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[personal profile] pocketgarden
I'm reading 50 Shades of Grey because a coworker told me I should (she read it for her book club, and then the rest of the series) and because it's so bafflingly popular. Dear Author's review reflects a lot of my feelings about it (I skimmed the review towards the end, because I'm not done). I'd have put it down if it weren't so popular; I find it irritating, and I've read much better fanfic and much better professional porn. I'm reading it as market research.

And for that, it's really fascinating. What is it about this book that people want? It's like the Mary Sue Id Vortex, but this Mary Sue isn't someone I recognize, and this Id Vortex is seriously creeping me out. (Note: I don't think there's anything particularly wrong with Mary Sue Id Vortices per se, or wrong with liking this book; I'm not trying to express contempt here, and I'm angry at all the people who do. Mommy porn my ass.) I particularly object to the way BDSM is presented as the result of a horrible childhood, and how the heroine was not just a virgin but doesn't even masturbate. Whut? It's not that someone couldn't experience multiorgasmic sex without ever having an orgasm before, or deep throat in their first attempt at fellatio without even knowing that some people have gag reflexes -- people can do all kinds of things -- but it's really really not the way to bet.

I really, really wish I knew where my copy of Dangerous Men, Adventurous Women is; it's a book of lit-crit writing about romance novels by romance authors, and while some of it's eyerolly, some of it's fantastic, and I'm convinced that Kinsale's essay about how romance readers identify with the hero is one of the keys to understanding the phenomenon. Anyone have an online source for that, or read it more recently than me and can summarize? Just the Kinsale.

Another thing I'm thinking of is Clotaire Rapaille's Culture Code. It's...pretty batshit, and unsubstantiated, and the author has a history of making shit up and lying about his credentials. That said, it's interesting. He basically does a lot of qualitative interviews with people about how they feel about certain things, like Jeeps or America or the concept of beauty, and relates them to an imprint, or code. Like Jeep = horse, or perfection = death. I take it as cracky fun, like Myers-Briggs or "What Hobbit Are You?" meme quizzes.

The imprint he assigns "female beauty" in America is "man's salvation." Which...does not seem inconsistent with how mainstream culture approaches female beauty. And here's the thing: the book constantly talks about Ana's beauty (of which she is unaware) and how she's redeeming Christian from his horrible childhood and ick ack ptui. This is a trope I hate, but I'm thinking this might be what's kicking it over.

Don't know. I wish I hadn't given myself An Assignment; the writing isn't great, the pacing is leaden, the sex scenes are too WTF to be hot, and so far the guy's a really incompetent dom. Also, it's a pretty good case study in why first person present is difficult to sustain for a whole novel. I can see why people are finding it cracky and un-put-down-able, but I could leave it if I didn't want to write in the market.
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May 2012

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