The erotic fiction genre is ripe for the plucking
The first I heard about “50 Shades of Grey”, was that one friend had borrowed it from another on a plane, and the one that had borrowed it then proceeded to read it without stopping for the remainder of the nine-hour trip.
“So what sort of a book is it?” I asked my informant. “One with a lot of sex”, that was guaranteed to “get you all worked up”, she replied.
A fortnight later, perusing the bestseller lists, “50 Shades of Grey” popped up again. It turned out it was a trilogy, and that all three titles were dominating mainstream and independent bestseller lists.
The crossover from mainstream to independent lists, and its meteoric success catapulted me into the local bookstore – where I found a tower of freshly minted copies of the books teetering on the counter.
The sales figures suggest that there are similar towers in bookstores across the country, and that as I write courier vans are speeding more boxes of steamy content to restock shelves. The sales also suggest that the reading public’s appetite for Anastasia Steele, the trilogy’s protagonist, is almost as insatiable as her appetite for her lover, Christian, and his “impressive length”.
Once you have a little background on Anastasia though, it comes as no surprise that her appetite is in the state it is - although she has a winning personality, and a chassis to die for, Anastasia is about to graduate from college without having lost her virginity. Nor, we are explicitly assured, has she indulged in any solo sexual pastimes that might jeopardise her eyesight. Perhaps as a result of these things she also has brilliant grades.
What is clear is that Anastasia is ripe for the plucking, and plucked she is, almost as soon as she meets Christian, her local billionaire. Christian is not your bog standard billionaire though: he is jaw-droppingly handsome (as evidenced by the number of times Anastasia’s jaw drops for him); he is also exceptionally gifted in business, music, language and sport; and he cares about world hunger and global warming.
Moreover, it soon becomes apparent that he has an unsurpassed mastery of the female body and its capacity for pleasure. The only catch, for a few of us at least, is that his expert knowledge is the result of many years of dedicated involvement in the bondage, discipline, dominance, submission and sado-masochism scene.
Accordingly, following in the footsteps of Jackie Collins, Jilly Cooper, Shakespeare and Homer, EL James has demonstrated the importance of injecting imperfection into your hero, whether through the heel or otherwise.
Each volume boasts more erections than a History of Architecture. Which enables the trilogy to maintain an absolutely scorching RPM - which is the technical term in the erotic publishing industry for the number of rogers per minute, based on the reading speed of an average reader.
Presumably earlier drafts of the novels had both plot and character development but when it came to the crunch these elements have had to be sacrificed to leave enough space for the encyclopaedic collection of synonyms and euphemisms for penis, vagina and orgasm.
If you’re more of a visual learner than a reader, never fear you can readily find your entertainment equivalent to these 1500 pages. I just wouldn’t recommend getting it out on your iPad on the train to work.
This genre is what it is though, and it contributes to gross domestic happiness (except in Florida, where librarians have apparently banned the novels)which seems the only real test. This book is only dangerous if you are already late for work and pathologically randy, if you are prudish or if you are inclined to self-harm when exposed to prolonged cliché and repetition.
Bestsellers say more about readers than writers. And the success of Shades of Grey would suggest that the reservoir of interest in erotic fiction is both bigger and kinkier than may have been previously imagined.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…