“There was a lady reading this on the train back from work. I couldn't help but comment to her, "The paper version? That's a bit brazen...I thought this was secret Kindle phenomenon?" She laughed. Moments later she flirtily replied, "I couldn't find the hard back." Stressing the word 'hard'. That made me gulp and suddenly I realised she had gained all the power with that one reply. As we approached the tunnel at Rossio, I noticed I was aroused and was feeling profusely hot. Obscuring my bulge with my back pack, I made for the on-train toilet. The automatic door took an eternity to open. I stepped inside. As I turned to close the door, I drew breath as I realised I had been followed to the toilet by the lady reading the dirty book, and what's more there was another three ladies clutching their Kindles, jostling for a feel of my bulging trousers...”
Do you think I’ve got what it takes to be an erotic writer...? Maybe I should quit my day-job.
Erotic fiction is not a new discovery but "Fifty Shades of Grey" has proven that it has a huge potential audience, I have no doubt there will be a load of erotic novels with writers and publishers looking to cash in. And why not? Will it last? A risk is that a load of derivative, half assed books gradually kill mainstream desire for the genre stone dead- and I am sure there will be quite a few hastily put together mediocrity in the next few months. But other genres survive bad books so why not this one? We might even get a masterpiece or two. Also if we are going to consume and discuss erotica as well as be more open about sex we should refrain from moral indignation when it comes to sexual fantasy. Otherwise people will cower and pretend that they have none. Or express only the most vanilla.
I don't have a problem with Shades, no matter how pedestrian and mediocre it as as a piece of art. What I do have a problem with is a publisher that gives classics a 'sex' make over simply out of a cynical ploy to make money. Apart from the cultural vandalism of such actions the worst aspect of this kind of philistine book trashing is that it totally ruins the original context of the books' characters - and what they represent. Worse, it gives new readers and a new generation the wrong impression of how people lived and acted then. Or were allowed to act. If Jane Eyre is turned into a sex siren discovering the joys of rumpy with Mr Rochester it makes a travesty of what her character represented in those repressed times. In reality had Ms Eyre acted like a modern day gal she would have been ostracised by society and had a very different life than the one the author intended. Just what is the difference between these tacky book makeovers and that of colourising classic black and white movies or re-editing them because knuckle head distributors think today's audiences are too stupid and lacking the faculties to be able to appreciate the original works?
Bottom-line: Why the overextended discourse? Guys enjoy porn, women enjoy erotic novels. Sex is one of, if not THE greatest experiences in life. We shouldn't be ashamed of loving sex. There are ways to express ourselves, masturbation to literature and other media being a prominent one. So "Fifty Shades of Grey" is poorly written, when you're feeling libidinous, even the most crass and rudimentary narrative will be sexy (provided you have a reasonably good imagination). The author is brilliant and completely deserves the several houses she will no doubt be able to buy out of the royalties and movie deal - not to mention the speaking tour for witless suburban S&M casualties who just resist this stuff (*cue some uptight postmodern academic telling us how very empowering it is*). Seriously: Women do not love "Fifty Shades Of Grey". Idiots love "Fifty Shades Of Grey", some of whom happen to be women. Please do not turn this into a "women's issue" for God's sake. It is a bad writing issue. We could argue endlessly about the distinction between high and low art, about the conflict between the audience and the auteur or about the subjectivity of taste. All of that has its place but none of it should hinder us from describing this book as a pile of unmitigated shite. This should not become the subject matter for discussions about standpoint epistemology. It belongs in the bargain bin along with copies of "My Life (Part 3)" by John T. Footballer.
NB: It would interesting to get a view from someone from the BDSM community; they are probably less than happy about the portrayal of the 'relationship'. A female friend said that Dulux's colour card of greys was more interesting than the book which she described as mummy porn. She also said (I'm translating from Portuguese into English): "The heroine flushes more often than a row of public toilets, and I'm surprised she has any lower lip left after all that biting..." LMAO!!!