Friday, April 20, 2012

being driven by one's obsessions does not a Master make . . .

further observations on 50 Shades of Grey
A Gorean Slave Girl - John Norman's Gor series, despite violating the laws of physics and being total fantasy, is perhaps more plausible than 50 Shades of Grey by EL James
My darling slave/wife Serafina just completed the first part of a recent slave assignment, to review the book 50 Shade of Grey by E.L. James.  With that in mind, I'm now freed to make my own observations about the book, and the phenomena behind it.

Let me begin by saying, that I do believe Serafina is intellectually honest, and certainly is capable of forming and holding her own opinions.  But, I also know that a Master can have an overwhelming influence on their own slave's thinking.  For that reason, I've delayed putting any of my own impressions into writing, as I preferred to avoid unduly influencing Serafina prior to completing her assigned post.

I'd like to start by addressing the audience for which this book was written.  Now, I know that some authors don't believe in writing for a specific target audience, for instance kinky author and online friend Sadey Quinn said to me:
I don’t write for specific crowds, and I don’t think it’s fair to say one book isn’t appropriate for a group of people.
You are a nice lady Sadey, but I'm very much of a different opinion.  To my mind, if you are writing for everyone, you are really writing for no one.  I think it's always necessary to think about one's audience when writing.

I'm very positive that Laura Antoniou is writing for a different audience than EL James.  I'm not a betting man, but if I were, I'd be "all in" on a bet regarding those two author's intent.  Anyone care to wager?

If 50 Shades of Grey were a movie, I'd categorize it among "chick flicks".  It's much closer to being a harlequin romance than to any kind of serious literature.

At the same time I was reading 50 Shades of Grey, I was also reading The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, as well as rereading Tarnsman of Gor by John Norman.  If I were to compare my three most recent reads against each other, the outcome will not be at all pretty for 50 Shades of Grey.

I'd say that as an author, EL James isn't worthy to shine Oscar Wilde's boots, there's that great a difference in the quality of the two works.  Some might say I shouldn't be looking for real literary qualities in a book designed to titillate, and they might be right.  Oscar Wilde wasn't simply rewriting fan fiction like EL James.  It's ridiculous to try and compare 50 Shade of Grey to any kind of serious fiction, it's a different beast.

I don't know that anyone has accused John Norman's series of books about Gor as being a serious literary work, although in making that assertion I might upset a great number of online Gorean slaves, so be it.  The comparison between these two books is much more apt.

If you aren't familiar with the world of Gor, it's a Counter-Earth on the other side of the sun that's shielded from detection by Priest Kings who apparently have the ability to overrule the laws of physics.  It's a world where there are no guns or modern weapons, where power is won by guile and the strength of one's own sword arm.  It's also a land where men are men and women are (mostly) slaves.  As with most constructs, it's a world created in the imagination of a single man.

With that said, all of the science fiction elements asides, the individuals who inhabit the fantasy world introduced in Tarnsman of Gor are more believable than the characters introduced in 50 Shades of Grey.

I'm pretty sure that EL James was trying to create the impression of a Christian Grey who was sort of like a really pale version of blaxploitation film hero Shaft.  He's supposed to be a complicated man, and no one's to understand him but his woman.

Instead he strikes me as an insecure weasel who's lack of personal self control would be more indicative of an individual destined to respond with queries like - "How may I serve you?" and "Would you like to super size that?" - rather than an individual who pilots helicopters as well as single handedly building a prosperous corporation.

Throughout the book I wanted to say - "Dude, take a deep breath . . . I guarantee it'll be better if it's not over in less than the length of a commercial break!"  I know busboys screwing inside walk in freezers who had better stamina and longer actual encounters than Christian Grey's demonstrates with Anastasia, the story's narrator.  He screws like a baby crawls, quick and in short spurts.  He has the studied stamina of a rabbit.

He's not dashing, he's desperate, which makes perfect sense if you really stop to think about it.  I'm not even going to get too far into the deep insecurities about his own sexual prowess that Grey demonstrates by pursuing a 20+something aged virgin.  But I do think it's fair to say that the only woman who wouldn't recognize his inept lovemaking for being the height of personal selfishness would someone who is totally inexperienced, who'd never even had a boyfriend, not ever.

In that way, Anastasia might be a bit more believable than the ubiquitous Mr Grey (for God's sake don't misunderstand - I'm being sarcastic!)  I'm still looking for demographics indicating there are great numbers of college women who not only have perfect IQ's and perfect figures, but who also enjoy a perfectly intact hymen and a perfectly blissful ignorance of the joy of orgasm at college graduation.  Uh-huh!  I'm guessing, if I went searching for such a creature in real life, I'd feel like Diogenes, wandering the campuses of North America with a lantern on an endless quest.

Still, despite all those flaws, 50 Shade of Grey was a fun read, if only for just a moment.  It's like white sugar, it tastes good enough at the moment, but you know it's not good for you.  There's nothing wrong with white sugar, but remember that too much is guaranteed to make you sick.

