Friday, August 10, 2012

Fifty Shades of Bad Writing  

Those of you joining me from Goodreads have most likely read my reviews of the three piles of horse excrement titled, respectively, Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, and Fifty Shades Freed (otherwise known as E.L. James's magnum opus). Those of you who haven't may do so by following the links below, if you're so inclined (be forewarned, my reviews are NSFW and contain images/language which may upset some pussies readers).

My review of Fifty Shades of Grey
My review of Fifty Shades Darker
My review of Fifty Shades Freed

My review of the first book went a bit viral (surprising the hell out of me in the process), and I've endured both praise and censure for my admittedly harsh critique. Some people have told me this trilogy doesn't deserve the negative judgment I've heaped upon it because it's "just a book" or "some people like to escape into a fantasy" or my personal favorite, "It's really well written and a great story!"


I'll be the first to admit all three of my reviews focused on the personal. Most reviews are inherently biased because they are dependent on the feelings, judgments, and thoughts of the reviewer. So here's where I've decided to do something a bit different. Before moving on to the meat and potatoes of this post, however (point #3), I will first state my case for the first two points.

Argument #1 - "It's just a book!"

My rebuttal:

No. Sadly, this is no longer "just a book". As much as I (and a lot of others) wish it were, it can never be. Perhaps one day, far, far in the future, mankind will be able to look back and say, "Fifty Shades of what?", but that day isn't today. This has become the pathetic standard for erotic fiction. It is supposedly "revolutionizing" sex, and bored housewives everywhere are schliking to the idea of some high-handed emotional fuckwit like Christian Grey swooping in and pounding their stench trenches into oblivion. This "just a book" is a cultural phenomenon, and it stands to gain even more traction and influence after it's translated into several different languages and foisted upon unsuspecting foreign populations like fecal bombs from a fighter jet. Just a book. Yeah. And Salmonella is just bacteria.

Argument #2 - "Some people just like to escape into fantasy every once in a while!"

My rebuttal:

If this is the kind of "fantasy" thousands of women want to escape to, I hereby resign my membership in the chick club. Whatever happened to the fantasy of a man who cares enough about you to...oh, I don't know...respect you? Even if we remove the physically abusive aspects of the story, the psychological abuse is still present, and Christian Grey is still a fucking cockbag. Anastasia Steele has the intellectual prowess of a salt lick, true, but Christian supposedly loves her. Should he really be walking around shaking his head and laughing at her like she's the dumbest piece of ass he's ever had the pleasure of pounding? It's insulting. So where is the fantasy in this? All I can figure is that the women who use this book as fantasy fuel are only reading the sex scenes. Because if you read anything in between, this is what you're fantasizing about:

I'm Ana Steele. I'm awkward, insecure, petty, jealous, naive, ignorant, and about as intelligent as your common,  garden-variety grub. I love Christian Grey, who alternately humiliates me, threatens me, laughs at me, orders me around, guilt trips me, has zero respect for my boundaries, sulks when he doesn't get his way, and undergoes more mood swings than a menopausal schizophrenic on meth.

That's it, ladies. That's your fantasy.

Argument #3 - "It's really well-written! A beautiful love story!"

This is the pinnacle argument, the comment that makes my logic center explode into pealing gales of laughter. Because, honestly, anyone who's ever read anything before should be able to recognize that these books are not well-written.

I'm being completely serious here, I've read children's books with better prose and more engaging plot lines. Don't believe me? Let's look at the plot first.

Young idiot girl meets youngish idiot abuser and has to overcome her fear of the kinky nasties and her petty rage jealousies in order to cure him of his perviness with her magical panty hamster.

That is the plot. 

No, really. That's it. There are "obstacles" thrown in the way here and there (in the forms of a ridiculously clingy older woman, a clinically insane ex-sub, and a cartoonishly villainous ex-boss), but all of those are treated as side notes to the actual story, which is Ana and Christian gettin' their fuck on in as many ways as E.L. James could think of (which, sadly, wasn't many).

