do homosexuals? "Versatiles"? How do people who prefer to feel they are in equal partnerships, in bed as out of bed? How do men who, all questions of "domination" aside, simply like statuesque, tall women? How do women who prefer the looks of girly men? How do men and women who are turned OFF by any hint, including strictly imaginary, of violence?

If you're at all interested in finding out about the true nature and diversity of sexual interests in the human species, I suggest as a first stop Dan Savage's "Savage Love" column and his archive of letters.

Redigeret: jul 27, 2012, 1:02 am

>208 LolaWalser:: what makes you think that a dominant women can't enjoy playing submissive for the sake of the game? I assume that we can at least agree on the idea that sex should be playful?

I only addressed in my previous post the primal basis for female attraction. But the human race wouldn't have survived if men weren't also attracted to women based on survival strategies. You assume that because men are the physically stronger gender that that means women must be weak or useless. That is the flaw in your logic.

Look at the women who consistently make the list of desirable women in men's magazines: tall, strong, fit. Female athletes often make the cut while women's magazine's lists of beautiful women ignore female athletes altogether. For our species to have survived, both genders had to find strength attractive. Ironically, it's women who scoff at the idea that a physically strong woman can be attractive, not men. Strong women are more capable of defending their offspring. Ever notice that outdoor guides consistently give the advice to avoid female animals with offspring? There is nothing more dangerous than enraged mother defending her children. Nature doesn't leave any animal - including human females - without the ability to defend themselves.

This easily opens the door to men finding powerful women seductive, and to the dominant woman-submissive man scenario.

I find it disturbing that you say that because a couple act is equals in real life that they can't enjoy sexual role-playing in the bedroom. Are you really that incapable of separating fantasy from reality? Do you really believe that a strong woman couldn't possibly enjoy playing submissive occasionally? Or that a strong man couldn't possibly enjoy playing submissive. What a boring love-life that would be: having no variety in the bedroom. You seem to think that all of the sexual scenarios you list happen independently of each other. That the dominant woman always has to play dominant, the dominant man always has to play dominant, the equal couple are incapable playing at domination, and the homosexual couple couldn't possibly take pleasure in playing dominant-submissive bedroom games. You mention "versatiles", but it doesn't seem to occur to you that we are all versatile in our sex lives.

As for the men that you so condescendingly describe as "girly men", I assume you mean men of a slimmer build with delicate features. Let me enlighten you as to the variety of the human form. I am a 5 foot-5 inch tall woman who wears a size 0. I was also described by an artist friend as being the perfect blend of masculine strength and feminine softness. I weight train and swim. I trained as a gymnast in my youth and years of practice and training have left my body rock solid. I am small and powerful simultaneously: as are small men. The strength is still present, it just assumes a different form. As for height, tall is comparative. My sister is 5 feet tall. Her husband is 5 foot 6. To her, he is tall. But I can't wear heels and stand next to my brother-in-law without towering over him. What a woman perceives as "tall" is all down to perspective.

You talk a lot a about diversity, but you really don't seem to understand just how much diversity there can be in one person's sex life. Assuming, of course, that you can separate fantasy from reality.

As for books like Fifty Shades and romance novels, they are the product of people trying to civilize sexuality, not the result of our primal drives. And there I agree with you: they are disgusting and offensive. The strong independent man is always domesticated and the woman never sets one toe outside the carefully prescribed role society has carved out for her. As far as I'm concerned they are an insult men, women, and sex.

jul 27, 2012, 9:21 pm

The strong independent man is always domesticated and the woman never sets one toe outside the carefully prescribed role society has carved out for her.

That encapsulates the sexual politics of every Republican campaign platform ever, including the one Lincoln ran. In the words of Eric Cartman, zenith of human civilization and nuanced wordsmith, "Git yir bitch-ass back into the kitchen and bake me a pah!" Glad to see the readers of Fifty Shades have the emotional development of a foul-mouthed racist 8-year-old.

jul 28, 2012, 2:25 pm


Wriggling and writhing of that order is worthy of an Olympic rhythmic gymnastics routine, but I'm afraid it's too late for medals or even a cookie.

