May 23, 2012

Shades of Grey: Book Reviews

Shades of Grey I recently finished the BDSM/erotica/romantica trilogy. It's been called "mommy porn" by many, though that categorization makes me bristle. I don't have a problem with women enjoying their sexuality or however they choose to express it. While I personally don't find the particular kink appealing, I have no issue with the fact that others do. Different strokes for different folks. Or in the case of BDSM, different strikes? But truthfully, the fact that I read the entire series makes me bristle a little, because I found it distasteful from the first book. Yet I kept reading the entire trilogy, looking for a clue to the massive appeal of the series.

I have to tell you, it's not a prude thing why I didn't care for it. I can deal with the gratuitous sex scenes. I think they became rather diluted due to overkill, but all that aside, it wasn't the sex that bothered me. Write about sex all you want, it's why Anais Nin and Henry Miller are considered icons in the genre. Great authors can pen great erotic scenes and sex is an essential part of humanity. It pleases me to know that erotic writing is being accepted into mainstream literature a bit more easily.

All that aside, I didn't care for the Shades of Grey series. The underlying message suggests that breaking the rules is acceptable if you're filthy rich. Stalking is cool if the guy is wealthy. In fact, it's desirable and makes the woman feel wanted. Talking a woman into doing something she didn't want to do is okay if you reward her decision with expensive gifts. I found the whole premise beyond disturbing for several reasons. For those of you familiar with the story, take a little journey with me, please.

Suppose the guy was a homeless vagabond. He searched out where the object of his obsession worked. He went to her place of employment where he bought rope and ties and masking tape all the while thinking how delightful it would be to tie her up and keep her in his secret play space, while he flogged and did with her as he pleased. Still as romantic or sexy once you strip away the fancy clothes and palatial surroundings?

That simple shift makes all the difference, doesn't it? The story goes from being romantic to being disturbing. While the tale had hints of the hit movie Pretty Woman in it, with the fun shopping, the fancy surroundings, and the complete disregard for any sort of budget, the cost seems to be rather high, even if not in currency. The suggestion that rules of decency can be ignored if  you purchase the woman designer clothing and shoes cheapens the whole idea of romance and honestly, even lust. Sex becomes nothing more than a commodity. And while sex sells, I hate the thought that women would sell out.

A rose by any other shade, still is a dingy grey.


  1. so - I heard about it just from a "stand" at a book shop. Picked it up thinking it might be tolerable. Read EXACTLY one chapter. And returned it the next day.

    It was pap. Pure and unadulterated bored housewife who gained her "edge" from playing in an on-line message board. And - although I did not know that before I picked up the book - the press maelstrom hit - and I found some very interesting bits that confirmed my initial suspicious.

    A fifty-something "Twihard" fan who started the story on their message boards. Now - Twilight has it's place - it's pure faerie tale toned "helpless" female needing to be rescued and saved by having a boyfriend. But to be 50 something and not see that - or furthermore to engage in that as a valid "literary" source is just the epitome of what I dislike most.

    We can then run into the myriad of points you brought up: that questionable behaviour and breaking rules is perfectly acceptable IF you are both well off and have someone who never expects more from you than dinner on the table.
    Sure, we can all fantasize about the "what I could/should/daren't do" in many situations .. and I can see where writing it would be a catharsis of sorts. But, like the overexposure to any one thing; be it sex, swearing, even the news: one tends to develop some immunity to both the issue and the shock value.

    Not to mention, poorly written rather dry and Ikea-type directions manual. I've always been a fan of hinting at rather than tab A into slot B descriptive, a way to draw in a reader and leave more for the imagination that SHOULD be engaged in reading a novel. And there was none of that there - but wondering just why someone would actually expend the money on the book.

  2. You know I've been trying to read this book, but I can't get beyond the first couple of chapters. It's not that I object to it; I just find it incredibly dull. I'm sure I'd need to get much further along to actually find it objectionable...


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