As for the actual writing? I'll let it speak for itself.

"The elevator whisks me with terminal velocity to the twentieth floor."

"I push open the door and stumble through, tripping over my own feet and falling head first into the office. Double crap - me and my two left feet!"

"'They're lovely. Raising the ordinary to extraordinary,' I murmur, distracted by both him and the paintings." - What makes this one even worse is that Grey is actually impressed by her amateur attempt at art critique.

"His gaze is intense, all humor gone, and strange muscles deep in my belly clench suddenly." Does she have to poop?

Ana works in an "independent hardware store".

"That night I dream of dark places, bleak white cold floors, and gray eyes."

"His voice is warm and husky like dark melted chocolate fudge caramel... or something." - She's a lit major. Just wanted to make that clear.

"'Argh!' I cry as I feel a weird pinching sensation deep inside me as he rips through my virginity." - OK...

1. EW!

2. Did she really scream "ARGH"? No, I mean like....seriously?! Greybeard the pirate be plunderin' her booty.

"I'm so glad I decided to wear my best jeans this morning." - We all are, Ana. We all are.

"I must be the color of the communist manifesto." 

"I am all gushing and breathy - like a child, not a grown woman who can vote and drink legally in the state of Washington." - And only in the state of Washington.

"He has a coffee which bears a wonderful leaf-pattern imprinted on the milk. How do they do that? I wonder idly." - Seriously, she's like, nine years old, right?

"Well, if you were mine, you wouldn't be able to sit down for a week after the stunt you pulled yesterday. You didn't eat, you got drunk, you put yourself at risk."

Oh, yes, Christian! Be my knight in douchey armor! Come tell me how to live my life and explain to me why we delicate little flowers should avoid the devil's water!


"My hormones are racing." 

"I just don't know what his game is? What he's thinking? You've slept in his bed all night, and he's not touched you, Ana. You do the math. My subconscious has reared her ugly, snide head." - She immediately jumps to the conclusion that she's not hot and he doesn't want her because he didn't take advantage of her while she was passed out drunk. What is wrong with E.L. James?

"He passes me a small teapot of hot water and on the saucer is a Twinings English Breakfast teabag. Jeez, he remembers how I like my tea."

"What happened in the elevator - it won't happen again, well, not unless it's premeditated." So it....might happen again...?

Ana on using Christian's toothbrush: "Grabbing it quickly, I squirt toothpaste on it and brush my teeth in double quick time. I feel so naughty. It's such a thrill."

"He tucks a stray strand of my hair that has worked its way free from my ponytail behind my ear."

"And there it is, a white helicopter with the name Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. written in blue with the company logo on the side. Surely this is misuse of company property." 

 He owns the company, you half-wit.

"The memory of Jose's attempted kiss haunts me. I'm beginning to feel a bit cruel not calling him back. He can wait until tomorrow... surely." - Oh, tomorrow at the very least. I know whenever my guy friends get all rapey on me, I make 'em wait at least a month before I return their calls.

"'Does this mean you're going to make love to me tonight, Christian?' Holy shit! Did I just say that? His mouth drops open slightly, but he recovers quickly. 'No, Anastasia, it doesn't. Firstly, I don't make love. I fuck... hard. Secondly, there's a lot more paperwork to do, and thirdly, you don't yet know what you're in for. You could still run for the hills. Come, I want to show you my playroom.' My mouth drops open. Fuck hard! Holy shit, that sounds so... hot. But why are we looking at a playroom? I am mystified. 'You want to play on your Xbox?' I ask. He laughs, loudly." - Seriously, nine years old. Right?

"I can hardly contain the riotous feelings or is it hormones that rampage through my body." - Yes, this supposedly went through an editor. I don't think it's ever been specified whether or not said editor was literate and/or an alcoholic and/or addicted to painkillers.

"His eyes burn into mine, and I'm breathless from their intensity. This is not a man I want to cross... ever." - Well, that's healthy.

"I race into the shower, unable to shake my face-splitting grin. He emailed me. I'm like a small, giddy child." - Yeah. Like a small, giddy child.