Putting words into my mouth (i.e. LYING) about what I have said, only makes me cross and unwilling to further bother with you. Pretending to hijack the arguments you obviously don't understand, OTOH, is still deliciously ironic. But, beyond a couple of laughs, I'm writing you off as pure waste of time. Go yank another chain--maybe someone's who'd enjoy it! ;)

jul 29, 2012, 1:47 pm

LovelyPride, please shut up. You're being extremely offensive to those of us who aren't straight with the so-called "typical" or "essential" drives/desires that are really just examples of your own beliefs and personal identity. You're basically saying that the rest of us are broken or wrong or disordered for not being exactly like you (or like whatever the media is pushing today), and that is unacceptable. What you and the media are perpetuating is harmful even to straight men and women, if they don't conform.

Also, I'm not sure if you've realized, but the ideal of men/women who are ranked in the "Most Attractive" or "Most Desirable" or whatever has changed a lot over the years according to fashion and cultural shifts? That whole athletic/strong thing isn't exactly consistent...just look at how the rakes were fashionable back in the 1660s or even Gary Cooper in the 1920s. Cooper had to change his image in the 1940s because the debonair, stylish, perhaps even foppish image had fallen out of fashion.

I'm also not too fond of the derision towards romance novels in this thread while other genres are given a pass as being okay, even if not Literature. They're all pulps, they just have different themes and audiences. And there are different qualities of romance, just like you have different qualities of sf or horror. Harlequin/Mills & Boon are fairly famous for standardizing a fairly terrible plot pattern with stereotypical character types that are easily mocked, but there is a huge spectrum out there. The main element of romances, from what I can tell, is that the primary plot has to do with personal relationships and character growth, usually related to a romantic relationship, and with the promise that the ending will be a Happily Ever After. (But I suppose all this is neither here-nor-there since we are Literary Snobs and no one is trying to argue that romances are Literature. I can't even think of one off the top of my head that I'd recommend, since when I read them, it's a junk food thing. I'm a snob about my junk food and won't eat just anything, but sometimes I really want to indulge in something bad for me.)

jul 29, 2012, 4:27 pm

>212 keristars: (and 211): If you really wanted me to shut up, why did post a 3 paragraph post with the goal of attacking my opinions in an attempt to provoke me into answering? After it was obvious I had offended Lola, I was going to sit on the sidelines for awhile for diplomacy sake, and then you, who hadn't posted a single comment in this thread until now, suddenly charge in with your size 12s just for the pleasure of attacking someone with as much venom as you can muster. I don't expect everyone to agree with me, but I do expect people to engage in a debate good-naturedly without resorted to phrases like "shut up" and calling people "a pure waste of time"; especially the people on this forum who tend to be well-educated and should know better.

jul 30, 2012, 12:04 am

Time: British Hotel Replaces Bedside Bibles with Fifty Shades of Grey

jul 30, 2012, 6:50 pm

214: I'll be bored either way. Then again, I prefer Song of Songs vs. the latter book's tampon scene.

jul 30, 2012, 9:38 pm

I think it's a bad idea. Hotels make a lot of money on pay-per-view porn. There's no sense in providing the porn for free.

jul 30, 2012, 9:54 pm

216: One can stay home for that.

jul 31, 2012, 10:17 am

At least make it quality porn, fer Chrissakes.

jul 31, 2012, 10:41 pm

218: Until we start a "porn for discerning intellects" thread ...

jul 31, 2012, 11:00 pm

>219 kswolff:: We already have one. It's called "Erotica: Intelligent Alternatives to 'Fifty Shades of Tedium'".

aug 1, 2012, 6:59 pm

220: It depends ... since erotica has better lighting than porn.

aug 2, 2012, 2:24 am

221: Precisely. But let us not forget that quality in photography is entirely about lighting.

aug 3, 2012, 4:33 pm

No. 196 - AuntieCatherine. Thank you for your comment.


aug 3, 2012, 7:40 pm

I feel as though I am an intelligent woman, and I can't wait to read them!!!

aug 3, 2012, 8:45 pm

If you're an intelligent woman who doesn't mind wooden prose, and predictable (and therefore, boring) sex scenes then you'll probably enjoy them. Although, I can't say I know many intelligent women who do enjoy either of those things. And if you're a well-read, intelligent woman, then it's even less likely that you enjoy either of those things.

aug 3, 2012, 10:04 pm

225: So it's basically Atlas Shrugged, except the sex scenes are better written and the characters are more dynamic and likeable.

aug 5, 2012, 12:06 pm

To 225, kswolff: Basically, that sums it up.

