Wednesday, August 1, 2012

50 Shades of Hoax?

Yesterday I read an article announcing the achievement of a seven figure deal for an author who wrote a series based on fan fiction based on Twilight and no, it wasn't E.L. James. Just take a moment to contemplate that sentence.
When I linked the article to my Facebook page I felt an instant pang of guilt because for as long and as loudly as I have been decrying 50 Shades of Grey, it wasn't from personal experience. I never read the book. It was my irritation at how everyone and their mother (that is as close to literal as possible without actually being literal. If that does not make sense, I apologize but I am no E.L. James) not only read that book but they passionately loved it. My Goodreads page is rife with four and five star reviews for this book and I am instantly annoyed, knowing with my trusted prejudice that it would be contrary to everything I believe literature should be. I mean honestly, how COULD a novel based on fan fiction be even remotely good?
Well, I did feel a bit of a hypocrite for not having read it so I borrowed a Kindle from my workplace which, coincidentally has the whole series uploaded. I took that as a sign, a throwing down of the gauntlet on the part of fan fiction aficionados everywhere to put up or shut up.


I'm on page 76 of the book and I am kind of grappling. Not with my opinion of the book, of that I am certain. I am grappling instead with whether or not it would be uncalled for hyperbole to write here in this blog that this book is so badly written that it makes me want to kill myself. Too much? How about this? This book is so badly written that I have convinced myself that it is a large hoax perpetrated by everyone in my life because I am now convinced that I live a Truman Show type of existence and that for April Fools Day everyone pretended to both enjoy and be turned on by this book. Only the fact that the book has as many detractors as it does rabid fans is a clue to the continued existence of my sanity.

I admit that one of my favorite past times (despite my desire to let go of irony saturation, as highlighted in my last post) is to watch/read/listen to things with irony. And I wasn't ever really giving FSOG (good lord.) a real fighting chance. I was predisposed to disliking it. I both admit and acknowledge this. However, I hadn't counted on two things: 1) That it would be SO easy to find reasons to dislike the book and 2) That I would HATE the book.

I don't want to rant about specifics or review it here. People have done it far better than I ever could. To wit: one of the funniest reviews, complete with gifs. But I would like to say that among all the many and varied issues I have with the book, the biggest is how deeply and disturbingly anti-feminist it is and how that very fact translates into fantasy for so many readers. I am profoundly disturbed. I'm also reminded of the film Pretty Woman and how that story also seemed a clear cut anti-feminist tale that strangely translated into the ultimate fantasy for women everywhere. Disturb-o-rama.

I say these things not even having finished it. Lambaste me if necessary, though I could argue that 76 pages is more than enough to get a feel for the tone of the book and honestly, if you are a writer and have not established a character yet by then, well, you are hopeless. (I am in fact intending on finishing this first book and I'll pick up the Cliff's Notes for the rest because I do not enjoy leaving my brain outside in the arid desert of terrible books for too long.) Yet, I say them with certainty. However, when I think of all the books that I hold dear to my heart or even the books that set me alight with raging hatred, I can say the same thing about both types: they took me outside of myself and my life and transported me to an entirely new way of thinking, be it lovingly and with grace or hatefully and with incompetence. On my more generous days, I will allow that this book did that as well. I think I might need a moment, or a decade to get that generous.

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