"Christian Grey just sent me a winking smiley... Oh my."

"Why hasn't he given me back my panties? I steal into the bathroom, bewildered by my lack of underwear."

"Would I do it again? I can't even pretend to put up an argument against that. Of course I would, if he asked me - as long as he didn't hurt me and if it's the only way to be with him."

"My anxiety level has shot up several magnitudes on the Richter scale."

"Thomas Tallis - I'm not going to forget that in a hurry. I heard it twice, after all, while he flogged and fucked me." - I debated for a time on whether or not to even mention this line as I find it to be the most tasteless out of any of the books. It's completely awkward and clunky, and I want to burn these books for that sentence alone.

"I pull the flattened Charlie Tango balloon from underneath my pillow and hug it to me." - OK, so maybe thinking she was roughly nine years old was giving her too much credit.

"'You look lovely,' he says. 'As do you.' 'Your boss, Jack Hyde, is he good at his job?' Whoa! That's a sudden change in direction?" - I don't know, Ana, is it?!

As Christian is spreading ice cream (ice cream) over Ana's nipples, she thinks, "Oh... it's cold."

Fifty Shades of Stewie Griffin:
When Ana gets a gift from Christian consisting of a few Thomas Hardy first editions accompanied by a note with a quote from Tess of the D'Urbervilles, she thinks: "I am stunned by the irony as I've just spent three hours writing about the novels of Thomas Hardy in my final examination."

That is not irony. That, dear reader, is what is known as a coincidence. This is neither the first nor the last time James incorrectly identifies irony, nor is it the only part of English she doesn't seem to understand. For instance, she repeatedly misuses the word 'literally':

"How could he mean so much to me in such a short time? He's got right under my skin... literally."

 Well, at least now we know why Ana can't seem to shake the psycho. He's not stalking her, she literally can't go anywhere without him because they have literally fused together.

During a helicopter ride in the second book: "...the view is spectacular, literally out of this world."
This, however, was one of my absolute favorites:

"'You look very relaxed in these photographs, Anastasia. I don't see you like that very often.' What? Whoa! Change of subject - talk about non sequitur - from playful to serious."

A change of mood/subject does not a non sequitur make.

Not even euphemisms are safe from Ms. James:

"You wanted to know why I felt confused after you - which euphemism should we apply - spanked, punished, beat, assaulted me."  

^^Not euphemisms^^

I could go on, but honestly, I'd have to type out the entirety of all three books in order to highlight how truly terrible it is. It's just all bad. Ana's goofy grins and Christian's gray gazes and their insipid, ridiculous dialogue. These books are, in all honesty, the worst books I've ever read. And I've read a lot of books.

So would anyone else like to argue the point that these books are well-written?  If you like the book, fine. It makes your giney tickle, or makes you lament the fact that you've yet to find an overbearing misogynist to share your life with, or Christian Grey is better than your husband because he knows what a woman wants and you (for some strange reason) can't be bothered to tell your own husband what you want (which, by the way, isn't your husband's fault).....fine, like away. For all your own bizarre reasons. But please, for the love of ball gags, stop claiming it's well-written.

Oh, and for any trolling jackasses who decide to get all smartassed and say shit like, "Oh, you sure do spend a lot of time on books you hate!" or "You must have no life, seriously!" I have but one response:

I manage my own time, and if I choose to spend it speaking out against this travesty of modern bookage, that's my fucking prerogative, so go fuck yourselves.

Now. The amassed, compiled (from all three books), completely stupendous, splendiferous...

