Good morning. Welcome back to Fifty Shades of Shit, an attempt to wade our way through the most inexplicably popular pile of crap since Richardson’s Pamela beat 18th Century readers over the head with the same repeated plot point for about forty million mind-numbing pages.
Now, I know what you’re all thinking – grammar is all very well and characterisation is very important, but when do we get to the bit where we point and laugh at the hilariously shitty writing?
Well, it’s your lucky day. Let’s roll around in the stink a little, although not entirely without purpose. Remember I asked what the problem was with the paragraph we crudely repaired last time?
The problem, of course, is Ana. Ana has been living with Kate for some time. Ana knows Kate has been trying to arrange this interview for the past nine months. Nine months of conversations about school and work and boys and grades and the student magazine. Nine fucking months, people. And Ana still doesn’t know anything about the subject of this much sought after interview? Either this girl’s skull could be used to armour plate a presidential limo or this book already makes no sense at all.
Lesson 2 – How To Make Your Writing Make Sense.
This is really simple. Make it make sense. That’s all. That’s literally all you have to do. Why can’t you do this, E.L. James? It’s not hard.
Okay, so we’ve established that Ana and Kate are bee-eff-effs forever, despite Ana apparently not paying attention to anything Kate has said for the last nine months. How do we know this? Well, there was a well worded and realistic dialogue exchange peppered with relevant detai…oh, who the fuck am I kidding?
There was this. This.
I cannot believe I let Kate talk me into this. But then Kate can talk anyone into anything. She’ll make an exceptional journalist. She’s articulate, strong, persuasive, argumentative, beautiful – and she’s my dearest, dearest friend.
You know, whenever I want to say something nice to my friends this is the way I always go. Nothing says ‘I love you’ like barfing up some bastard cocktail of a boilerplate eulogy and the advertising copy for an upmarket feminine deodorant.
And this makes no sense either. Kate? Make an exceptional journalist? Are we talking about the same Kate who is currently snuffling into her pink pyjamas and crying off the interview she’s been pursuing for nine months? Because of a nasty cold?
Have you ever heard of a journalist who pulls shit like this? Of course you haven’t, because they don’t fucking exist. They get fired. Journalists crank out terrifying quantities of verbiage on a daily basis. The competition is fierce, even for insufferable Guardian articles about where to find the best handmade pesto in Liguria. There will always be a younger, leaner, hungrier pestophile chasing your shadow, so you’d better get down to some serious rhapsodising about pine-nuts, fucko. There’s no room for colds and flu in the cutthroat world of classic pasta sauces.
Anyway, finally we’re moving and Ana narrates her drive to the interview-she-knows-nothing-about-despite-being-roomates-with-the-journalist-for-nine-months.
My destination is the headquarters of Mr. Grey’s global enterprise.
I don’t know how she does it. It’s such a weird talent that I’m almost in awe. There can’t be many people out there who can take a simple sentence and make it look as though it has passed through the guts of a Doberman pinscher.
It’s a huge twenty-story office building, all curved glass and steel, an architect’s utilitarian fantasy, with Grey House written discreetly in steel over the glass front doors.
See what I mean?
Ana signs in and then spends the next page drawing an unfavourable comparison between herself and Christian Grey’s blonde receptionist.
She hands me a security pass that has VISITOR very firmly stamped on the front. I can’t help my smirk. Surely it’s obvious that I’m just visiting. I don’t fit in here at all. Nothing changes, I inwardly sigh. Thanking her, I walk over to the bank of elevators past the two security men who are far more smartly dressed than I am in their well-cut black suits.
Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m just relishing the prospect of spending a whole book in Anastasia’s tepid, self-loathing company.
The elevator whisks me with terminal velocity to the twentieth floor.
Not a Physics major, obviously.
The doors slide open and I’m in another large lobby – again all glass, steel and white sandstone. I’m confronted by another desk of sandstone and another young blonde woman dressed impeccably in black and white who rises to greet me.
Clearly not an English major either. This book reads like it was dictated by the author’s sat-nav. I don’t even know how it’s possible to get things this wrong.
I sit down, fish the questions from my satchel, and go through them, inwardly cursing Kate for not providing me with a brief biography.
So why didn’t you ask, dipshit? The only question she asked Kate before leaving their apartment was “Nyquil or Tylenol?” which was nice of her but not terribly helpful to her or Kate. A real friend might have reminded Kate that real journalists don’t get to have colds.
Veteran BBC journalists like Kate Adie and Orla Guerin have reported from some of the worst places in the world –Iraq, the Unholy Land, Northern Ireland during The Troubles. Kate Adie in particular tells a hell of a story about sprinting across Tiananmen Square with a videotape in her hand. People were dying all around her and there was nothing she and the camera crew could do to help them. So, in her helplessness she fixated on the videotape. This footage, she told herself, had to leave China. The world had to see this. The world had to see the truth about the massacre.
As she ran she felt something jog her elbow. The precious videotape went flying out of her hand. She scrambled to pick it up and kept on running through the bullets. It was only later, much later, after she’d filed her story, that she realised the thing that had jogged her elbow had been a bullet. She’d been winged.*
You, on the other hand?
You have a cold. Now huff some Olbas oil, pour yourself a glass of your best non-drowsy and get dressed. I’ll drive.
Of course, none of this happens because for the purposes of this book Ana needs to go to the interview and meet Christian so that she can fall in love with him from the waist down. It’s a massive, glaring contrivance. I would actually like this book better if they simply and literally bumped into one another (and their towering piles of gift parcels) while Christmas shopping in a department store.
Sure, it would be a cliché, but at least it would make sense.
I know nothing about this man I’m about to interview.
Why? Haven’t you picked up even the smallest detail from your roommate over the past nine months? Are you really that obtuse? And if you are, why the dancing pink fuck is your roommate trusting you to do this interview? I wouldn’t trust you to change the spare toilet roll. Instead of asking me which recycling bin I use for the empty cardboard tubes you’d just stand there blinking, smirking and complaining that you didn’t belong anywhere. Ugh.
He could be ninety or thirty. The uncertainty is galling and my nerves resurface, making me fidget. I’ve never been comfortable with one-on-one interviews, preferring the anonymity of a group discussion where I can sit inconspicuously at the back of the room.
Why would you send anyone this timid to conduct an interview? It makes no sense.
To be honest, I prefer my own company, reading a classic British novel, curled up in a chair in the campus library. Not sitting twitching nervously in a colossal glass and stone edifice.
We’re supposed to believe Ana wrote this. It’s a first person narrative, she’s the narrator. Ana, the English Major, is apparently responsible for these tortured, ugly sentences.
It. Makes. No. Sense.
How does a woman work her way through the canon of English Literature without picking up a single correct sentence construction? Bear in mind this is the same oblivious fucking idiot who managed to spend nine months in the company of a woman trying to arrange an interview with Christian Grey and still failed to absorb a single sodding detail – not even an overheard ‘phone call.
Nobody is this stupid. Nobody. It’s impossible. Even the philosopher Jessica Simpson posed the cosmic question “But is it chicken or tuna?”
And yet she is. Our heroine, ladies and gentlemen – she’s an insecure mouse who talks in Hallmark cards and is apparently incapable of asking simple questions like “What’s does he do for a living?” or “How old is he?”.
These aren’t qualities that are immediately attractive to the average man, but as you’ve probably heard, Christian Grey is no average man.
Oh yeah. You know what I mean.
Lube up the love-eggs and change the batteries, babies, because next time we’re finally going to meet Mr. Christian Grey.
* For more stories from Kate Adie, check out her autobiography ‘The Kindness of Strangers’.