So I'm at the library looking for something to read and my lower back is hurting and I grabbed “Fifty Shades Of Grey,” off the shelf and scampered along. Admittedly, I was curious. The book had created a sensation and led to two more books and films based upon them. I knew it had something to do with kinky sex. What the heck, give it a shot. It's a romance novel written by a woman, E.L. James; it can be interesting to peak behind enemy lines. The book starts out with college senior Anastasia Steele, filling in for her sick roommate and volunteering to interview Seattle billionaire Christian Grey, for her college newspaper. You will note that their last names are “Steele” and “Grey,” thus a degree of creativity is evident. Anastasia, as it turns out, is a twenty one year old virgin who has lead a sheltered life. When Ms. Steele is asked to walk into Grey's vast office, she trips and falls flat on her face. The gallant Mr. Grey then helps her up and tries hard not to smile as he flirts mercilessly with the nervous young faux journalist. Now, the author E.L. James is from England and frankly it shows. These characters do NOT talk like Americans. But then, who wants to read what a real twenty one year old Seattle college student talks like? “Um like dude, totally, what are you doing with those handcuffs?... oh my god!” (taken from an actual valedictory address.) So, you have sort of “Downton Abbey” dialogue and characters who love to watch soccer on TV and drink hot tea. I'm not kidding. Another thing that grabs you when reading this book is just how greedy women are in their fantasy lives. By that I mean that Christian Grey, our hero, is 27 years old, a billionaire and insanely handsome. Is that plausible? Of course not. We all know what real billionaires look like. They look like Donald Trump. Anyhoo, I plowed on, containing my reservations as best I could. Anastasia goes back to her life after the interview; studying for finals, working part time at a hardware store and having incredibly inane conversations with her hot and much more experienced roommate Kate. And wouldn't you know it, Christian Grey starts stalking her. First he shows up at her hardware store and buys duct tape and ligature and all sorts of things that should send up red flags or possibly even get him a spot on a terrorist watch list. Before he leaves the hardware store, Christian works up the nerve to ask Anastasia on a date. That night, while Anastasia is out with her roommate and a male friend Jose, who clearly has the hots for her, Christian just shows up at the bar and takes her to a hotel and has sex with her. The weird part about “Fifty Shades,” the sex scenes are boring. They really are. It sounds like she's describing a game of twister, in slow motion. And she keeps talking about how “hot” Christian looks. Long story short, Christian, though wildly successful, has a dark past. He was adopted by his upper crust parents, after the death of his crack whore mother, when he was four. We also get some strong hints that an evil pimp may have done some unsavory things to Christian and his crack whore mother. And, Christian was seduced by the wife of a family friend when he was fifteen and introduced to the hoary netherworld of sadomasochism. Another one of those books! It turns out Christian has never had a real relationship with a woman. Just the predatory freak fest with the older woman, whom Anastasia refers to as “Mrs. Robinson,” (again with the creativity!) and in recent years, a series of sixteen girls who signed contracts as “Submissives” to Christian's “Dominant.” apparently, “Mrs. Robinson” had tutored Christian on an array of activities and tools. So Christian wants to sign Anastasia to be his latest submissive. But after seeing Christian's huge and well equipped torture chamber, Anastasia is not sure what to do. I mean, a minute ago she was a college senior and virgin and now some billionaire guy wants to sign her to a contract to be a sex slave... but he's SOOO cute! And rich! I mean he's got a helicopter and a yacht and a private jet... and he's so freakin' hot! What's a girl to do? So she strings him along and refuses to sign the contract. And she makes him do normal stuff and lets her touch him, which apparently he has a problem with. (see crack whore mother.) By the way, Christian invariably refers to his mother as “the crack whore,” so don't come bitching to me. At this point the book settles in to a rhythm of long tedious sex scenes, broken up by long tedious conversations between Christian and Anastasia, in which he tries to get her to sign her damn slave contract, and she tries to get him to be a normal boyfriend. Okay, a normal boyfriend with a more than passing fancy for butt plugs. The author is good at stringing the reader along with just enough tidbits about Christian's past to keep us guessing. The reader actually finds oneself skimming through lurid sex scenes about riding crops and spankings and thinking “I wonder if we're ever going to find out about those burn marks on Christian's back?” We don't! In fact, in all three books it is bitterly disappointing how little payoff the reader gets compared to all the shit this woman dangles in our faces. I found myself hoping for the Manson Family to show up and pay Christian and Anastasia a visit. But then, if there were no books like this, then there could be no classics. The next time I'm reading “Catcher In The Rye” I will have a giant turd to compare it to. My safe phrase, “No more f*cking Fifty Shades books!”
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