I’ve not read more than a few pages of the books. I have tried, from time to time: whenever I spot one in a charity shop I tend to pick it up and scan a paragraph and think to myself, well maybe I ought to… But then my eye is usually drawn to the rest of the bargain bookshelf and I pick up something else: a thriller, a ghost story, maybe something by one of the half-dozen chicklit authors whose work I enjoy, and I leave EL James well alone.
It’s not that I’m desperately bothered by ropey prose stylings: I’ve found several atrociously-written books have stayed with me over the years and merited re-reading despite the clunky language or unconvincing characters. I’m not even that outraged by the concept of a very unhealthy relationship being presented as romantic rather than dangerous in all the wrong ways (it’s hardly anything radically new.)
The biggest reason I refuse to give up any chunks of my life to reading the 50 Shades trilogy is because I know it won’t do anything for me. None of the tropes in that book are going to get me excited.
First of all, I don’t identify with dimwit ingenues. I’ve had my share of weird and kinky sex and I like being someone who actually knows what to do with a whip and a length of rope, so a protagonist who’s completely ignorant is one I will find annoying. Nor have I any great interest in the type of Mary-Sue wish-fulfillment where being plain, thick and adrift from everything makes you desirable because you’re ‘different’ (from anyone with a life or a personality).
More importantly, a berk in a suit, no matter how wealthy or well-hung, is never going to turn me on. My fantasy men tend to have long hair, tattoos, ripped jeans or leather trousers and at least a touch of guyliner. And while I have no objection to being taken out for a nice dinner (or indeed taking someone I fancy out for a nice dinner if I’m feeling flush) I’m not all that fussed by the 20-Ferraris-and-a-helicopter type of man.
And finally, when it comes to erotic fiction, I want a story. I want a plausible source of conflict and tension, not something that reads like a textbook case of sexual harassment without even a redeeming twist. So while I’m happy that a crap book and a (by the sound of it) crap film have got people talking about sex and specifically female sexuality, I hope the next wave of filth-for-women will be a bit more diverse both in character and subject matter.