Everyone else is talking about it, so I thought I’d give Fifty Shades of Grey a chance. Just the free sample you can download to your Kindle, mind, not the whole thing. I wasn’t allowed far enough in to get to the naughty bits, so I can’t judge those*.
The fan fiction roots show- there is a tendency to list what the characters are doing, action by action, and to give location descriptions that don’t conjure up much sense of location- but I’ve read “proper” books that have been worse**.
FSoG is a romance, I guess, though most people are going to work their way through the clunky seduction hoping to get worked up by the kinky rope play. It’s the erotic elements, after all, that have got it all the attention. Because it’s erotica aimed at women it’s earned the description of “Mommy porn” and because it’s been so successful it has attracted a lot of- mostly negative- attention. Some of the bad mouthing has to be down to jealousy (the three book series has sold 20 million copies sfter all) or snobbery, but, as Laurie Penny has pointed out, some of it is because it’s a dirty book aimed at women.
Penny also argues that it doesn’t matter that the Grey books are badly written, because they can be considered porn and it’s okay if porn is a bit crappy. On this I have to disagree with her. There’s no reason why dirty books should have to be bad. We need material we can hold up as high quality smut, and it needs to be supported.
I’m sure there’s a market for naughty tales with interesting stories- I am, after all, writing a sexy ghost story, so I’d best be right. Probably not anything that wants to be called literary erotica- too pretentious to be exciting- but something with the energy and joy of genre fiction, punctuated with sex as often as chases or fights. If you know of any that already exists then please do let me know about it.
*Is it bad that I want to read the naughty bits and see how good/bad/indifferent they really are.
**I’ve made a habit of it, in fact. I forced myself through to the end of The Da Vinci Code because that particular copy had already defeated two other people. And I used to have a bad technothriller habit, though it did provide the inspiration for Sounds of Soldiers.