aug 6, 2012, 10:48 pm

Are there really sex scenes in Atlas Shrugged? Objectivists in bed, goodness me, what a thought. There's nothing worse than a selfish lover.

aug 6, 2012, 10:57 pm


aug 6, 2012, 11:47 pm

228: You betcha. Here's a delightful sample:

It was not the pressure of a hand that made her tremble, but the instantaneous sum of its meaning, the knowledge that it was his hand, that it moved as if her flesh were his possession, that its movement was his signature of acceptance under the whole of that achievement which was herself – it was only a sensation of physical pleasure, but it contained her worship of him, of everything that was his person and his life – from the night of the mass meeting in a factory in Wisconsin, to the Atlantis of a valley hidden in the Rocky Mountains, to the triumphant mockery of the green eyes of the superlative intelligence above a worker’s figure at the foot of the tower – it contained her pride in herself and that it should be she whom he had chosen as his mirror, that it should be her body which was now giving him the sum of his existence, as his body was giving her the sum of hers. These were the things it contained – but what she knew was only the sensation of the movement of his hands on her breasts.

This isn't a sex scene, this is someone taking a shit on the page and calling it philosophy. Hence my unquenchable volcanic anger at the Teahadist movement and the other slack-jawed whitebread yokel idiots who turn Ayn Rand into Capitalist Jesus. Ayn Rand represents everything that is wrong with our country. Or, put another way, Stalin missed one. It's his one unforgivable crime.

Redigeret: aug 7, 2012, 12:09 am

I laughed out loud when I read that passage. And women are actually getting turned on by this? That's just disturbing.

Incidentally, aren't people usually physically and mentally "present" during sex? What are doing taking a mental day-trip while his hand is on your breast?

aug 7, 2012, 12:29 am

I thought sex was 90% mental.

aug 7, 2012, 12:33 am

232: at least! :)

Redigeret: aug 7, 2012, 2:15 am

232: my point was that her thoughts should have been in the moment, not pondering how much pleasure she's getting from her own imagination.

"It was not the pressure of his hand the made her body tremble..."
Well then, either your numb from the neck down, or he's doing something wrong.

I've always found that sex, at it's best, is a form of physical communication, but for that to happen, both partners have to be paying attention and picking up on each other physical cues. This reads like it was written by a very selfish woman who takes from her partner but never gives back. "Sweater McTits" (see post 156) may as well be laying there like a dead fish.

aug 7, 2012, 3:11 pm

Fifty Shades of Grey became the top-selling book of all time in the UK

Can a knighthood be far behind?

aug 7, 2012, 3:51 pm

Oh god, Brits, we think of you guys as highbrow. Havent you guys heard of sites like Literotica where you can read this kind of drek for ever and ever and people are writing it for free?

aug 7, 2012, 4:02 pm

Hmmm. Razor blades or the rope? I can't make up my mind.

aug 7, 2012, 10:47 pm

231: Dagny was taking a mental day trip to distract the reader from the fact that John Galt has a three-inch dick ... and he prefers the muscular comforts of East German men (Naked Gun reference! Topical!).

aug 7, 2012, 10:54 pm

>238 kswolff:: Lol!
Well, I guess we all need a hobby: muscular East German men seems as good a pastime as any.

aug 8, 2012, 2:19 am

Oh god, Brits, we think of you guys as highbrow.

Have you never watched Britain's got Talent?

aug 8, 2012, 7:16 pm

How can one call Brits highbrow when they are still addle-patted over the recent wedding of their hemophiliac German spawn to a stick-thin Barbie? How did anyone take this nation seriously? And how did these tea-drinking yahoos take over half the planet?

aug 8, 2012, 9:12 pm

Wrong thread, that would be ask the limey. Not that amurcans are anything to write home about!

aug 8, 2012, 9:38 pm

242: As a limey living in America, I do, in fact, write home about Amurcans quite often.

aug 9, 2012, 12:11 am

Should I stick my oar in and point out that every nationality is only as advanced as it's dumbest citizen, and therefore every nation is a flawed bunch of "yahoos"? Or would that be too reconcillatory (and stereotypically Canadian) for a debate about the failings of tea-drinking yahoos and coffee-drinking yahoos (aka "Amurcans").

aug 9, 2012, 12:24 am

No sugar tonight in mine. (I drink both)

aug 9, 2012, 12:26 am

240: isn't that the show where housewives and assorted punters sing beautiful opera songs and make me cry?

aug 21, 2012, 12:26 pm

Well, at least this new e-book erotica series has an honest title:

aug 21, 2012, 5:48 pm

Does anyone else get the impression that our society is regressing somehow? Billionaires whisking off the office temp was a common plot in 1950s & '60s romantic comedies (except back then it was millionaires). This is just sad.

