Sunday, June 10, 2012

Lesson 154: Shades of Grey--EY

The time has come.  Discussion begins.  Shades of Grey, of the "ey" variety, by E L James.  

Here's the Brit that's caused all the stir---or should I say arousal:

EL James's book has sold over TEN MILLION copies in paperback, ebook, and audio book (what the heck would an audio version be like?).  I have a paperback copy I purchased from Amazon in the beginning of May after a colleague who was reading the book made reference to it.  This picture appears on the back cover.  I found myself flipping to the back countless times, speaking to the photo as if she could hear me.
  • What the heck, chick?
  • Good God, Girlie.
  • I don't know if I would have chosen that shirt for the photo shoot......
When I read a book, I usually spend as much time researching the author as I do actually reading the book.  Every story is in some way connected to its author, and I found myself wanting to know as much as I could about this woman whose story turned her into an overnight millionaire.

She writes under a pen name, too.  Erika Leonard is her real name.  Wikipedia and the few other sites I looked at didn't list an age, but given that she's been married for 20 years and has two teenage sons, she looks to be my age-ish.  Wikipedia also noted that she was listed in Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World.  Really?  From writing an erotic novel?

I found out she worked in TV, and couldn't escape the fact that Erika has two teenaged sons.  I want to ask her, "So, how's that goin'?" I am sure my school friends can't get past my line in the first paragraph, a colleague made reference to it.  They are going to have a tough time guessing which one as I travel around to all five schools in my district.  I can almost hear the #2 sharpened graphite scratching out lists of possibilities on left over 2011-2012 school issue tablet paper now.  Could be anyone.  However, I did give this person a great new nickname, which was so good I had to share it with her (if you are a good sleuth, you just X'ed off the guy teachers because I just wrote HER).  

In my research I found out some really cool things.  E L James was a Twilight fan.  So much so that she was a participant in Fanfiction and had her own blog under the name Snowqueens Icedragon (?????).  For those of you unfamiliar with Fanfiction, it is a site where stories are written about characters apart from their original works.  For example, I could write my own version of the Ending of Lost, and freely put it on that site in blog form, with no hopes of ever publishing it.  I am sure the legalities of it are complex.  Just a quick look see left me confused.  Only being able to read one out of every five words told this teacher that I didn't pick my "just right book" so I quickly clicked off of that section.  I guess it is a safe place for writers to explore their creativity with characters like Harry Potter.  It also protects the original creators of those characters from anyone destroying their work.

Apparently E L James/Snowqueens Icedragon had a thing for Twilight.  So much so that she wrote something called Master of the Universe which used Bella and Edward as the main characters.  Here it is:

It appeared on a blog called Twilighted, and it was put up chapter by chapter using the input of followers.  I checked the link now, and all material has been removed.  It took some digging for me to find that picture above, so you'll have to trust me if you don't want to put the time into it.  In this story, Edward was portrayed as controlling and stalkerish.  Bella the awkward and innocent, yet totally in love, young woman.  It became the basis for the book Shades of Grey.

I found an interview on line with Stephenie Meyer, author of Twilight.  She was asked how she felt about her characters Edward and Bella being the root of the story for 50 Shades of Grey.  Meyer admitted that she had not read the book but wished E L James good luck.  Stephenie Meyer was quoted in saying "Obviously she had a story in her, so it would've come out in some other way" (if not as part of fanfiction).  Meyer knows from personal experience that there is at least one story in all of us that needs to be told.  But only a few of us have the ability to write it in a way that others would want to read it.

Meyer always refers to herself as a storyteller rather than a writer.  I must agree there is a difference.  Writers have more skill and hone their craft to perfection.  Storytellers connect better with a wider audience and are often more entertaining.  I sort of align myself with the former, and I think my readers will agree.  I am sure you find all of my typos.

I don't always read my blogs back before hitting "publish".  I hit spell check, but spellchecker doesn't have the brains to pick up correctly spelled words that are misspelled within the context of a sentence.  Once in a blog post over a year ago, I found that I typed the word untie when I actually meant to write unite.  I laughed when I read how it changed the context of the sentence.  A pin on pinterest even exists about this.  Look:

Choo!  Choo!  That freight train of a brain of mine just pulled out of the station.  The word untie reminded me of 50 Shades.  There's a fair share tying to read about in between the covers---of the book I mean.