Despite all the hype that's surrounded the book,  50 Shade of Grey will never ever be considered for rereading here at Castle Samadhi.  There are enough good fetish authors like Laura Antoniou and Patrick Califia who's works do deserve rereading, I simply don't have time for any more EL James.

50 Shade of Grey is really just disposable fiction, nothing more.  Appropriately marketed, it would be printed on toilet paper.  It's fair to good bathroom reading, and it would serve a more useful purpose when complete.


  1. Not to be overtly picky Sir, and while mouse does agree your comments in general, the female character was Anastasia, not Rebecca.


    1. You are absolutely correct mouse, thank you for helping me get that right. Ahhh the joys of not having an editor and finishing a review after a long day on the road.

      I guess it was a Freudian slip . . . Rebecca is the female sub in Sadey Quinn's novel, Serafina reviewed that one at Sadey's request, and I read it too. I somehow transposed the names in a tired old mind.

      I guess I was too busy dishing snark . . . an activity I usually don't like to participate in . . . But I couldn't resist with 50 Shade of Grey . . .

    2. Rebecca is not a female sub! And Serafina had a different name wrong, too, regarding the characters in my book.

      And I apologize if Serafina felt in any way obligated to review my novel. I sent out free copies like candy in the hopes that some folks will read and enjoy, but I would never, in anyway, try to solicit reviews from people who either don't enjoy reading or don't enjoy reading my books. :/ I really hope you two didn't feel like I was doing that.

    3. Sorry Sadey,

      I always finish a book passed along to me by an author, whether I particularly like it or not. I figure the author deserves that much respect. So rest assures no one here felt anything other than the usual obligation we feel to any author who passes us their work . . .

      Unfortunately, every individual who endeavors to be an author should realize not everyone will like your book . . . or even find it memorable . . .

      Again, sorry for not remembering details from your book properly . . . ]


  2. Most authors (pop romance literature) write for a specific audience. The editors suggest the genre for their next line of books. Apparently publishing houses base this on what is selling best in the market. I heard this from a popular "chick" vampire series author during an interview. When she finished that particular series she was going to write cowboy romance stories. I read light fluff and stuff, etc for entertainment when I don't want to think too deeply and need to escape the real world. Old literary favorites when the brain needs a 'pick me up challenge'.

    Enjoyed your comment... Can Serafina have you cloned please? And shipped to Florida?


    1. Thanks for the comment Joyce!

      I've never been to Florida, but I'm quite sure my clone would enjoy it there in your company . . . Now just to find a way around those pesky international prohibitions!

      big hugs,

  3. Very interesting. We've had a great time reading all the reviews and (at times very polarizing) discussion on the book, though we've yet to read it. It's on our list; however, sitting and reading (or for that matter listening) unfortunately doesn't always fit into both of our schedules.

    1. I'd guess that when you do find the time, it will be a quick read. Serafina and I didn't read it overnight (like a lot of folks seem to be doing) as it certainly wasn't impossible for us to set down. However, even with our busy schedules, it was completed in under a week.

      always good to hear from you!

  4. I have nothing to contribute about the book, but I do very much like the title of this post.

  5. << 50 Shade of Grey will never ever be considered for rereading here at Castle Samadhi. There are enough good fetish authors like Laura Antoniou and Patrick Califia who's works do deserve rereading >>

    I'd agree that 50 Shades will probably not be on the re-read list, but for me, neither is Laura Antoniou. For reasons that defy rational explanation, however, I have read the entire Gor series multiple times - perhaps the fact that I have the symbol for kajira tatooed on my left thigh comes into play .

    I found the Antoniou books to be better written than 50 Shades (although I have had about my fill of gay male porn), but I found 50 Shades better written than Gor. None of them hold a candle to Pride and Prejudice, which I could also rip apart from a "how well is it written" perspective. Mr. Darcy still makes my heart beat faster...

    1. I found Antoniou's marketplace series to be the best BDSM themed erotica I've yet read. Her portrayals of both dominants and submissives seem realistic, and her story lines are believable if you can accept the basic premise behind the Marketplace. I recently purchased the first three again for my kindle, for convenience and to grab the bonus short stories included with the kindle versions.

      You may be shocked to learn I've never read Pride and Prejudice, we all have blind spots, and that's one of mine.

    2. I am quite sure I have better things to do than reading fiction has been the motto of my life for most part. That is not to say that I don't enjoy a well written novel. I have promised Master I will try again to read Laura's books although I was turned off by slave auctions which is the first few pages of the first book.

      Bottom line is . . . .Coming from the bottom. . BTW!!

      I think there is entirely too much time used on fantasy, fictional productions, when I hardly have enough time to get through the daily grind.

  6. Meh. I really need to write up my thoughts on 50 Shades. And my books. And writing for an audience. *sigh*

    1. Now we have an author who feels the need to write up thoughts on their own books?

      There is a reason authors have editors . . . it's to keep them from saying things like that!


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