Redigeret: aug 21, 2012, 5:54 pm

except back then it was millionaires

Culture's 1,000 times better! (100 times better in Britain, though.)

Redigeret: aug 21, 2012, 10:41 pm

If you judge using monetary terms only.

I'm not saying we haven't improved since then, I'm just saying that we are in danger of losing the gains we have made.

aug 22, 2012, 9:48 am

I just pray and hope that in 50 years or so this trash will not become known as the old "classic", but I wonder how many book we think as classics now was nothing but trash when it was first edition print???

aug 22, 2012, 11:23 am

250: If you judge using monetary terms only. Perhaps the money shots are in larger denominations than we proles are used to.

aug 26, 2012, 3:01 pm

The relationship between Fifty Shades of Grey and Venus in Furs made me think of this quote from Pattern Recognition by William Gibson:

“There must be some Tommy Hilfiger event horizon, beyond which it is impossible to be more derivative, more removed from the source, more devoid of soul.”

Is Fifty Shades of Grey a "Tommy Hilfiger event horizon" for the erotica genre?

aug 26, 2012, 4:52 pm

No, it's a Twilight event horizon. What Twilight itself is derivative from, I have no idea.

aug 26, 2012, 5:35 pm

"Buffy the Vampire Humper!"

Redigeret: aug 27, 2012, 5:09 am

Hey Cliff, don't "knock" MY Buffy.
Oh, how many cheap inuendos there?

Well I came late into this discussion, and will probably not "backfill" (unless seriously advised)

So? Should I read the "50" versions, or not?

I am not sure if anyone has mentioned The Story of O
Which I did read as pornorgraphy and was confounded in why it did stick in my mind.

But I didn't regard Henry Miller Nexus etc. as porno.
I remember I was swept away by that trilogy.
Almost as much as Razors edge

Though different times, different ages.


aug 27, 2012, 10:05 am

There isn't a paragraph in 50 SHADES that wouldn't qualify for the "worst written sex scene" award.

How people can think this fucking garbage is erotic baffles me.

To quote Yoko Ono: there are a lot of lonely people out there.

Yup. And STOOPID ones.

aug 27, 2012, 2:13 pm

257: How people can think this fucking garbage is erotic baffles me.

Remember, these are the same sanctimonious dingbats who think gay marriage is a threat to their marriage. With an intellectual foundation like that, of course they would think this shit is sexy.

aug 27, 2012, 2:20 pm

This has come up before, and it's just odd. No, 50 Shades of Grey is not primarily a religious-conservatives book.

aug 27, 2012, 2:44 pm

It's a marketing phenomenon like a lot of silly best sellers. It's just worse-written than most and more pornographic than most. People run out and buy things that have a slick marketing campaign. I have friends who I know are intelligent college educated people who are buying it and reading it just because of all the hype. I have told them not to bother but they want to see what all the fuss is about.

My sister heard about it and didn't know it was porn. The marketing has been misleading unless you are a book person who frequents book oriented websites and follows book oriented news. Not everyone fits into this category.

Bandwagon advertising is a thing, because it works. That is all there is to this.

aug 27, 2012, 5:58 pm

When I was recovering from my Hysterectomy back in April my sister was like go pick up 50 Shades and so of course I looked it up and it was soccer Mom Porn. 1. That is the last thing I need right now is porn and 2. No Thanks Im sure I can find something of interest besides this. She called me a book snob. But that is okay.

Redigeret: aug 27, 2012, 7:53 pm

>259 timspalding::
I think the reason 50 Shades has been labelled "a religious-conservatives book" is because the plot (as thin as it is) is basically a 1950s romance-novel plot. Poor virgin student (You found a female virgin in her 20s in 2012 who isn't devoutly religious? Call the Guinness Book of World Records!) meets a morally-corrupted Billionaire. They have a steamy, passionate affair and she shows him the error of his ways and "saves" him. Story ends with engagement/wedding scene.