Quit blabbing, Eloise!  I can hear my sister Kenyan now.  She wants to know what Big Sister thinks.  She wants to know if it is worth the read.  What she really wants is my copy with all the hi-lighted good parts and dog eared pages.  Sorry, Kenyan.  It's gone.  Had to get it out of my house as quickly as possible.  I have nosy children you know.  In fact, it is already in route to A Friend Who Shall Not Be Named.  When she receives it from the Jolly Postman later this week, it will look like this, gift wrapped just for her:

Yep.  That's a necktie I tied it up with.  An ugly snowman one.  They are mysteriously disappearing from my house one by one.  A Friend Who Shall Not Be Named needs a reminder of what snow looks like anyway.  (Who's getting it next, Super Sleuths?)  Get your brain working.  It will get the blood flowing.

If you do read this book though, blood flow will not be your problem.  My blood was flowing, that's for sure, along with some other bodily fluids including sweat, tears, and a few profanities.  Yep.  Bad words because the book ticked off Eloise.  I got so irritated with the main character a couple of times I actually flung the book across the room.  As it hit the wall and landed upside down on the floor crumpling the pages, I half hoped that the impact would knock some sense into Ana and the life out of Christian.  Then I remembered this:

Whew.  Thanks for the reality check, Pinterest.

I like to read just about anything.  Children's literature is always in my stack on my bedside table.  But my favorites are the mysteries with some action involved.  I love it when things blow up, people get run over, or someone is standing in the crosshairs and I have to find out who is behind it all.  This was a different kind of read for me.

"Good.  You need it.  You're boring."  That was Kenyan my sister telling me once again to lighten up.  She's trying to tell me my inner goddess needs some work.

I read it Kenyan, but  Shades of Grey did not light up my inner goddess which had to be the most overused expression in any book I've ever read to date.  In fact, it ignited my inner angry.  This book got Eloise all pissy.

Most of you liked it, so you'll be pissy with me when I dis some parts here in the next few paragraphs.  Free country comes with free speech.  Hope you worked that into your Constitution, Slovenians.  I can safely say many of you liked it from the responses from my friends.  I can also tell by the sheer amount of pinterest pins that exist which are related to this book.  Here are a few:

Ok, somebody likes him--1,232 repins on this one tells me so.

This one is kind of funny.  Could be possible.  I had a Y2K baby.  Her name is Ellen.

Some are looking for him.  Best of luck to you.

Nap time has gotten a little more interesting for the Stay At Home Mommies:

It's not the whole twitchy palm, playroom, six page descriptions of things that I didn't think a person could find so many words for.  That was fine for me.  I read at night and in the beginning those sections kept me awake.  But after awhile, after the sixth time the deed was done, I became bored with them I guess.  Many a time I woke up with the book on my head having fallen asleep at one of the "good parts."  Too much of a good thing, I guess.  To each his own.  No judgment from Eloise if you like that kind of stuff.  What bugged me the most was the control issue.

Maybe a control freak would like this book.  Perhaps find some sort of intrigue about one person having so much control, and the other person so willing to turn it over.  It was bewildering to me and left me yelling at Ana to run for the hills.  You're college educated!  You're cute!  You can do better than this!  A Blackberry, a lap top, and a closet full of clothes aren't worth it!  (well, on second thought, maybe not the closet full of clothes...)

What's better, you ask me?  Better meaning someone who loves you and doesn't want to hurt you kind of better.  I am a fan of the love that comes gently and slowly.  A love that comes softly over time, like a pretty daisy that grows from the seed that was planted long before.   The always wondering, he-loves-me-he-loves-me-not kind of sweet love.  Not the hard and fast kind that shows up wearing handcuffs.

The writing is not bad.  I'll give it that.  I don't like reading a ton of dialogue or about flirting.  That is why the Twilight series has been a struggle for me.  But E L James strikes a good balance between description and conversation. The book is better than I thought it was going to be.

My favorite parts were the emails.  This shows the writer has talent.  She not only had cleverness to weave that into the story, but was cute with some of the titles of the subject boxes.  We learned lots about Ana and Christian shown through their own writing in the emails.  Cyberflirtation at its finest.  The one on page 400 is very good and tells a lot about Christian through his writing.  Very good E L James.  Very good.