WORD COUNT (please note, this trilogy is roughly 1,700 pages in length):
"Ah" - 73
"And" -  15,261
"Apex" - 15
"Baby" – 275
“Beat” - 76
"Beautiful" - 246
"Beguile" - 4
"Beguiled" - 3
"Beguiling" - 4
"Bemused" - 37
“Bite my lip” - 19
“Biting my lip” - 11
“Bite your lip” - 8
“Biting your lip” - 17
"Blazing" - 31
"Blush" - 91
"Body wash" - 21
"Bodywash" - 2
"Breathes" - 173 
"Clamber" - 26
"Clambers" - 6
"Cocks his head" - 46
"Come" – 513 (5 of which begin the phrase 'Come for me')
"Crap" - 183
"Crimson" - 17
"Delicious" - 102
"Disembodied" - 8
"Down there" - 7
"Dry" - 74
"Dryly" – 48
“Eat” - 170
"Er" - 31
"Erection" - 69
"Erotic" - 33
“Eyes darken” - 14
“Eyes darkening” - 17
"Expert hands" - 3
“Expert touch” - 4
“Exquisite” - 38
“Fair point, well made” - 11
"Fifty" – 178
“Fist” - 18
“Fists” - 5
"Fisting" - 19
"Flush" - 233
"Foil packet" - 18
"Frisson" - 12
"Gasp" - 138
"Gasps" – 41
"Gasping" - 7
“Gaze” - 350
“Gazes” - 278
"Gazing" - 149
“Give it to me” - 4
"Glorious" - 28
"Gloriously" - 10 (6 of which form the phrase "gloriously naked")
"Good girl" – 29
“Gray” (color) - 258
"Gray eyes" – 188
“Grin” - 246
"Grins" - 260
"Grinning" - 61
“Groan” - 126
"Groans" - 88
"Groaning" - 7
"Groin" - 27
"Hair tie" - 16
"Hair ties" - 10
"Hard line" – 31
“He stills” - 50
"Heady" – 27
“His hips” -68
"Hiss" - 5
"Hitches" – 19
“Holy Cow” - 87
“Holy Crap” - 76
“Holy Fuck” - 72
“Holy Hell” - 23
“Holy Moses” - 10
“Holy Shit” - 123
"Hooded" - 26
"Hot" - 169
"Icarus" (flying too close to the sun) - 8
"Inner goddess" - 149
"Jacket" - 121
"Jeez" - 224
"Just-fucked hair" - 5
"Laters, baby" - 26
"Longing" - 26
"Love" - 542
"Lust" - 18
"Mercurial" – 24
“Moan” - 95
"Moans" - 16
"Moaning" - 10
"Mood" - 87
"More" - 929
“Mrs. Grey” - 369
"Murmur" - 274
"Murmurs" - 333
"Mutter" - 187
"Mutters" - 109
"My behind" - 86
"My bottom lip" - 21
"My sex" - 40
"Naughty" – 5
“Nipple” - 47
“Nipples” - 43
"Obey" - 22
"Oh My" - 178
"Oh, Ana" – 55
"Orgasm" -  35
"Pant" - 10
"Panting" - 64
"Please" – 580
“Pleasure” - 107
"Plum dress" - 9
"Pools" – 6
“Punish” - 21
"Quicken" - 3
"Quickening" - 5
"Quickens" - 1
"Release" - 50
"Roll my eyes" - 74
"Roll your eyes" - 8
"Rolling my eyes" - 9
"Rolling your eyes" - 6
"Salacious" - 20
"Sardonic" - 9
"Scarlet" - 21
"Scold" - 25
"Scolds" - 30
"Scolding" - 7
"Scowl" - 19
"Sexy" - 66
"Sharp Intake of Breath" - 11
"Shiver" - 20
"Shivers" - 9
"Shudder" - 46
"Shudders" - 7
"Shouty Capitals" - 5
"Smart mouth" - 11
"Smell" - 51 (7 of which help form the phrase 'Christian smell')
"Smirk" - 52
"Smirking" - 23
"Smirks" – 148
“Spank” - 41
"Subconscious" -189
"Tease" - 34
"Teases" - 25
"Teasing" - 52
“Threat” - 24
"Thrill" - 18
 "Tilts/head" - 41
“Torture” - 24
"Tousled" - 11
"Twitching palm" - 4
"Twitchy palm" - 6
"Undoing" - 20
"Unfathomable" - 10
"Wanton" – 3
"Wet" - 66
“What?” - 122
"Whisper" - 430
"Whispers" - 406
"Whoa" – 57
“Wow” - 87
"Wry" - 13
"Wryly" - 13
"You're mine/You are mine" - 24

(The above word count includes suggestions made by some wonderful people over at Goodreads. Feel free to let me know if I missed anything, or if there's just something you'd like to see on the list, and I'll be happy to count and add it.)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

My first post. My introductory blog. This being my maiden voyage, I suppose I should write something super witty and intellectual. I'm afraid we're both going to be disappointed on that count.

