I’m always intrigued by which books tap into the zeitgeist and light things up like a Christmas tree [let’s be honest, part of the intrigue comes from the fact that I had no idea people were still reading books]; mainly, what literary subject matters take hold of society and don't let go till the film rights are sold. In the past few years, we’ve had vampires, kids killing kids, another look at the family dynamic thanks to Franzen...the list is long, but I don't have time to digress. And now of course, there is "Fifty Shades of Porn"…I’m sorry, I meant Grey. I suppose it’s no surprise that this latest fictional craze is sex driven – and not just ‘vanilla’ sex as Mr. Grey likes to say, but 'welcome to my Pain Room, I’m going to whip you into submission sex'. We're not in Harlequin Romance territory anymore, Toto.
Now, before I launch into what I find so fascinating about this book, let’s be honest, the writing is utter crap. Sorry, I don’t mince my words by the time I get to Friday. So, I certainly do not think this book is garnering a following because of it’s prose. In fact, if the author mentioned her protagonist’s 'inner goddess' one more time, or her antagonist’s crisp white shirts (which she does so with utter tedium) I was going to scream. But let’s give her some credit, the woman has a surefire hit on her hands and stands to make millions (sadly talent is a not a prerequisite).
I suppose what intrigues me more is that people everywhere, male and female are lapping up this book like a pack of malnourished St. Bernards. It’s astonishing really, especially in Christian America where sex and the discussion thereof is frowned upon. I read one interview where a man in his fifties called it the greatest love story of all times. I about choked on my tongue at that quotation, purely because, this is a book about a submissive and her Dominant. It’s not exactly Romeo and Juliet operating on an equal playing field here. Yeah, so he’s an uber hot (dressed in white shirts of course), gazillionaire with his own private jet, but the man still wants to cuff up his beloved in his Pain room and show her who’s boss....hmm, a white man with money that wants to dominate those weaker than himself. No wonder society likes this book – I’m thinking it’s a real hit on Wall Street.
What puzzles me more however is that so many women like this book and think Christian Grey is the second coming of Christ. Well, it doesn’t exactly puzzle me, it just confirms what I’ve always thought: women like to fix things - especially billionaires with large spending habits. Christian needs some major fixing (yes I’m calling you by your first name, Sir, what are you going to do about it tough guy?!) and I’m sure every woman out there secretly thinks that if she got a hold of him, he’d face those demons in no time. The other inescapable truth is that people simply like to read about sex: vanilla sex, sex in a swing, sex in an elevator with a demonized billionaire. Sex is sex, and Christian Grey certainly makes one think that he knows what he’s doing (truth be told, by the 300th sex scene I was wishing they would just call it a day and go play mini golf, but that’s me).
The other matter at hand may just be that most women, deep down inside want to be dominated by men. Maybe just a little bit. Not in the kitchen of course...or when it comes to our careers, shopping, our television watching habits, dress sense, or overall lives...but in the bedroom, sure we'll give you that one if ask really nicely, wear a crisp white shirt, and promise that you're not going to tie us up, make us watch football and leave us there until the following weekend.
So...if you haven’t picked up this latest tome, be forewarned, it’s not reading for your grandmother or the King (although he does like to carry it around the house and pretend to read aloud from it). And if you’re like me, you may spend most of the book not only thinking that you could never let a man tell you what to do (me, submissive? I don’t think so), but you can’t wait until little Ms. Submissive turns the S&M table and brings the big bad heat to Mr. White Shirts in his Pain Room. Take that, Sir, and like it.