The end was tough for me, however.  I wish the story would have ended there.  But E L James was in TV before this career took off--writing or producing I believe.  She knows just how much to give out, but not too much, because to keep her employed, you have to "tune in next time."  At this, James is a master and it just made her a millionaire.  The book leaves us curious about Christian's past.  What happened to him during those first four years of his life that went on to sway his decisions as a fifteen year old boy?  In turn, that leaves us all not just needing to "tune in next time", but BUYING 2 more books!  We helped buy that ugly shirt she has on in her photo.

And it's not like you can go check them out of the local library.  The librarians across the country have their panties in a bunch over this one (funny mental picture, must jump off that train to save this blog post).  Issues of censorship have arisen again.  Most libraries that are concerned and not allowing these books on their shelves have stated that they are preventing children from reading them.  According to a recent New York Times article, the Floridians down in the Brevard Country Library System are in a heated debate in that hot state chock full of visiting college students and Viagra laden retirees.  The Wisconsonians in the Fond de Lac  Library System have taken a hard stance and have refused to purchase any copies. You've got to buck up the $10 to get your own copy.

What didn't I like about the end?  Obviously the physical violence didn't sit too well with me.  It's hard for me to write because I don't want to give the story away to those of you who haven't read it yet.  In fact, this whole post has been difficult--how much to say, how much to hold back?  I don't want to post a SPOILER ALERT on this, so I'll show you what I've done.

The teacher took it upon herself to complete one of her own assignments.  I wrote an alternate ending for the book.  I've given this very assignment to my students a time or two--especially if they complain about a book's final pages.  As you can see, I retitled the book because of it.

I registered for an account on Fanfiction today.  It's a place for nerds like me to display their creativity, I guess.  Don't believe me?  Here's the proof:

eloise hawking,

Welcome to the FanFiction.Net community.

To activate your account, please click on the following link or paste the link
into your browser:

I clicked the link and I am all set up....just in case I decide to do it.  It's all written and ready to go, but I haven't decided if I'll actually post it.  Eloise is a thinker and pokey by nature, so I'll let you know when and if I put up 51 Shades of Grey.

When I do, it is bound to circulate.  Blogger has this cool feature where I can track my stats.  Within the first hour of putting up my Lesson 153:  Shades of Gray (with the intentional misspelling) I had 60 hits in the first hour alone, including one from the Slovenians!  Look.  I copied this from my blogger stats page where I track my hits.  I can't wait to see how the other posts do.

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Did you ever have to eat your own words in life?  How did they taste?  Let me know because I'll be eating shovelfuls of mine as I now must read the other two books.  I yapped at everyone who quit reading the Hunger Games because they found it disturbing.  "It's a STORY", I'd say.  "You have to finish it through to see how the story ends!  You can't just quit!"  I was so insistent.  So adamant!  Me and my big mouth!  Open wide, Eloise!  Got to take a big bite of humble pie. At least it will make for some interesting blog posts in the near future------and I can put off reading War and Peace for yet another summer.  Alrighty then.  I got some work to do.

Laters, Baby,


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Nadine said...

I'm almost done with the first book...and completely agree with your opinion of it. Not to give anything away, I think the writing is good, but the story is ridiculous at best, dangerous in its message at worst.

I've been told that I'll like the next two better. My friend lent me all 3 books, and being a hypocrite, I will read them. I already skimmed the epilogue of the final book, rolling my eyes the entire time (I know, twitchy palm!).

BTW, I really like your blog. Especially nice to see a shared opinion on this one!

Anonymous said...

OMGGGGG!!!! I've read book one and two of the series and I feel the EXACT same way that you do--the emails (i.e. subject headings... page 400... YES! YES!)

The abusive behavior made me want to humchuck my Kindle across my bedroom but considering I once threw 65+ MPH fastball I decided not to and just kicked my covers around in protest.

I have to say, I need to take up author stalking because you are so right, there is always some connection to the story. This woman's poor teenagers... not only did she write about--erm-- unmentionables (at length) but she became famous as a result AND she wore that abosolutely putrid blouse which was not fashionable in any of the previous 2 decades I've lived in!

Happy reading! I look forward to hearing your response :)

~Hot Pink Nail Polish