'50 Shades of Grey': Just How Smutty Is It?

Plenty, but it's also unintentionally humorous and so badly written it hurts (and not in a good way).

In keeping with the number theme in the title, here's what you need to know before buying "50 Shades of Grey."

Number of times the protagonist, Anastasia Steele, says "Crap" or "Holy Crap": 86

Number of times Anastasia refers to her lover Christian Grey and his moves as "hot" or "freaking hot": 37

Number of times a specific part of the female anatomy is referred to as "down there": 6

If fine writing is like bittersweet truffles, this book is like a wad of Gummi Bears stuck to your back teeth. To use another food metaphor — and I'm not sure this author knows what a metaphor is — it's the literary equivalent of eating Sugar Smacks for dinner.

Author E.L. James gives us the first-person perspective of a naive 21-year-old college graduate who is also — wait for it — a virgin who has never really been kissed. She is thrown into the presence of a young and extremely handsome billionaire who is powerfully attracted to her but has a dark secret life that involves riding crops, rope and something he calls "The Red Room of Pain."

Substitute vampire for billionaire (some advice to the author: billionaires generally look more like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett than Ryan Gosling) and we're right about where "Twilight" begins. It's no surprise that began as fan fiction for that other nonsensical best-selling series.

Here's a little taste of James' clipped writing style:

"Why won't he look at me. Perhaps he's changed his mind? A wave of unease washes over me. Perhaps walking out on him last night was the end for him, too. He's bored of waiting for me to make up my mind. Oh no, I could have completely blown it. I remember his email last night. Maybe he's mad that I haven't replied."

The world of Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey is as believable as a fairy tale, which apparently appeals to a great many people since the book is selling faster than condoms on spring break. Anastasia keeps asking herself why she'd even consider seeing a man who wants her to sign a written contract including her willingness to be suspended from the ceiling, but somehow talks herself into more and more encounters. Her learning curve in certain departments is steep, to say the least.

As for the sex scenes, they're frequent, explicit, and full of breathy descriptions of how "hot" bondage and spanking can be. If that's all you're after, go ahead and plunk down the money. You won't be disappointed and you'll have two money-printing sequels already waiting for you.

But there is most certainly better written and less ridiculous erotica or even "mommy porn," as this has been called, out there. This is one fad you can excuse yourself from joining, unless you're looking for a good laugh.

Author E.L. James will be appearing in Connecticut at an event in New Haven sponsored by Madison's R.J. Julia Booksellers on May 2. Tickets are $25, which includes $5 toward the purchase of a book. For reservations, call 203-245-3959 or visit R.J. Julia's website.

jess October 05, 2012 at 04:02 AM
I was thinking can't be v or cl. seeing as the author has written it in the book in a different part and after that part
neo malahlela October 22, 2012 at 01:50 PM
wow! people say the book is unrealistic...is that not the point of fiction?? I mean no one that read Harry Potter believes in wizards and all that. Relax and don't be so darn uptight! I mean we all know that it's highly unlikely that a woman orgasms everytime she has sex or has sex 5 times a day everyday and it's great each time but it's FICTION! I'm not American so the lack of accuracy regarding American character is a foreign concept so I am not bothered...and again with the sex, there are times when they only have sex once, maybe twice, I don't think that's irregular at all and if you do then your sex life needs polishing. I am 22 so I can sort of relate to Ana as far as her innocence and inexperience, there is growth with both her and Christian. Lastly, no I did not mistake the abuse for romance and I'm not going Christian Grey hunting either, my perception was of a young woman in love trying to make sense of it all...with a really extreme storyline. Please trust the readers to be smart enough to get the right ideas from the book and RELAX! Consider that she may not have been targeting the avid reader, she is an inexperienced writer, maybe a target was the ordinary person who doesn't do heavy reading. I think James did a good job for someone who has never written a book yet produced 3 books, totalling over 500 pages, that's a result of hard work and inspiration.
neo malahlela October 22, 2012 at 04:57 PM
Oh and it's not meant to be a bdsm novel I think, it's not about a couple in a bdsm lifestyle but rather a man who was PREVIOUSLY in a bdsm lifestyle but had to adjust his lifestyle for a girl who was not accustomed to that lifestyle thus the vanilla
Janell Meyer November 04, 2012 at 02:52 AM
"Anything For Georgetown And Other Stories" is erotic fiction with a focus on the fetishes of spanking and tickling. Monica is a spoiled Catholic schoolgirl with wealthy, successful parents. Despite her background, she hosts stripping parties for the boys of St. Veronica's. She also bullies other students. She is a bit of an enigma at her school. The new guidance counselor finds out about her background, and offers her a deal: give up her racy past, and agree to be punished "his" way, and he will help her get into Georgetown University, her first choice college. However, the deal they strike becomes unbearable. Does Monica get into Georgetown? The other three stories in the collection focus on a woman who places a personal ad to jump start her sex life. Rebecca, who is almost a 40-year-old virgin, finally knows what she wants. But will she find a man to satisfy her, as well as one she can trust enough to fall in love with? The ebook is available on Smashwords.com. (Please deactivate the adult filter.) The print book is available for only $7 (excluding shipping and handling) through November on Lulu.com.
English Major July 07, 2013 at 07:56 AM
50 Shades of Grey is a horrible book and here's why http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlyVLLq4G4U


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