I obviously have been living under a rock because it wasn’t until last week that I heard about this little book called Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James.
The author was being interviewed by a morning news program and at first I thought she was talking about a historical or political novel. She referenced slaves, violence and abuse and it was only after a few minutes that I realized she was talking about a work of adult erotic fiction. This brought me back to a time in college when one of my roommates and I found a collection of erotic short stories at a bookstore and when we tried to read it, we both cracked up laughing right there in the store. Did women really connect with this type of writing? The answer was obvious a few years ago when the Twilight series became popular. A novel geared to teenage girls was being read by married women in the 30s. Why? What’s the allure with erotic or even semi-erotic literature?
Martinis and Minivans is a blog about a New Yorker now living the Midwest life as a writer, mother, and woman on the never-ending quest to be hip. Danielle Herzog is a native Long Islander from a ridiculously large Italian family where she doesn’t know the names of all of her cousins. She loves being in the Midwest but still doesn’t understand what May Day is and why everybody is so nice. You can find her at nights after the kids are in bed writing on her computer with an episode of The Real Housewives of Any City in the background.
I decided to explore it further and check out Fifty Shades of Grey myself. I was at an airport bookstore and saw it on the shelf with only one copy left. I opened to a random page and read an entire paragraph with my jaw on the ground. I quickly shut the book, felt myself turning red, looked around and was mortified to see a man in his 60s staring at me.
I awkwardly smiled and tried to grab a magazine, and then he leaned in close and whispered, “My wife and I just finished reading that book. It’s amazing!” What? Not only are married women reading this but men in their 60s are too? I’m officially confused. Currently on the NY Times Bestseller list for over 13 weeks, the book has something about it that appeals to the mass population. The author herself has often said that she doesn’t know why they are so popular.
In talking with fellow moms who have read it and enjoyed it, I’ve heard things like, “It’s an escape from reality,” or “I wouldn’t want anything like that in my real life.” I’m not sure this is my form of escapism considering that I can’t stop giggling when I read the stuff, but then again I do enjoy watching The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and I definitely don’t want their lives so escapism comes in all types of forms.
In an interview with Elizabeth Vargas from ABC News, the author E.L. James described the book as, “a love story with kink”. Kink – well that might be a bit of an understatement.
So what do you think? Love story, erotic fiction or just plain inappropriate reading material?