If I see another article about the novel Fifty Shades of Gray I’m going to scream.
And no, I don’t mean screaming out of extreme arousement.
Its no mystery that the literary world has turned into a pure advertising excersise, selling mediocre authors with good marketing skills as pinnacles of originality. But enough is enough.
We coped with wizards and teenage witches adventures sold as adult books; we watched as shopaholics who turn broken nails into a reason for a mental breakdown were saluted as “chick lit” and compared to Jane Austen; we shook our heads in pain as bookshops filled with thrillers about Templars and secret manuscripts boasting more grammatical incompetence than a fifth grader; we flicked through pages of articles trying to pass a modest, predictable, fairly boring and badly edited story about a Swedish anorexic as the dawn of a new genre – the Scandinavian crime novel – followed by hundreds of similar volumes with snow and blood on their covers, as if anyone born North of Scotland was automatically the new Tolstoy of thriller…
I thought we’d endured the worst but I was wrong.
It’s now time for the female porn.
“So we’ve launched witches, templars, fashion addicts, vampires, northern criminals…” the Don Draper of Books says to his colleagues in Madison Avenue. “What could we possibly feed to our public pretending it’s literature?”
“Bankers going on holiday?”
“No, too controversial”
“No, we want to appeal to our middle eastern markets”
“Sky sports has the copyrights”
“Nursery rhymes for pensioners?”
“Ehy, hold on, I have an idea: sex!”
“Sex? Wow, that’s really original, Peggy.”
“Oh but there’s more to it: sex told by a woman!!”
“Incredible! women have sex too? Like, regular women who work in supermarkets? Amazing. I thought it was only models, lap dancers and Paris Hilton who could be bothered! This is so original I want to slit my wrist out of envy for not having come up with such a world changing concept.”
Oh yes. The big brains of publishing have decided that after all those dead bodies in the fjords, it was time for a little “frisson”.
With a woman’s touch.
Enter a blogger who talks rude sex and, surprise surprise, has quite a following on the Internet (where the word “sex” has been rating first on google since its invention)… And voila, a new literary phenomenon was born.
Let’s make it very clear: I don’t have a problem with Fifty shades’ high sales. Exactlly like the Da Vinci Code or Shopaholic or The girl with the dragon tattoo it’s easy reading.
And most people, let’s face it, tend to read on holiday, on the plane or before bed and just want something fun and gripping. They seek entertainment more than literary value
I understand this like I understand films like the Hangover or Mission Impossible breaking the box office.
But if all of a sudden every week the review pages of The Guardian
and The New York Times were filled of serious articles about the new filmic horizons opened by The Hangover, I would think the world’s press has gone on a collective LSD trip.
Nobody will ever try to pass a commercial blockbuster movie as a masterpiece of cinema.
So why fo they think they can fool us with novels?
Do you want to be entertained by a “girl talking sex”? Good for you, be my guest.
But stop trying to pass Fifty Shades of Gray for a literary novel, an interesting novel or simply a novel worth talking about for longer than five minutes, because it has no artistic value. And not because it’s about sex.
A good novel can be about anything, seahorses, urban legends and indeed sex. If the writing is good, if the concept is creative, anything goes.
But in this case the plot is unoriginal, the language is flat and for all its trying hard to arouse and shock the book, (that I left unfinished since my time is too precious to be wasted with bad reading) is in fact lame and predictable.
Fifty shades of gray does exactly what it says on the tin: it titillates because that’s what porn does. It’s not great literature and I doubt it ever tried to be.
And no, I’m not impressed that it’s been written by a woman, in fact I find the implied wink infuriating and patronising: hey, women out there, now you can finally read porn too! Thanks to this book full of dirty sex written by a member of the female gender!
Yeah! Open the gates!
Honestly, I do suspect Don Draper to be behind Fifty shades’ marketing campaign because this concept is so troglodyte it could only be conceived in 1961.
I want to read porn, I’ll read porn, whether it’s written by a woman, a man or an alien.
I personally find porn boring, sex being one of those things that it’s fun to do but not fun to read, exactly like eating or dancing. But the idea that this novel has finally arrived to liberate us from our inhibitions is frankly insulting.
Yes, Fifty shades of gray is the Da Vinci Code of sex. It satisfies a need in a quick, simplistic way. And like most self publishing enterprises, it could do with some decent editing and a better syntax.
Now let’s wait for this trend to pass, and start guessing where the next big idea will come from: African comedy? Gay history fiction? Vegan melodrama? The secret sex of mosquitoes?