Rarely do I comment on other works unless I am dying for those I love, as well as those I don't know, to read it. Not the case with the new phenom known as 50 Shades of Gray, a new erotic novel that has gone viral and will now go into reprint with Vintage, along with a staggering sum to the author, E.L. James.
First off, good for her. I stand and applaud any author who can write something that gets this kind of attention. Writing is hard. Getting published is harder. Making an actual living from it is next to impossible.
Now, I have not read the book. I repeat, I have not read the book. My comments are not about how well the book was written, nor will I piggy-back on comments about how often the author uses the term 'inner Goddess'. Having said that, I DID read the comments, and I have spoken to people who have read the book. I sat with three women last night who were either in the middle of reading it, had just downloaded the book, or planned on it soon. Those who hadn't gotten around to it yet said they couldn't wait. One took me off to the side and said that her Kindle is filled with some pretty hard-core stuff, but she was dying to see what all the fuss was about. I started to wonder myself.
This headline from the New York Times said it all:
Discreetly Digital, Erotic Novel Sets American Women Abuzz
Prior to a few days ago, had I seen a woman reading the paperback on a train, I'd have thought nothing of it, so what's all the talk about discretion? Troll the books listed under the tag EROTIC on Amazon. Now, some of those titles I actually own on MY kindle, rather than in paperback. Wondering why? Look at the covers. I'm thinking that the 'discretion' noted by the NYT, and others, might be the internal kind--like masturbating under the covers, even though no one's home. The folks at Vintage, of course, have their own point of view:
“We’re making a statement that this is bigger than one genre,” said Anne Messitte, the publisher of Vintage Anchor, who discovered the book when a colleague at Random House slipped her a copy. “The people who are reading this are not only people who read romance. It’s gone much broader than that.”
I respectfully disagree with Ms. Messitte. Women seem to be coming out of the woodwork to read a book that sets their hair on fire in a way that the best of the best romance novels out there can not. I am guessing that many have never read a true erotic novel. That the author and the publisher are listing the book as erotica is appealing to these folks, especially since, once they've read it, they find that they haven't gone blind, nor will they be heading to hell anytime soon. And, the best part, as far as I'm concerned, is that they, according to interviews, want to have sex with their husbands--a lot. Bravo again.
But, let's call a spade a spade.
"The heroine doesn't even say vagina," one woman said last night, as we discussed the difference between romance and erotica over Ruby Red martinis.
"Wait...what?" another said, knocking back what remained in her glass, for fortification, of course.
"I heard that," I said. "She refers to her nethers as 'down there'."
"You write romance and erotica, Jade," said a newcomer, who had not yet downloaded the book. "What is the difference?"
"The language and the degree of explicitness in describing the sex scene." My porn-filled Kindle friend nodded in agreement. "The BDSM is just an idea without the language to go along with it. 'He tied me up, spanked my ass and we made love' is just bad romance," I said, my tone all-knowing (not that this is in any way reflective of how 50 Shades of Gray is written. Again, haven't read it yet).
"Then why," asked the one who was in the middle of reading it, "is this book taking the world by storm?"
"Maybe," I said, "it is just what most women need to get them revved up again. Until recently, it was hard for me to read words like 'pussy', 'cunt', 'cock' and the like. I've just become comfortable writing those words and broadening my scenes to push the book into erotica territory. The sex in The Point of it All, despite the spanking scenes, is quite vanilla. And," I continued, thrilled that I was not only asked to jump on the soapbox, but I'd become quite comfortable there, "if this 'Gray' book is getting women more in touch with what actually turns them on, then great. Because once they get through 'Gray', then maybe they'll search product tags like BDSM, EROTIC, and SPANKING on Amazon, and that, my friends, will be good for all of us." I raised my Ruby Red. "God love Ms. James for paving the gentle way for the rest of us."
"The Point of it All has spanking scenes," Kindle Porn said, wide-eyed.
I rolled my eyes. That, I told her, was a whole nuther conversation.
Jade Cary writes Romantica and Romantic Suspense, on the rocks with a twist. Bottoms up!
SITES I DIG
A FADED ROMANTIC
ALTA HENSLEY, ROMANCE AUTHOR
ART OF AUTHORITY
BASIA ROSE, AUTHOR
BLACK VELVET SEDUCTIONS
BOTTOMS UP BOOK REVIEWS
CARA BRISTOL, AUTHOR
CDD FOR LIFE/PATTY DEVLIN
CELESTE JONES, AUTHOR
THE DISCIPLINED FEMINIST
EMMA K. GARDNER, AUTHOR
FREDDY AND EDDY - A WEBSITE OF ALL COUPLES
THE HAND OF LOVE
HEART AND SOUL
THE IMPROVED CHAUVINIST
KARLA DOYLE, AUTHOR
KOREY MAE JOHNSON, AUTHOR
LAZY DAY PUBLISHING
MY BOTTOM SMARTS
RENEE ROSE, AUTHOR
SADEY QUINN, AUTHOR
SARADORA'S SPANKING FICTION
SUE LYNDON, AUTHOR
TROLLOP WITH A LAPTOP