Friday, May 11, 2012

Fifty Shades of Terrible Writing

Yo yo yo, what it do what it do. This is your boy Perspicacious P aka the Vanilla Thrilla aka White Falcon aka White Philosoraptor Rex. It’s that moment you’ve been waiting for, my official review of Fifty Shades of Grey, or as it should be known, Fifty Shades of Shitty Writing. I actually finished it a few weeks ago, but it was such a staggering work of breathtaking genius I had to sit with it and marinate on its deeper meanings before I could write intelligent criticism.

Either that, or I’m lazy and the book kinda sucked and I didn’t want to revisit it.

But enough of that, let’s get to the review.

Fifty Shades of Grey has become a word-of-mouth phenomenon, at least according to the New York Times and my Facebook feed. It is supposedly filled with debauched sex acts and moral depravity not seen since the downfall of ancient Rome.

After reading it, however, I have to say that your average Dan Savage column will have 10x the fucked up sex shit than is contained in this book. Not that I really dabble in the world of weird sex (or sex at all, LOL….argh), but this was all pretty tame stuff. I guess for white women of a certain age and status this may pass as pretty racy, but for most people it reads like a bad Skinemax movie, probably one of the ones that didn’t have Shannon Tweed in it. 

Not that I ever watched those.

ANYWAY, basically the dude had S+M tendencies and the chick was totally freaked by it. That was the entire plot. All of it.

“Oh, he likes to spank and use whips, HOW NOVEL!!!”

(To demonstrate how lame this was, there wasn’t a donkey punch anywhere in the book! If there aren’t any donkey punches, how racy can this really be? Would a Houdini have killed the author?)

More lameness: There was no fucking until like page 110!!!

Up until then, we were treated to the INSANELY ANNOYING internal dialogue of a hot, neurotic college student. Because that’s exactly what I want out of a trashy novel. Look, if I want neurotic thoughts, I can just tune into my own brain, thanks. Please get to the fucking. Isn’t that the first rule of fiction writing? “Get to the fucking first?”

The writing itself was pretty terrible. I have never seen the word ‘impassive’ used so many times. The guy had an ‘impassive’ look on his face. She had an ‘impassive’ smile. He fucked her in an ‘impassive’ manner. It appeared every other page, literally. I hope the author has at least bought a thesaurus with her newfound riches.

Another annoying thing is that the woman in the book called her vagina her ‘sex’. Has any woman ever referred to her vagina as her ‘sex’? How fucking corny is that shit? I can assure you that when George Michael sang "I Want Your Sex", he wasn't talking about vaginas. 

I wonder if she was all “Fuck me in my sex” and the guy all, “Huh? What does that even mean?” Well, I guess at that stage the guy would agree to anything she says just to get in her pants, but you get my larger point.

Not everything was bad. A good chunk of the book, like 20 percent, was made up of emails between the lovers. They took up a lot of the page and you could go through 8 pages of emails in about the time it took to read one normal page. So there was that.

That said, I didn’t love that there was a contract in the middle of the book that went on for five pages. And it wasn’t even racy. It wasn’t stuff like “You can’t fuck me in the ass with a broomstick” but stuff like “the dominated will attend the gym three times a week”, etc etc. If I wanted to read fine print, I would actually look at my credit card or school loan bills. And what good would that do?

I think it even said something like she couldn’t masturbate, but in a way more dry, lawyerly way. What kind of racy novel doesn’t allow self-pleasure? WACK.

There were also some really weird turns of phrase. The chick also kept referring to her post-coitus coif as ‘just fucked hair”. To check her email she would “fire up her email program”. Has anyone ever said that to check their email? Turning on her laptop was “firing up her mean machine.”

I think the author is British and the story takes place in the US, so I wonder if that’s why some of the language was so awkward. Cell phones were called ‘mobiles’. People would ‘phone’ each other. Her roommate talked about her ‘walking boots’. Americans, at least the ones I know, don’t talk like that.

The one act that did disgust me was that the chick used the dude’s toothbrush without telling him, which is a huge violation of trust, not to mention hygiene. Who the fuck does that? What if her gums bleed and she got it all over his toothbrush? Is that sanitary at all? The guy made a point of having safe sex, the least she could do is not bleed all over his toothbrush.

Also, the girl listened to Snow Patrol on her run. Would anyone ever listen to Snow Patrol on a run? Wouldn’t that just stop you in your tracks and make you want to stop living? Isn’t that the least motivational thing you could do? It’s like bizarro “Eye of the Tiger”.

I hated the characters so much that I kept hoping one of them would die, but I’m told it’s a trilogy, so if someone dies I have to read 1000 pages more of shit like this to find out, and even then they may both live. I think I would rather slam a car door on my head repeatedly for 10 hours than read another book in this series.

Final verdict: the story sucked, the writing was bad and there was hardly any fucking. I think they had sex 10 times in 500 pages, which is two fucks every 100 pages. Not the golden ratio by any measure. I guess maybe I can see why affluent 50-year-old white ladies may find this racy and interesting, but anyone with an imagination or an IQ over 80 will find this a tough slog.

This is like the movie Secretary with Maggie Gyllenhaal, except if Secretary was a really shitty book.

Now excuse me while I return to some Skinemax classics.


  1. oh my god p i could not love this post any more than i do! of course, i've read all three books but agree with you on every.single.point. i was compelled to read them (my mom actually wanted me to and bought them for me!) but i thought the writing was terrible. i hated the "inner goddess" shit (drove me crazy) and the fact that they referred to her ass as her BEHIND. really, behind?

  2. please read book 2 and then post a review! I was laughing my "behind" off while reading this!

  3. Excellent review. I'd read this book, but they banned it in Florida.