Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Fifty Shades Freed, and some comments on silly writing

And so I've completed the entire sadomasochistic trilogy. Phew! To be honest, I read the last one online (someone uploaded a copy) but I checked it at the bookstore and there seems to be some differences. For example, the appendix isn't in the online copy. The bookstore staff are probably fed up I kept on going in to read without buying, but I WILL NOT spend my money on such needless rubbish. Anyway I did buy Villette,  Shirley, Mabinogion and Metamorphoses earlier this year, which is more than what many people my age buy for their own pleasure.

It starts off with the soppy marriage of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele. He still tries to control her, for example snarling when she goes topless on the beach. Though he has a point. She argues no one else can see her, but actually it seems the security team can because since her attempted assault by her ex-boss, they've been keeping an eye for any potential intruders. A long diatribe on the luxury goods and food they enjoy on holiday. It might as well be an advertisement for some luxury holiday package. I wouldn't be surprised if some of these holiday places offer EL James a lot of money to be their spokesman, since she's popularised luxury living.  I bet you that was her intention, the greedy old cow.

The food descriptions are the only softeners to the blow. Here's a menu of the Fifty Shades series. Some chef decided to capitalise on the book by preparing a meal similar to the one in the book.

Grey acts like a tyrant, over concerned with his wife's security and she is discontented. This book is darker than the previous. Ordinarily that would be a good thing, but darkness is only good for intelligently written books. Stupid authors I feel should confine themselves to comedy and caricature.

There's also the question whether she should change her name. She wants to retain her maiden name, or people will say she got where she is because of her husband, but he wants her to use his name. By the way she has been promoted after the departure of her ex-boss.

In the meantime, her ex-boss Jack Hyde wants to get even. He kidnaps Grey's sister Mia, and calls Anastasia asking for $5 million in ransom. I'm surprised he doesn't ask for more, since her husband is loaded. But she's not allowed to tell anyone about this. So Ana goes to the bank to withdraw from her husband's account. Unfortunately 5 milion being a lot the bank is suspicious so they call Grey, who agrees to let out the money.

The thing is Grey thinks his wife wants to leave him. Ana goes to the meeting spot where she is taken away and Hyde tries to attack her. But she's done the smartest thing she's done so far. She borrowed someone else's phone to take with her, which the kidnappers confiscated. In the bag of money she put her own phone, which can be tracked by Christian.

While the kidnappers are being violent, Grey comes over and the criminals are taken away. One of them was Hyde's junior, who had an affair with him. He had had affairs with all his personal assistants and blackmailed them into helping him and saying he's good. What a horrible man.

Anyway things are resolved about Grey and Ana and they all live happily ever after.  In the epilogue they have 2 children, and there's an appendix after that which details how Grey got his information on Ana. It's written in his point of view, which reminds me of Stephanie Meyer's former intention to publich Twilight from Edward's point of view. Thankfully someone released the draft of Midnight Sun online so SMeyer decided not to publish. Whoever the leaker was, I salute him for saving our brains from more slush and the trees from more cutting.

I have a bone to pick with those silly female authors who keep on using their initials. One would suppose they're ashamed of being women. Not only is this irrelevant in today's day and age, it is a travesty to other women authors. Many intelligent female novelists spell out their first names, and the same for male novelists. Using your initials was more popular in the early 20th century, and it gave a quaint, aloof, intellectual air (possibly because a number of them were used in intelligent books or nonfiction. I think even back then good novelists liked to spell out their first names, except Tolkien and EM Forster). But we can agree that back then initials were a masculine thing and more likely to be intelligent. Like on treatises or something. Even some clever women used their initials eg Edith Nesbit. Not only does it give the first impression you're a man, it is insulting to the old intellectual figures of yore. I can't understand why silly female novelists use 2 initials before their surname. I can only suppose they think (like me) that initials look intellectual, and so adopt it. I won't buy the crap about being discriminated because they're female. No, they know their works are silly and attempt to disguise it by posing as a pseudo-man, because subconsciously they think that masculinity is clever or perceived as clever. (JK Rowling is exempted from this). At least silly male authors use their first name like everyone else and don't act like a hypocrite pretending to be intellectual. I have now come to the conclusion if I see a modern work of fiction with initials it is written by a woman, and not an intelligent work.