I've been toying with the idea of beginning a blog again for the last couple of years. I used to keep one on MySpace, but then everyone jumped ship and swam to Facebook, and I was left alone and bitter with my words and no one to read them. I doubt things will be much different here, but the opportunity to link all of my madness together means that maybe someone (besides myself) will read this.

I guess I'll get the prelims out of the way first. Hey, there's an idea! I'll use my very first post here to highlight some of my likes and dislikes. Everyone loves it when people talk about themselves, right? Shut up, I'm bored and feeling pent-up and restless.

Books (reading them, collecting them, critiquing them...)
Music (and I mean it. I like music. All around. I don't believe anyone does music wrong or bad, just that there is music I don't like, and that's different)
Italian food (pasta is an unhealthy obsession)
The smell of citrus (but I can't eat oranges or drink orange juice which totally blows)
My night dreams (most of the time, my dreams are more entertaining than anything found on TV)
Dolphins (my favorite non-domesticated animal. Dolphins are sadistic as shit)
Learning (I'm always trying new things, and I'm OK with not sticking with them, as long as I can say I tried)
Psychology (it helps explain some of the complete idiocy I witness on a daily basis)
Genealogy (yes, this ties right in with history, but is in a category all its own. I was recently informed that someone I know doesn't believe in genealogy. Which makes me laugh every time I think about it)
 Color (this new trend of neutral colors in houses, room after room of nothing but beige and white, makes me go a little crazy on the inside)
Scrapping (give me a newspaper, some glue, and a pasting board and I will create functional art)
Collecting things (my dad used to call me his little crow when I was a child)
Video games
Meteorology (yeah, I'm one of those freaks who enjoys talking about the weather, so I get a little offended whenever someone says, "oh god, we're talking about the weather!" like it's the lamest thing imaginable. The weather is awesome! So fuck you!)
Astrology (you wouldn't think a skeptical non-believer would believe in this, would you?)
Alien abduction theories

OK, I've gotten off track, haven't I? Let's try this again...

Dry humor
Procrastination (why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?)
Sex (hey, this is a legitimate thing to list as some people truly don't like it. And that is sad)       
October (fall)
Science Fiction
Gadgets (I'm a freak for technology. When I was a kid I used to run around with a giant book and pretend I was Penny from Inspector Gadget. Now I have my laptop, a Kindle, a Zune, a cell phone, and all my cameras, and it's just not enough. I want a tablet of some kind, not to mention the Intuos digital drawing tablet, a different phone.....)
Used book stores
Notebooks, pens, pencils, etc.
The smell of B.O. from a person I find attractive (they think there might be pheromones present in sweat; I know there are pheromones present in sweat)

Things I dislike:
Extreme heat
Religion (ties right in with the above, doesn't it? hehe)
Reality television
Pecan pie
Shaved coconut ("not the taste; the consistency.")  
Idiot drivers
Unnecessary drama
Public education
Modern pharmacology
Willful ignorance
White kitchen appliances
People who tell teenagers to "grow up" while simultaneously treating them like children
The modern political landscape (seriously, Obama or Romney? Makes no difference at this point)
The U.S. (yeah, and it's my right to dislike it, so cram it)
Pandering children's shows (Barney, The Wiggles, Dora the Explorer, et al.)
The idiotic notion that banning guns will result in less crime
The abortion debate (making it illegal won't make it go away, you morons)
The criminalization of marijuana (see above)

I could probably list more, but I'm sick of this. Bye.