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Monday, July 30, 2012



A friend offered the theory that it is all to do with e-Readers -- when you are reading on Kindle or whatever in a train, bus, or aircraft, no one else can guess what you are reading, so you can get away with reading sexy rubbish.  Or violent rubbish. Or whatever you fancy.

Inter alia. It reminded me of a plane trip I took when I was about seventeen.  In those days, airlines handed out magazines in nifty hard covers with their logo.  Someone had loaned me a copy of Fanny Hill, and so I poked it into the airline cover, and read it throughout the trip ... which went very fast.  Then, when the announcement came that we had to get ready to land, I sneaked Fanny Hill out of the cover and into my bag.  No sooner had I settled back in my seat, than the man across the aisle leaned over and said with a grin, "You were reading a dirty book, weren't you."

But to get back to the subject, in the New Zealand Herald "Canvas" magazine this weekend, there is a story by Caroll du Chateau looking "into the publishing phenomenon taking the world by storm."

She gives some interesting background. Apparently, the "seriously sexy" book started out as an imitation of the Twilight series, written for author E.L James's fans. (How she got fans in the first place is not explained, unfortunately.)  Her fans were not all that happy with all that explicit sex, so she took it off the fiction website where she was running it, and put it on her own site. At that stage it was called "Master of the Universe" (sounds like a comic book) and was huge, being three books long.

A small Australian publisher, The Writers Coffee Shop (no apostrophe) picked it up, sliced it into three, and renamed each segment. What happened next is opaque: C du C merely says that the big publishers started circling, sharks that they are.

And Random House UK bought the trio for one-point-two million greenbacks.

Then the story investigates why people like it.  Interestingly, no one who was interviewed would allow their name to be published.  As everyone allowed, it is not exactly great literature.  But, it is addictive, say just about all the people quoted by C du C .

Well, only for some, as the vitriolic reviews on Amazon testify.

Please, don't waste your time, money and brain reading this book, wrote 1848 reviewers.

These books are not well written, incredibly repetitive, there is little character development, and the sex scenes are, well, vanilla, wrote 2202 reviewers.

Did a teenager write this? asks "meymoon" ...

I really don't like writing bad reviews. I admire people who have the courage to put pen to paper and expose themselves to the whole world, especially those writing erotica. Having just finished this book, however, I feel compelled to write a review.

About half way through the book, I looked up the author to see if she was a teenager. I really did because the characters are out of a 16 year old's fantasy. The main male character is a billionaire (not a millionaire but a billionaire) who speaks fluent French, is basically a concert level pianist, is a fully trained pilot, is athletic, drop dead gorgeous, tall, built perfectly with an enormous penis, and the best lover on the planet. In addition, he's not only self made but is using his money to combat world hunger. Oh yeah, and all of this at the ripe old age of 26! And on top of that, he's never working. Every second is spent having sex or texting and emailing the female character. His billions seem to have just come about by magic. It seriously feels like 2 teenage girls got together and decided to create their "dream man" and came up with Christian Grey.

Then come the sex scenes. The first one is tolerable but as she goes on, they become so unbelievable that it becomes more laughable than erotic. She orgasms at the drop of a hat. He says her name and she orgasms. He simply touches her and she orgasms. It seems that she's climaxing on every page.

Then there's the writing. If you take out the parts where the female character is blushing or chewing her lips, the book will be down to about 50 pages. Almost on every single page, there is a whole section devoted to her blushing, chewing her lips or wondering "Jeez" about something or another. Then there's the use of "shades of". He's "fifty shades of @#$%% up," "she turned 7 shades of crimson," "he's ten shades of x,y, and z." Seriously?

The writing is just not up to par, the characters are unbelievable, and the sex verges on the comical. I don't know what happens in the remaining books and I do not intend to read them to find out. But given the maturity level of the first book, I imagine that they get married, have 2 perfect children, cure world hunger, and live happily ever after while riding into the sunset, as the female character climaxes on her horse causing her to chew her bottom lip and blush fifty shades of crimson. Jeez!

So I go for my friend's theory -- people are reading it because eReaders make reading such stuff in public relatively anonymous.


Mark Hubbard said...

Hey, I'm just glad I don't have to carry by tax texts around in brown paper bags anymore.

Joan Druett said...

Reminds me of an old cartoon. Two guys are sitting at a bar. What the reader can see (but the guy next to him can't) is the briefcase marked "IRD" on the floor by the nearest guy's chair.

The other guy is saying, "Now that I've told you about all my commercial successes, tell me what you do."