Will Fifty Shades ever fade away?


I actually thought this topic had grown stale, but now Katie has been running promos for her Monday show, featuring an interview with E.L. James, author of the popular Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy.

At the risk of suffering the same fate as Elaine Benes: shunned by her girlfriends, her boyfriend and a waitress at Monk’s, when she said “The English Patient sucks!” I am going to go ahead and say:

I don’t get it.

When it comes to reading, my favorite genre is historical fiction. Not because I’m a smarty-pants, but because a great story can trick me into a refresher of all the history lessons that may not have had my full attention the first time around.

However, during Summer I mostly read poolside. At one time, People Magazine was the perfect reading material for this.  I haven’t had a subscription in years because I hardly know any of the faces on the pages of the magazine. Surely these punks aren’t actually stars….are they? Clearly, my knowledge of Pop culture is not what it used to be.

The next best reading material for working on a tan is mindless fiction, the junk food of literature. I admit I was late to the Fifty Shades party. I only became aware of it when my favorite morning show featured a segment on it. I figured I should read the trilogy  in my effort to stay current on Pop Culture.

In early June, I grabbed my Kindle and my pool float. I happened to be playing phone tag with a girlfriend that day. I left her a message saying, “Call me back. I’ll just be floating in the pool, but if I don’t answer, it’s because I’m “tied up” with Christian Grey.” When she returned my call she told me she had read the books in the trilogy when they first hit the shelves. We were in a book club together and she had never mentioned this!

I started reading. I found James’s writing style and British vernacular awkward and not always easy to read. (I know, I know, four blog posts in and suddenly I’m a literary critic) The repetition of certain phrases (among, ahem… other things) was annoying. I kept thinking, here we go again…..he places his forefinger and thumb on her chin to tilt her head up to meet his gaze. My focus on the repetition was distracting me.  I couldn’t get lost in the story, or maybe I just needed there to be more to the story.

Now a real shocker: I didn’t even think the first book was that shocking. It was 26 chapters of cat and mouse: Would she sign the contract, or wouldn’t she?

In Mid-June, in the Midwest, in the middle of the night, while staying with the hilarious sister,  I finished the book. The problem was, the story wasn’t finished.  There I was, still on West Coast time and wide-awake. Then, I did it:  I downloaded the second book in the trilogy. What a sucker.

On TV, middle-aged women are batting their eyes, fanning themselves and gushing about the book. In real life, the middle-aged women I know are reacting differently. One friend called me after reading the first book and said she didn’t get the fuss. She said she simply didn’t like pain, so she couldn’t relate. A few other middle-aged friends rolled their eyes saying they’d like to smack Christian, and tell him to jump off a cliff.

Another friend, an avid E-reader, didn’t want to risk any of her children discovering it on her Kindle. Instead, she bought a hard copy and hid it in her nightstand, third drawer down. Nope, no kids will EVER snoop there.

Then, sitting in the Atlanta airport one afternoon, I noticed the college-aged girl sitting across from me was openly reading Fifty Shades Darker. She didn’t even bother to hide it discreetly in a USA Today! She was in her own little Fifty and Ana world, just giggling and shaking her head. Apparently to her, it was a real page-turner.

Maybe without bias of middle-aged independence, practicality and realism (or cynicism), the book reads differently.

Here it is, mid-September and I’m barely halfway through the second book in the series, Fifty Shades Darker.  I realize there may be more to the story, but I still just don’t get it. Perhaps I should hold off on my commentary until I have finished the series, and am fully informed. Who am I kidding? This will never happen, partly because autumn is upon us, and I’m reading at bedtime.

I have to be honest, to me a full 8 hours of shut-eye or even 40 winks totally trumps Fifty Shades.

Not finishing the rest of the trilogy has an upside:  When the movie is released, I won’t be disappointed if it doesn’t measure up to the books!

Speaking of the movie version, some women are hoping Ryan Gosling will be cast in the role of Christian Grey. Wait, it might be Ryan Reynolds. I can’t keep them straight. They’re the modern version of the old Robert DeNiro/Al Pacino and late 90’s Dylan McDermott/Dermott Mulroney confusion.

I’ve heard other women think some actor named Matt Bomer should play the part. I have absolutely no idea who he is. Maybe I should Google him.

Or maybe he’s featured in the current issue of People Magazine.


13 responses »

  1. I have to say that I refuse to read it, even for the entertainment factor. I heard it is so poorly written it’s hard to get through. I wouldn’t want my kids finding that book either. The Harold Robbins books I used to steal probably pale in comparison. I don’t know who anyone is in People Magazine either!


  2. Anne-I did the same thing! Took me 3 days for the first 11/2 books and 3 weeks for second 1 1/2 books. I just finished “Killing Lincoln” and am wayyyy more impressed!


  3. Bravo Anne. My literary advisor did not enjoy the series much, Mary Kay, so I did not even attempt. Summer is my only time to read so little time for poor picks. Great writing Anne, maybe I’ll read your book next summer or even the next!


  4. This blog entry reminds me of a time back in 1993. I was in 7th grade and was out to visit you in HB. We were on the PCH and “I wanna sex you up” came on the radio. You were singing along and knew every word! My little 13 year old eyes were as big as saucers! My mom would have immediately changed the station but not my cool Aunt Annie! Now THAT was risqué!


  5. Thank you, you read my mind, Anne! I just wanted the poor woman to use a thesaurus! And it took me about three chapters to equate it to the Twilight series – character by character. Give me a story with some (original) meat!

    As for the casting, I imagined Alexander Skarsgard (aka Eric Northman on “True Blood”) almost immediately – no offense Ryan Gosling. But, I never made it through the third book. I had a friend fill me in on how it all wrapped up (predictably) neat and tidy.


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