The Space Between

50 Shades of ‘Are you f@#!ing kidding me?’

Sex sells — and apparently so does dreadful writing.

As long as its about young, beautiful, helpless females being sexually dominated by older, handsome, billionaire demigods with awesome tie collections and a questionable moral compass (some things never change I guess). I just read that the book ’50 Shades of Grey’ has sold over 100 million copies and even if you are one of the 20 million who thought it was a paint swatch book (thank you Anthony Lane) that still leaves 80 million people who willingly bought and read this book. As I write, over 100 million people, mostly women, have swarmed to the theatres to watch the movie version.

Now, I was a never a huge fan of the Harry Potter series but at least JK Rowling can write. I honestly tried to read ’50 Shades’ just to see what the fuss was about and could not get past the first 10 pages. Dave Barry offers this great insight on the writing style of E.L. James:

I think I might be the only man who read this book. I did it sneakily, hiding the cover, especially when I was on the airplane, which is actually a good place to read this book because you have access to a barf bag. I say this because of the writing style, which is…OK, here’s one tiny sample of this writing style:

“Did you give him our address?”
No, but stalking is one of his specialties,” I muse matter-of-factly. Kate’s brow knits further.

That’s right: This is the kind of book where, instead of saying things, characters muse them, and they are somehow able to muse them matter-of-factly. And these matter-of-fact musings cause other characters’ brows—which of course were already knitted—to knit still further. The book is over five hundred pages long and the whole thing is written like that. If Jane Austen (another bestselling female British author) came back to life and read this book, she would kill herself.

As much as I laughed at Dave Barry and Anthony Lane’s reviews, I was also disturbed by this excerpt from one anonymous mom to her teenage kids:

This is not a love story. Rather, it’s a movie about a narcissistic man’s controlling and violent sexual desires and his sense of entitlement to use and abuse a vulnerable young woman’s body and mind as tools for his own gratification. It’s all about his needs, coupled with the arrogant expectation that she should comply, regardless of her discomfort, to please him. 

I sat in the theatre and looked around me at hundreds of women, buying into this so-called ‘sexy love story’ and I felt sick. If an entire theatre of women three times your age couldn’t see how damaging this plot line is, how on earth are teenage girls and boys supposed to?

Please, my daughters, don’t allow this romanticizing of sexual domestic abuse fool you into believing that you should ever allow yourself to be treated like Anastasia Steele. Please, my son, don’t watch this one day and believe that it’s ever okay to intimidate, manipulate or disrespect a woman like the ‘hero,’ Christian Grey. Nobody, male or female, wants or deserves to be disrespected, manipulated or violated against his or her wishes.

As I said, I could not get through the book and have no intention of lining Ms James coffers by seeing the movie. But for those of you who have enjoyed or loathed either? I’d love to hear your opinion…

In October 2012, I drove 6,800 kms with my artist husband, Ric Kokotovich (, and my dog Iggy, to spend 6 months in our adopted city of Merida. Leaving the fast paced world of Calgary behind, I packed my books, art and entrepreneurial spirit, and set off to explore what lay beyond the borders that had become my life. In October 2013 we hit the road south again, hoping to find out what ‘living the dream’ really means. This is my adventure.

5 comments on “50 Shades of ‘Are you f@#!ing kidding me?’

  1. Yes, guilty as charged. I borrowed my friends series to see what the fuss was about. Finished the first (and only) one with much eye rolling, sighs of exasperation and downright laugh-out-loud moments at the schlep of it all. I am proposing to our writers group that we do our own version together. Anastasia Steel just made me want to smack her, especially when she bit her lip adorably MANY TIMES which drove him wild with desire of course, only to be reciprocated for her when his jeans fell languidly off his hips on many occasions. This is a well hung story…from the rafters of the imagination. Please people, give me some subtle erotica that is bare bones in its sensuality and leaves something to the imagination. As I write this, my jeans crumple coquettishly off my full and voluptuous ass, driving no-one wild with much of anything. Signing off for now, Heather Hot Pants

    On Wed, Feb 18, 2015 at 2:15 PM, YomimiYo wrote:

    > Alison Wattie posted: “Sex sells — and apparently so > does dreadful writing. As long as its about young beautiful helpless > females being sexually dominated by older handsome billionaire demigods > with awesome tie collections and a questionable moral compass (some things > never ch”

    • No THAT’S what I call a comment! Laughed my flat ass off, Heather Hot Pants. I can’t wait for your version – my book club is also considering weighing in on the ‘clit lit’ genre because my god, surely we can do better than this, she mused matter-of-factly….

  2. Well I have not read the book, nor seen the movie but my lord, there is a lot of fuss over this one. However, I am truly enjoying this type of commentary. I gather from both the yomimiyo & Heather Hot Pants critiques that I may very well find better things to do with my time. Perhaps nothing….

  3. Ashley Geddes

    You were absolutely right to stop reading this schlocky book Alison. Being a male in the media business, I somehow fooled myself into thinking I SHOULD read this book, at least the first one. It was terrible, embarassing in fact, about the same quality as a “white cheeks flushing” Harlequin romance only with violent tendencies. How this became a best seller is beyond me, and I have been dissing it ever since I wasted time “reading” it. You can’t fight McDonald’s, and I guess you can’t fight 50 Shades of Grey. It’s the same fatty, non-nutritious material that leaves you feeling empty, made even worse by disturbing goofballs like Jian Gomeshi trying to use it as an excuse for shameful, violent behaviour. What the F…. indeed.

    • Thank you for the male perspective – I was beginning to feel the odd man out lol. We discussed the ‘merits’ of the book at book club tonight and mused matter-of-factly that it was in fact, a piece of schlock and did not deserve further discussion. Instead, we discussed ’50 Shades of Menopause’ which was at least very funny.

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