Sweaty Foot Sex and Gollum’s Revenge: Chapter 8 of EL James’s “Grey”

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So after a brief hiatus I’m back with more soul-crushing trash for you to feast on. If you recall from the last post, Christian is contemplative and thoughtful about Ana and poor people and Africa — but mostly Ana.

It’s after one in the morning when I go to bed. Staring at the ceiling, I’m tired, relaxed, but also excited, anticipating what the week will bring. I hope to have a new project: Miss Anastasia Steele.

Which is handy, because you seem to have a lot of free time in-between racist, condescending, and vague charitable work; and that company you own but never spend any time working at.

On that note, because he’s a billionaire CEO with so much free time, he goes for a morning run where the “sun’s rays are shimmering through the high-rise buildings” because Byron Grey is back to romance you with his poetical observations.

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What Would You Like to #AskELJames?

EL James

This is partly a quick notice to say that there won’t be a new Grey recap today. I’ve fallen a little behind on them, and yesterday’s was an absolute mess of typos and glitches (thanks, WordPress). So I do want a little more time to give you something polished and coherent. I know it’s not like anyone’s waiting breathlessly for these, but since I’d normally have one up today I just wanted to give a heads-up.

And, though I didn’t participate in yesterday’s skewering of EL on Twitter, I did come up with a list of 5 questions I’d love to ask her (some in more than 140 characters):

1) Why does it seem like Christian’s abuse as a child is more important than Ana’s abuse as an adult, and why does it excuse Christian’s adult behavior?

2) What do you think of the fact that alleged serial rapists like Jian Ghomeshi have proudly compared themselves to Christian Grey with no hint of irony?

3) Why are all women in the 50 Shades and Grey franchise — apart from Ana — portrayed as weak, mentally ill, conniving, interfering, scheming, slutty, or incompetent?

4) In a book that’s meant to be all about celebrating and enjoying BDSM, why is BDSM treated like an outlet for unresolved childhood trauma wherein the lead character will ideally be cured of his kink at the end?

And finally:

5) Had you ever met an American, a college student, a CEO, or even just two humans having a conversation before you wrote this book?

What would YOU ask EL, dear readers?

And in case you’ve fallen behind on my thrilling series, you can catch up here!

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6 (Part 1)

Chapter 6 (Part 2)

Chapter 7

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Solar-Powered Africa and Sexy Sex Baths: Chapter 7 of EL James’s “Grey”

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Because Fifty Shades of Grey operated as a romantic fantasy wherein a plain girl is swept off her feet by a rich, handsome man, EL James didn’t necessarily need to justify why a modelesque 27 year old billionaire would be interested in a mousey college student with no personality. We could just accept that it was intended as a particular female fantasy where the whole point is that an “average girl” gets to live the life of an American capitalist princess.

The trouble is that this explanation doesn’t fly when we’re telling the story from Christian’s perspective, especially because this book (Grey) tries to imply that this is also his fantasy — wherein he, a modelesque 27 year old billionaire, is swept off his feet by a largely unremarkable college student. Which is a problem because Christian is only too happy to let the reader know that he’s aware that he’s very handsome and very rich and very impressive, even if he’s a terrible scary dark monster who hates himself because of his darkness.

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Erotic Lip Biting and Demon Weed: Chapter 6 of EL James’s “Grey” (Part 2)

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So we left off last post midway through an excruciatingly long chapter filled with anal punishment and victim blaming — and yet I just bet this entry is going to top it.

So to getting up to speed, Christian has just explained that he doesn’t do that “hearts and flowers shit,” Ana wants to be “enlightened” about what he does do, and so Christian decides he will indeed allow Ana to enter his dark, dark soul of darkness and butt plugs.

But, because clear communication and respect are not part of Christian’s bullshit version of BDSM, he’s going to keep things nice and cryptic and schedule a meeting for later so he can force her to sign paperwork without a lawyer present. Fun!

For now, however, we pick up back at the hotel room:

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Gaslighting and Anal Ginger Root: Chapter 6 of EL James’s “Grey”

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This chapter is unfathomably long, so I’m not going to waste a lot of time complaining right off the top. But what I will mention — since I haven’t brought it up so far — is that the “chapters” in this book only encapsulate a single day. So all of the chapter headings are dates, rather than Chapter 1, 2, 3, etc. It’s almost — almost — as though EL James used the timeline for her original book as a guideline and then was too lazy to restructure the book into real chapters.

Almost.

Anyway, we left off with Christian joking about raping the unconscious woman he’d kidnapped, so let’s see how EL James manages to convince you that this is a foundation for lasting love:

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Rapist to the Rescue: Chapter 5 of EL James’s “Grey”

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If there’s one thing about these books that will tip me over the edge of frustration into full-on insanity, it’s the often-raised question of authorial intent. Namely, the discussion surrounding whether critics of Christian’s behavior — particularly in the first book — simply don’t understand that this is all part of EL James’s plan; that she absolutely means for Christian to be a monster (at the beginning) because the reader is intended to watch him change from controlling abuser to loving husband as the books progress.

And so all of these complaints about the way that he treats his staff, his family, his ex-lovers, his business partners, Anastasia’s friends, and Ana herself all seek to explain to the audience how troubled, misunderstood, and misguided he was before Ana saved him.