It's Cinderella meets the Gospel according to George W. Bush.

aug 28, 2012, 4:17 am

Dear Anna, #260,

Like your "educated friends", I too now want to see what all the fuss is about. And, unfortunately, though I do accept recommendations FOR, I am reticent in accepting "DO not look now, this is disgusting/bad writing/etc.

Monkey curious :=)

I think I have though worked out a PLAN. My Local book Pusher, has a work room, and allows me to read new books there. Thus I will read a few chapters for free and thus:
a) not support a "shit" writer
b) satisfy my curiosity.

The moral of my tale is. Support your local book store!


aug 28, 2012, 11:36 am

259: This has come up before, and it's just odd. No, 50 Shades of Grey is not primarily a religious-conservatives book.

But it's not a denial either, since those Bible-thumping hypocrites seem to be devouring this little bit of erotic gristle with great abandon. Then again, these thugs of the Cross tend to be religious for about an hour a week, then go back to their usual garden variety banality and brutality that is a hallmark of their tribe.

Fuck em if they can't take a joke.

aug 28, 2012, 11:46 am

The fact that it is the biggest seller ever in Britain, which I don't think is a really evangelical country, would seem to indicate that this is not its primary market and that it is doing very well among people of various political stripes.

aug 28, 2012, 12:36 pm

Stupidity the only common denominator.

aug 28, 2012, 12:59 pm

No one has a corner on that. Sadly.

aug 28, 2012, 9:58 pm

>265 anna_in_pdx:.
Be careful about assuming that the phrase "biggest seller ever" really means anything. The population of Britain has increased steadily since the Renaissance. As has the percentage of literate people. To see how well a book is really doing, you have to take both the literacy rates and the total literate population in account. A sort of "per literate capita" calculation.

I do agree with Cliff's assertion that stupidity is the culprit. Although it might be a combination of stupidity and sexual frustration.

aug 28, 2012, 10:47 pm


aug 29, 2012, 12:13 pm

I think a quote from This is Spinal Tap about "Smell the Glove" is appropriate:

"This tasteless cover is a good indication of the lack of musical invention within. The musical growth of this band cannot even be charted. They are treading water in a sea of retarded sexuality and bad poetry."

The last five words would make a succinct review of Fifty Shades of Grey

Redigeret: aug 31, 2012, 2:02 am

But it's not a denial either, since those Bible-thumping hypocrites seem to be devouring this little bit of erotic gristle with great abandon. Then again, these thugs of the Cross tend to be religious for about an hour a week, then go back to their usual garden variety banality and brutality that is a hallmark of their tribe.

I see no evidence they are devouring it. Like the or don't, Christian commentators have been practically the only cultural force opposing it—omitting literary sophisticos, perhaps. Maps of buyers show it's popularity is concentrated in the Northeast, the least religious part of the country. I see nothing here but a rather desperate and unconvincing need to unify hatreds.

aug 31, 2012, 2:18 pm

271: The Christians of the Midwest are also guzzling it down. Granted, they aren't the biggest buyers, but they are still a force. Hell, without moral hypocrites, would porn make any money in this country?

aug 31, 2012, 2:21 pm

k, I really think Tim has a point here that you are refusing to see. If it were only Xian conservatives who were causing the 50 Shades phenom, your point would make more sense. But they clearly are not. They aren't really responsible for every weird and stupid fad that comes along. Only some of them. :)

Redigeret: aug 31, 2012, 9:38 pm

Ah, yes. Welcome to the Dumb and Dumber age. When everything cheap, shallow, and pointless is idolized, and things that are thought-provoking and tasteful are shunned. This is a tragic time in history for those of us who are still in the habit of using our brains.

But I think filmmakers are digging themselves a very big hole if they are seriously contemplating making a film out of this. Even the best erotica does not transfer well to film. Lolita the book turns people on, but every film adaptation of that book creeps people out and sends them running for the door. The idea of a mature man having an affair with a teenage girl is provocative. Actually watching sex scenes with a grown man and teenage girl is just nauseating. I think the same thing is going to hold true with 50 Shades.

