I have no desire to read Fifty Shades of Grey but it’s in the media and social media so much at the moment that you can’t escape it. I am really interested to see what people think of Fifty Shades of Grey and that’s the reason I decided to read this book. Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey does exactly what it says on the tin. Fifty authors share their thoughts about the book. Some love it, some hate it, some are indifferent, but many people acknowledge that it’s done a lot to bring sex into the public forum. A debate on whether or not it’s done good things in bringing BDSM into the public forum is a different matter.
One thing that I really enjoyed about the book was that it really did showcase different opinions across a wide spectrum of people. Authors, counsellors, a lawyer, publishing insiders, sex industry insiders. This was a very comprehensive look at what has become the title on everyone’s lips.
There are a couple of things that come up as clear concerns when reading this volume. One is that James has brought sex into the public forum. Not that we didn’t talk about sex but it is now apparently acceptable to talk about being tied up while having your manicure. However, this book has also brought BDSM into that same forum and James comes under some considerable criticism for
1. Getting some technical details wrong that could actually make techniques dangerous if copied by beginners to BDSM
2. Inferring that the only reason Christian Grey is really interested in BDSM is because of a troubled past making him a damaged man, thereby making this seem unhealthy (great press for it!)
3. Equally inferring that if Ana is able to fix him his desire for BDSM will abate
I’m not here to do a critique of Fifty Shades of Grey. That would be unfair about a book I have not read. However, the fact that these criticisms came up more than once during the volume is concerning. Another concern which appears more than once is that somehow Christian Grey’s stalkerish behaviour during the course of the novel is portrayed as sexy. Yes, we can argue that it is fictional and fantasy but there are concerns. Given how many copies of the book have now been sold, some people may come to think that this is acceptable behaviour, that this is a sign of love and not something more sinister and controlling.
However, another point repeatedly made is that without this book it may not have become so acceptable to buy erotic fiction, read erotic fiction, talk about erotic fiction and talk about sex. In that respect many people acknowledge that James has done a great thing with this genre, even if they don’t all accept that the book is good or good writing, they accept that it has got people talking, buying and reading erotic fiction.
So has reading Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey made me inclined to read it myself? No. But it certainly was fascinating. Perhaps it would be fair to read Fifty Shades of Grey and then I could base my opinion on the book rather than this book but the words of fifty authors and countless others have yet to convince me. This volume, however, is an excellent read.Copy received from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. Review originally published on Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dave.