That 800 Pound Gorilla On The Bookshelf

The film adaptation for that book is out shortly. Everyone, uh, brace yourselves (if that is the best way to put it). Fashion/ style/ culture writer Lisa Lo Paro tweets plainly as to what she thinks:


And she details why at that Rant Chic link:

Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson’s Comments About Filming ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Are Kind of Appalling

Previously I’ve addressed the book in general terms – although I have not read it; and I have no plans to see the film – largely because as writers we can’t pretend it’s not there. Indeed it’s foolish for any fiction/ romance author to imagine it’s honestly possible to ignore (for the moment anyway) its reach and impact. It’s that 800 pound gorilla on the bookshelf.

Or, perhaps to characterize it more accurately, that 800 pounds of rope around our necks.

As for its readers? I’m pretty sure I’m not representative of its “target” readership. We can also presume it’s not Sir Salman Rushdie’s cup of tea. (“It made ‘Twilight’ look like ‘War and Peace.'”) As we know it’s not to Lisa Lo Paro’s taste either.

And as we also know it has sold something like a zazillion copies. Which is why there’s a film version naturally. So quite a lot of someones out here have been buying it.

I know for sure that my sister has. She’s read it as she’s left her 30s behind. Is that its “target” readership? Slightly more “mature” women?

She’s fluent in French, Italian and Russian. She was an English Literature and Foreign Languages student and has always read widely. It’s all fair game: everything from medieval French romance (in French), to Tolstoy (in Russian), to a litany of present day “vampire” writers (in mundane English).

I suppose Fifty Shades falls into her latter bunch. We have never discussed it. However, when asked about it by our mother – yes, really – she termed it “erotica.” I sense she was being extremely generous, because, knowing how critical she is of any book, I suspect she read it out of curiosity, got through it in about 15 minutes, and laughed.

Free Stock Photo: A beautiful blonde puckering for a kiss isolated on a white background. (NOTE: I didn't write that awful caption. That site did.)
Free Stock Photo: A beautiful blonde puckering for a kiss isolated on a white background. (NOTE: I didn’t compose most of that description. That site did.)

Writing junk sex is also laughable. It requires a finesse and a lot of effort to write sex well; and any, shall we say, err, “odd activity” is even tougher to get right. In Passports, I joked through “James” about the difficulty in penning sex, and nodded to “Uncle Bill” as a stand-in for my real-life writing uncle’s dexterity in that department:

“What he writes isn’t what I like to read. I couldn’t write what he does. I remember my grandmother once telling him off about the sex. ‘Where did you learn stuff like that?’ she yelled.”

If Fifty Shades is indeed (as in the opinion of some to many) awful literature, it’s honestly hard to understand its success. Its subject matter obviously gives many out here the “heebie-jeebies” as well. We may never be able fully to grasp why it has become virtually a cottage industry.

My most viewed post for 2014 was one on that book. I don’t know how to interpret that. I’m not sure if I should be pleased about the interest it brought to my modest site here, or utterly depressed about it.


In any event, on that note I’ll shortly be clicking “Publish.” We are heading to Heathrow in a little while to fly to France for a ski week.

Well, my wife will be skiing. I may do a little. But I intend mostly to write and prop up a bar or two.

There’s wifi where we’ll be staying, so I should be posting and tweeting from there over the next week as usual. (I’m sure you’re utterly ecstatic to learn that!) Mrs. Nello is already needling me that she’s sure I’ll find more “inspiration” writing in France.

Have a good Sunday. 🙂


P.S. I’m probably not going to see the Super Bowl. It’s always on too late over here – and France’s an hour later than Britain. And I don’t really care who wins this one anyway…. but will admit to hoping it’s not the New England, uh, Deflators. 😉