Sunday, August 5, 2012

50 Ways (To Leave Your Lover)

So, it's time. I haven't blogged in so long because I was not ready to post over my last one. And while I'm still processing, still figuring out how to move on, moving on is what Kevin would expect me to do so... I'm gonna talk about a book now.

Okay, so I finished reading 50 Shades of Grey. I was compelled to read it by not just my friends who said it was a great summer read, but also by my friends who warned me about how bad the book was.  I figure any book that elicits such a visceral reaction deserves a read.  For those of you who asked me what I thought, here you go:  for my friends who said they were waiting to see what I thought before they read it, I'd harly consider what I'm writing below "spoilers", but I do share some details.

I think these are the only books E.L. James has written, though her wiki article says she's a TV executive. So she's had some access to fiction. Her Wiki article has her admitting shock to the success of this novel. Ain't that alway the way? In my opinion, it's no question this book has catapulted to the best seller list because of the shock value of the BDSM (thanks, Laura-Leigh for explaining THAT particular acronym to me). As opposed to say, The Help, which spread by word of mouth because it was a fascinating, well written debut.

What she got right:
-  The email exchanges.  For the most part, Ana didn't get on my nerves AT ALL when she was sending emails -- she was honest and witty.  And that was the only time she didn't get on my nerves.  I could buy that this man intimidated her enough that she felt she couldn't honestly express herself in person, BUT, I really didn't know enough about Ana to know this (see below for what got on my nerves)
- Some of the erotic scenes, not the ones that were supposed to be SO NAUGHTY, but the first one, and other subsequent ones made me...ahem...flush crimson
- I think the story was SLIGHTLY (and I do mean SLIGHTLY) more plausible because (spoiler here) she was a virgin. By her own admission, she wasn't interested in her sexual side until Christian. I think I get that. i also get that when you're with your first lover, you're inclined to be more trusting of their adventures, particularly if you had none.
- Whether meaning to or not, she kind of set up that Ana would be ripe for submission through her relationship with Kate. That was the most one-sided friendship I've ever seen in chick-lit. From commanding her to take the interview to simply moving her to Seattle with her, I never got the sense that Ana had any thoughts of her own. 
- He bought her a MacBook. Ha! Just kidding!

What she got eh:
- She did a credible job to showing us that Christian Grey had a hard time (Pun intended). For whatever reasons, his view of intimacy (not sex) was a bit skewed. Kinda wish I knew more about that now that the book is over.
- In one email, she explains to Christian that she's conflicted by enjoying something she's supposed to find abhorrent. If she had expanded on this email for say, the entire book instead on one page, I think I would have a different opinion. THIS is the entire conflict right here.  It's not the spanking or the bondage -- as Christian said -- RIGHTLY -- two consenting adults get to choose what's acceptable.  it was that she COULDN'T resolve the conflict between her mind and her body. I don't know anyone who hasn't been there at LEAST once in their lives...and not just sexually.  Expand on that, you've got a worthy book to which anyone can relate.  What we got was: "Oh Crap. I feel conflicted. What to do. Here he is. He took my panties. I love him". Oh bother. 

What she got completely wrong:
- The dialog. She was a literature major, for crying out loud!! I get that Ana was tongue tied a lot of the time with Christian. I did NOT GET that E. L. James couldn't do a better job of voicing what was in Ana's mind. If she had said Holy Crap one more time...
- Christian Grey - total caricature. I got that Ana was captivated by this man, but I couldn't understand why. Unless it was purely sexual, leading to...
- I can buy that a 22 year old in her first sexual relationship would mistake sex for love (especially with that guy, who, upon occasion, loomed larger than life). But I don't get why she thought it was more than that...yes, some emails and some vulnerable moments, but all the guy did was [sex] her socks off (and the Mac). Okay, I'll withhold my judgement on that one. I tripped on that pebble a time or two.  Didn't like it about myself, either. ;)
- There's a fine FINE line between caring and stalking. Not sure Christian was always on the right side of that. Proving another point that has nothing to do with this book -- in a nutshell -- it's complete bullsh!t when people say "I don't kiss/go to bed with/sleep over" on the first date. What they are saying is "I haven't made up my mind about you yet."  Seriously (back to the book), I'm in GA to get away from you and you show up at my hotel and no red flags go off in my mind? Whatever.
- The end. I don't like books that don't end. Yes, I know it's a trilogy. It should still be story that ends, in its own right.

My friend Maria suggested I stop using my literary eye to read this book. And after a while, I did think that perhaps it would go better on me if I were in on the joke.  Something that she also got right -- this book keeps people talking.  Hell, I've written an essay on it right here!

All in all, it wasn't AS bad as I was expecting, and I'm intrigued enough about Christian to read book 2. But oddly enough, I want to read it because I HOPE there's some more character building, not for more moments of crimson. I can't say I know these people enough to care abou them all that much.