Reading about S & M: provocative.
Watching a man whip and beat his lover: nauseating.

sep 1, 2012, 10:31 am

>275 Gail.C.Bull: She wasn't teenage, she was 12 initially. He's a pedophile, and the book is about his pedophilia. It's not provocative. It's disturbing. But Nabokov wrote it so that he actually manages to make Humbert come across where you almost want to feel bad for the guy. Except, he's ruining a little girl's life in the process, even if she does act like a brat most of the time. The films were well done, except for the censorship issues they had to contend with. You're not supposed to feel comfortable watching a grown man manipulate a little girl into sleeping with him and becoming his lover-slash-captive. That's the very nature of the book.

And as for the book in question here, this utter pile of crap, it's fanfic of Twilight- which they made several incredibly high-selling movies of, so I don't see why they'd fail at this one. They'll simply tone it down.

sep 1, 2012, 3:55 pm

275: Ah, yes. Welcome to the Dumb and Dumber age. Isn't that Every Age since we started to walk upright? Puh-lease! Just look at the Boomers. They got us to the Moon and back, yet they gave Paul Anka a career. The US gives women the right to vote, and what happens next: we get Sarah Palin as a VP nominee. Clearly, idiocy is hereditary. You want a smarter age, stop poppin' out shorties and start educating the ones we already have to deal with. Yes, I understand this post is a tad misanthropic. Then again, the words Fifty Shades of Grey inspire less outrage than hope for a nuclear holocaust.

sep 1, 2012, 6:27 pm

>276 .Monkey.:

Agreed. Lolita is disturbing to everyone but pedophiles and people who just can't process that a charming human first-person narrator is both human and monster. For my money, the Kubrick movie is wonderful—one genius taking on another, selectively but brilliantly. The Adrian Lyne film is terrible on every level. I'd even say it's immoral in places, though mostly by misreading the book.

sep 1, 2012, 9:23 pm

Ah, Karl #277, you make me want to vomit and at the same time praise you.
As an early 'boomer', I hate my generation.

Self-righteous, smug, Oh yes "...What do we want... Everything,... When do we want it NOW..."

Oh yes, "let me die young" and then still have a retirement "rock" tour in my late '60's!

I guess I was influenced by my parents generation, who were "soldiers" at the age of 18. And after the war had to become parents...

sep 2, 2012, 6:03 am

Fifty Shades of Grey may be a shit book, but this discussion of it is currently one of the longest threads in the group...

Redigeret: sep 2, 2012, 10:26 am

>226 kswolff:. True, but the fact still remains that erotica in any form does not transfer well to film. That was the point that I was trying to make.

Ian (280), there's nothing like the opportunity to rant about bad literature to make the literary snobs come out in full force.

sep 2, 2012, 10:51 am

279: Ah, Karl #277, you make me want to vomit and at the same time praise you.
As an early 'boomer', I hate my generation.

Self-righteous, smug, Oh yes "...What do we want... Everything,... When do we want it NOW..."

Despite the fact that the Boomers singlehandedly destroyed the global economy (just like the parents of the Greatest Generation did ... thanks a lot, Gatsby), stick us with the check, yet want all the entitlements of Medicare, Social Security, etc. (This is an attack on a plural "you," not on your Guido-ness, no ad hominems here.) It makes me wish, deep down, in those dark places, that Medicare and Social Security DO get de-funded. Because the older generations are overwhelmingly siding with the Mormon plutocrat and Cheesehead Objectivist in this upcoming horse-race/waste of time/fund-raising orgy/coin flip. Yeah, go right ahead, Teahadists, defund Medicare, I dare you. No, I double dog dare you. And when you're in the hospital, beneath a K2 of self-induced medical debt, Fifty Shades or Left Behind at your bedside, don't come groveling to me to get you out of your damn mess. The Boomers keep telling me about raising themselves up by their bootstraps. You do that, Bedridden Sick Methuselah, and stop bothering me!

(Post ghostwritten by the Spirits of Thomas Bernhard and Ferdinand Celine, the latter of medical accuracy.)

Redigeret: sep 2, 2012, 11:49 am

> 277 kswolff -- It wasn't the Boomers who sent men to the moon. It was our parents, "the greatest generation" who sent men to the moon with their tax dollars while they also forked over the green for our college tuition. It was also "the greatest generation" who paid for the Kennedy and King assassinations and for the ensuing cover-ups.

Thus it is the parents of the Boomers who get the praise (moon mission) and the blame (dead Kennedys) for the sixties. You'd know that if you'd been cognizant at the time.