The reason that this argument will drive me insane is twofold:

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Expensive Books and the Stench of Poverty: Chapter 4 of EL James’s “Grey”

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I want to make these preambles a bit shorter, so let me cut to the chase and say that if you weren’t already convinced that EL James is the kind of materialistic Baby Boomer that rational people hate with the fire of a thousand suns — ie. someone who thinks that “the poor” are some kind of alternate race of human who don’t deserve a basic level of human respect or dignity — then please feast on this chapter opener where Christian wakes from yet another nightmare about his tragic toddlerhood:

No! My scream bounces off the bedroom walls and wakes me from my nightmare. I’m smothered in sweat, with the stench of stale beer, cigarettes, and poverty in my nostrils and a lingering dread of drunken violence.

Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck you, EL James. Fuck you.

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Casual Racism and Retail Hell: Chapter 3 of EL James’s “Grey”

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Chapter 2 left us with Christian Grey musing about how best to objectify and commodify his prospective lover after having stalked and harassed her at work. But look: this is meant to be a story about a man who has never truly let anyone in; a man who has always treated sex like some kind of business exchange — or worse — as a way for him to exert power over another person while hiding behind the pretence of kinkiness. And now, for the first time, he’s learning to love.

So maybe — just maybe — James will manage to rebuild her original story into a believable narrative in which Christian starts out the book as a largely insecure, manipulative, controlling, and socially tone-deaf abuser who then “transforms” into the loving, sensitive, and generous man that Ana knows he must be deep-down… despite all of the evidence to the contrary.

The thing is, glib as I am, and as much as I have fun pointing out EL James’s shit house writing, I want her to prove me wrong. I want to see in Grey what I didn’t see in its predecessors: namely how or why these books could be seen as anything but a cautionary tale of domestic abuse in which an abuser slowly coerces a naive girl into putting up with more and more of his bullshit until she resigns herself to a violent and controlling relationship — particularly while the abuser himself acts as though any compromise on his part would be unfair.

But before I get too far with my unrealistic hopes and dreams, I have some bad news: this re-write only covers the first book of the original trilogy, which means that there will definitely be at least two more. So what Grey’s defenders are certain to do is argue that we won’t really see “The Change” in him by the end of this book anyway, and that really he’s meant to be an asshole at this point — because Ana hasn’t worked enough virginal vagina magic yet. In any event, this is only the third chapter where no one can argue that he’s not an asshole, so let’s explore stunning scenes like “that time Jose photographed Christian while he stared at Ana for half an hour,” and “that time Christian took her for coffee and then saved her from a deranged cyclist.” Because — and I cannot stress this enough — it is literally the same fucking book with a different inner monologue.

Do not spend money on this book.

Do not suffer as I have suffered.

Instead, enjoy the following excerpts for free:

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All the Worst Parts: Chapter 2 of EL James’s “Grey”

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So this isn’t really “all” of Chapter 2, because I covered a bit of the second chapter yesterday in my random assortment of quotes from the first 35 pages. Technically, Chapter 2 opens with the incredibly boring (and yet simultaneously horrifying) background check that Christian Grey did on Ana literally minutes after she left his office, post-interview. But since I’ve already covered that, we might as well just carry on from the hardware store scene. And yes, your prayers have been answered because I’ll be tackling this beast chapter by chapter from here on out. I’m no Jenny Trout, but I’ll do my best.

Now unlike with the original trilogy, many people have mined the most unintentionally hilarious lines from this book hours after it was published. So to avoid boring you, this isn’t going to be a re-hashing of what you’ve already seen and it’s also not going to be quite so light-hearted. Because while I will still be giving you such masterpieces as “my cock concurs,” I’m also going to talk a little bit more about why I hate Christian Grey so much, and why writing this series off as “chick lit,” “mommy porn,” or “just bad writing” does a major disservice to both its readers and its critics. Because if you thought the themes of abuse in the original series was bad, it’s nothing compared with Christian’s first-hand account of it.

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Some of the Best Quotes From the First 35 Pages of “Grey”

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Since EL James’s new masterpiece debuted on Kindle late last night, I can’t offer you an immediate review of what will surely be one of the most harrowing reading experiences of my life. Partly because I’ve always been a slow reader, and partly because reading this book for too long with an expression of muted horror on my face was giving me a headache.

The amount I’ve read so far isn’t enough to render a real verdict, but it’s fair to say that this book was clearly more carefully edited than James’s original trilogy. I’d hoped that with the benefit of revision, James could actually see the major flaws in her “twisted” love story and may even be using this book to help justify what otherwise felt like an abusive relationship being masqueraded as a “kink.” If she truly didn’t see it that way, surely she could use this book to show skeptics how she continues to justify Christian’s behavior.

Instead, when you strip away Inner Goddesses, oh geezes, sloppy grammar, and punctuation errors, you’re left with a monster of a human being who seems to think that calling himself a “dark soul” and constantly whining about his very early childhood (before he was adopted by a rich family) is enough to excuse the fact that he’s just a shitty abuser.

Either way, I did manage to read about 35 pages before I passed out, and so before I attempt a full review, I’ll bring you some of the most memorable, bizarre, and downright horrible quotes from what is already shaping up to be the worst entry in James’s domestic violence series.

Without further ramblings ados, here you go:

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