Review: Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

Hello, I am the only 40-something woman in America who doesn’t think this book is impossible to put down. In fact, I’ve had it on my Kindle for a month and stopped reading at about 80%. “What is Fifty Shades of Grey?” you ask. Mom porn. It hurts me to type those words, as they are two words which really should never be used together, ever. Seriously, sorry.

I realize that people aren’t reading this book for its fine literary merit. And while it’s true I am an avid reader, I am also a regular gal, so I won’t pretend I haven’t read my share of smut over the years. What surprises me is why this particular series of smut has taken off to the degree which it has, and I can only conclude that there are a vast amount of women out there who either never knew such naughtiness existed or never picked up a book past high school. And for some reason, this upsets me. It upsets me that women I like and respect are calling this drivel “good” and turning this ding dong author into a millionaire with movie deal. It’s kind of like witnessing people who’ve never eaten ice cream in their life suddenly discover McDonald’s soft serve and they think it’s the best ice cream in the world and all they keep talking about is, “OMG, have you TRIED this amazing ‘ice cream’ from McDonald’s? It is SO GOOD! I can’t believe how amazing this ice cream tastes!” Painful, right? What can you even say to that?

His voice is warm and husky like dark melted chocolate fudge caramel… or something. — Fifty Shades of Grey

When it comes to saucy books, I lean more towards the classics: Sidney Sheldon, Judith Krantz and Jackie Collins being the unholy trinity. Or, if you prefer, check out some of the more respected romance writers. Anne Rice writes under the pen nameĀ A.N. Roquelaure for her Beauty trilogy, which I haven’t read myself but hear is quite good. At least you get a legitimately interesting story woven in with your sex. Heck, even picking up a Harlequin Romance at an airport newsstand has to be better than this. So, you see, I am trying to establish some street cred here, homies. I sometimes read trash, too. I don’t think I’m better than you are for reading trash. But let’s be clear: my trash is higher brow than Fifty Shades of Grey, which is so trite, one dimensional, sloppy and cliche-ridden it makes the plot of any Lifetime movie seem like Anna Karenina.

It is the justice-seeking part of my brain which is the most offended. I am not a real writer and don’t pretend to be, but I am a real reader. And I know there are some truly talented authors in this genre who have been toiling away for years, and those people deserve your dollars and appreciation. So to see such sloppy, overwrought Twilight fan fiction making my otherwise smart and sensible friends go gaga? Fifty shades of grey matter from my head exploding.

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