Conservatism is intellectually inexpensive, to say the best of it. No wonder they're all taxophobic.

Redigeret: sep 2, 2012, 1:11 pm

"yet want all the entitlements of Medicare, Social Security, etc. ...It makes me wish, deep down, in those dark places, that Medicare and Social Security DO get de-funded"

You may get your wish yet, but these are not really entitlements for the Boomers. They spent a lifetime paying into that system while some of the earlier recepients did not.

On the subject of Fifty Shades - there was an incident during my last visit to one used bookstore I frequent that I would have loved to some of the people here react to. As I was looking through books nearby, the shopkeeper was calling a patron to let them know Fifty Shades of Grey was ready for them to pick up. I just took a deep even breath and kept to my own business.

sep 2, 2012, 2:07 pm

283: The Boomers may have gotten to the Moon, but it was using "our Nazis," aka Werner von Braun and friends.

sep 2, 2012, 2:07 pm

>278 timspalding: Actually the Adrian Lyne version is the one that made more effort to follow the book, while Kubrick went way off with the Quilty excesses, which personally I was not at all a fan of. Both movies had their good and their bad, neither one "does it" for me completely. I think it's just something you can't fully put on a screen. You just can't get in a character's head on-screen the same way that you can in a book, so it's not possible for it to have that same impact. But I do think Jeremy Irons did a great job of being ...well, everything that Humbert was supposed to be. I thought he was a far better Humbert.

Redigeret: sep 2, 2012, 7:28 pm

> 285 -- Again: It wasn't the Boomers who went to the moon. It was the Boomer's parents, the people who fought WWII, who ran the country at that time and did those things. I was born in '48. The men who went to the moon were more than old enough to be my father. Of that generation of astronauts, some of them (Chuck Yeager, for example) flew fighters in combat in WWII. John Kennedy, the man who set the nation on the path to the moon, was a decorated hero of WWII in the Pacific. "The Boomers," as you call us, have never been to the moon. It was "the greatest generation" that went to the moon. It was "the greatest generation" that sent "the Boomers" to Vietnam. It was "the greatest generation" that killed MLK and the Kennedys and then orchestrated the cover-up.

You can say otherwise until you're blue in the face, but it won't alter the facts. History knows the truth in this case. I was a sophomore in high school when John Kennedy was shot. I joined the Marines expecting to go to Vietnam in 1968 because (I was told) my country needed me. I KNOW what happened in the Sixties, because those events shaped my entire life -- and the life of the nation. Those who weren't cognizant when Kennedy was killed (1963) have no idea -- not the vaguest clue -- what life used to be like in America. Everything changed at that moment, but it took decades for the changes to show clearly.

Brokaw called them "the greatest generation." I look back and call them "the generation that destroyed fascism in Europe and Asia -- and then brought it home for the rest of us to enjoy."

sep 2, 2012, 9:51 pm

Actually the Adrian Lyne version is the one that made more effort to follow the book

In theory. That was it's selling point. But it slavishly followed some details while getting more important things totally wrong. As many have noted, it's not funny—not even trying to be funny. That misses the real thing by a mile.

sep 3, 2012, 4:57 am

>288 timspalding: There were funny moments, but the overall atmosphere wasn't, no. I really don't like one, as a whole, more than the other. There's specific elements from each that I like, and dislike. I loved Jeremy Irons, hated Melanie Griffith; did not care for James Mason, couldn't stand Shelley Winters but because Charlotte is awful - she played her well, hated Peter Sellers in his entirety. Both Sue Lyon and Dominique Swain brought different good & bad to Lolita. I get irritated when movies totally change stuff in books, so I didn't like all the changes in Kubrick's, especially, as noted, Quilty. urgh. So I enjoyed that Lyne did a much better job following the story. But there were other elements of Kubrick's that I enjoyed also. So, yeah, no winner for me, just winning & losing elements of each. :)

dec 10, 2012, 11:09 pm

#38 Couldn't agree more!

dec 10, 2012, 11:12 pm

#140 Brilliant!

maj 16, 2013, 2:23 am

I'm new here. I write Literary Erotica. It's very different than 50 Shades. I write for literary purists. xxoo! from Valentine. My short stories have been published at Cleansheets and Erotica Readers & Writers Association. Has been compared to Nin. Purists all read Joyce, Reage, and so forth...