The free sample ended before the good parts — there are good parts, right? — but I was done reading in any case. E.L. James lost me with the name “Anastasia Steele” and the fact that the character opens the trilogy by fussing with her hair and drooling useless adverbs, and, finally, doing it all in the present tense. I really hate that. You are there! I’m fussing with my hair right now! Never mind the lag time implicit in the publishing process!
I’ve read some reviews and commentary on this Fifty Shades phenomenon and I think I can conclude two things: (A) women don’t really want to be sexually degraded, forget all that, and (B) a surprising number do like reading about it. Most critics believe this is all about women’s ascendance in the workplace, which somehow allows them to safely fantasize about light S&M and safely overlook bad writing. I don’t believe any of it. I just think women like dirty books as much as men, as long as nobody has to know about it and as long as they’re written in a way that appeals to feminine sensibilities.
By “feminine sensibilities,” I mean a lot of boring parts to set off the salacious ones. A lot of inner (and inane) dialogue that does nothing to advance the story, a lot of lifted eyebrows and fraught expressions described in painful detail: “dark eyes crinkling at the corners.” That kind of thing.
OK, I’m not the target audience. The target audience would be the 10 or 12 million married women between 30 and 50 who possess e-readers like the NOOK® Simple Touch, which keeps judgmental swine like me from seeing what they’re reading. As Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus points out, Fifty Shades sold in three months what Girl With the Dragon Tattoo sold in three years. But you won’t find a lot of copies on yard-sale tables next year, because most are on e-readers.
Anyway, my short review of the first sixty pages of Fifty Shades: It sucks, but I really wish I’d written it.