From the Never-Ending Stack of Books—Three Sizzlers

As I am by no means a trendsetter, I was about ten years late getting to the Shades of Gray series. Maybe it’s just that books come into our lives (like teachers) when the student is ready. Since I’ve been writing more erotica lately, it seemed time to tackle these. And I’m so glad I did. What a treat these have been the last month. E L James brought so much to the erotica game—and sustained my interest through the three thick volumes. No wonder she took the book world by storm.

The story is essentially a modern-day fairy tale with lots of “kinky fuckery.” Ms. Anasastia Steele meets Mr. Christian Grey. She’s a beautiful, innocent virgin with a newly minted bachelor’s degree setting out in the world; he’s a phenomenally wealthy businessman, an exceedingly handsome older man of several years with a long history of sexual dominance. Then the twain meet. He sweeps her off her feet (literally) and introduces her to the world of bondage in his well-appointed “playroom,” having relieved her of her virginity.  There’s much give and take because Ana just doesn’t roll over and take what he hands out to his submissives. He’s smitten. They fall in love. She moves in. They get married and by volume three a baby arrives for their happily-ever-after.

I must commend James for keeping the plot moving, providing a great deal of psychological insights into both their lives from childhood into adulthood. The sex never seems gratuitous; it happens in context. Whether in the playroom, bedroom, ballroom or office, lush details enrich the books—scenery, costumes, gestures, food and wines, lovemaking, character descriptions. I was constantly surprised at how much I liked the two lovers, and in fact, grew quite fond of them. James makes the story come to life. No wonder the trilogy made it into film—each installment quite true to the novels (I watched all three).

The flaws? A couple. The most egregious flaw was James’s portrayal of the female orgasm. For the most part, totally unrealistic. It is very, very rare for a woman to achieve orgasm merely by penetration. Our sexual apparatus isn’t designed that way. Ana came (time and time again) far too easily, far too many times. Less troublesome but nonetheless annoying were James’ writerly tics. Too often Ana is depicted demurely staring up at Christian through her eyelashes, for one. Same with Christian’s “sly smile.” There are several other similar tics, all overused by a long shot.

But that’s pretty small in the scheme of things. The books surprised me with their depth. And the plot and sex scenes kept me turning the pages—more than 1,500 of them! 

It also occurs to me that Shades of Grey had a tremendous sociological impact. Here for the first time was a run-away The New York Times bestseller that racked up more than 165 million copies, touching the lives of all those readers with a story that’s anything but “vanilla” sex—ye olde missionary position and nothing but. E L James brought a love story richly flavored with bondage and dominance/submission to the masses for the first time. And she kept at it because she’d untapped a vast market for ravenous for her writing.

What next? I’m starting the companion trilogy, told from Christian’s point of view. They promise to be as much fun!

~~~ 

P.S. Just for kicks, you might want to take a peek at this trio of clips of the highly amusing parody of James’s milestone trilogy:

4 thoughts on “From the Never-Ending Stack of Books—Three Sizzlers

  1. Seriously? I remember the FSOG craze and read book one to see why all the fuss. The writing may best be described as unimaginative drivel— so bad that I recall laughing nearly throughout the read. The author even uses the word “damp” to describe her heroine’s physical response to sexual arousal. Damp?

    The “sex” is tame at best—calling it “vanilla” would be kind, “shaved ice” being closer to the mark. The heroine was never even anally penetrated! Instead, as a lame nod to how he should have taken her there right from the go, the hero briefly shows his paramour an anal intruder and then quickly dismisses going “in there” as something to be considered much later in the relationship. “Jees!”

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  2. I agree, Steve. I wasn’t impressed at all and found that even young women (including my daughter in law) found it “easy to yawn to”. As far as internal orgasms, Karla, it is my primary reason for being on top. I, sadly, have only had 4 multiples but they were delicious! Twas a teacher who taught me! Those were some very good years! xoxo

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    1. Patti sis, I am just now finishing the first in James’s second trilogy. Still gripped as silly as I know it is. The serious part is its place in the arc of female-written erotica since the Sappho, certainly in the fore since the mid-1800s. I celebrate her success. A welcome relief from the rigors of poetry. I have a rabbit long unused I need to fiddle with to get the gspot mojo amped. On top. FOR SURE. Tee hee.

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