Mind you there's some truth that masculine female authors are good. I don't mean tomboyish or lesbian or those who write mainly about men, but adrogynous. The best literature is not exceedingly feminine or masculine, but somewhere in the middle. There are some exceptions (the Brontës and Jane Austen) but even I question the validity of this. They are obviously written by women, but the style of the writing is such that it is not so easy to tell whether a man or woman wrote it. They might even have been written by perceptive men.  Even contemporary male and female literary novelists do not sound too different. But when you get to cheap chick lit and terrible thrillers you can tell the gender quite easily, and they are examples of extreme male and female writing. JK Rowling, who isn't great literature (though a classic) at least doesn't write in too feminine a manner.

Charlotte, whose passions were feminine, was mistaken for a man by some, and though her style was feminine to me, the Victorian standards were different. So much passion and questioning and ideals are often the sort of things we associate with sensitive men.  Apart from the formality of the times, the Victorian man described things with a feminine touch, and idealised friendship. They were also pretty good at writing conversation. Great literature depends on the author's ability to perceive different characters and write them convincingly, which has a wide range of genders, which is why they have to be adrogynous. Mrs Gaskell was excellent in writing both men and women, and so was Jane Austen. Charlotte Brontë is said to have been bad with male characters, and so she was, compared to the great female novelists. But compared to the minor female novelists you see she wasn't that bad at all. Her fault lies in her heroes, who are often over-idealised; give her a minor ordinary male character and he is quite believable. Mr Yorke, some parts of Robert Moore, Mr Helstone and Mr Hall were immediately recognised as real persons in her district. She hardly knew the original men but drew them well. It was when she had some imaginary man in her mind that she had a problem. This fault is common among female novelists (and idealised heroines among male novelists), so we will forgive them because their side characters are so lovable. George Eliot's heroes are not good, but her other male characters are remarkably so, for a woman of her time. Perhaps she wasn't as good as Jane Austen and Mrs Gaskell, but George Eliot was more daring because she probed into the personal lives and thoughts of these men, unlike the other two. If the others had attempted to do the same I'm sure they would have had some problems like the rest of us.

Perhaps I'm harsh. These initialled authors may have a point, because thrillers are generally more intelligent than chick lit, though I wouldn't call them cerebral. (this is true, because romance outsells thrillers.)  I do know thrillers stimulated my mind more than chick lit ever did. Chick lit always put me into a drowsy daze and lowered my IQ. But I'm sure we can all agree female novelists are better at male characters than male novelists at female character (especially good literature).

Speaking of writing styles, I put some of my fiction into Gender Guesser and I came up mostly Weak Male or quite often Weak Female. I thought my writing was feminine, but I do use old-fashioned phrases, which can be mistaken for masculinity. (I attempted to prove this by putting in a Victorian female novelist's work. The results predicted male. When I wrote something modern in a more adrogynous manner I got female I believe which shows you how flawed these algorithms are.) The good news is, after a series of Weak Male results, I am now Weak Female. My writing is now simpler which is the likely cause. It is quite ironic, because those days I couldn't write male characters well, and now my male characters are better. In fact, my lecturer in creative writing was hoping to hear more about my hero, and my male classmates seemed to like him. It was the girls who were puzzled by his character.  On the contrary my heroine fared less well. I refused to idolise my hero: he is flawed (not in the Rochester way) but in the way I hope shy intellectual men can relate to. Of course I cheated: I borrowed a great deal from my biographies - Tennyson and Keats and Darwin. The heroine I fear was borrowed from Charlotte Brontë. I do this because I must write real characters who lived in that era, and studying contemporary persons wouldn't fit the context. I can't empathise with my own era, but Victorian characters come alive to me.

Oh, and some silly author decided to write a porn version of Jane Eyre after the success of Fifty Shades called Jane Eyre Laid Bare, which sends rather disturbing images to my mind. The whole power of Jane Eyre is the unfulfiment of their passion and the impossibility of it. Anyway there are so many porn Jane Eyres in the market (one of the better known is JL Niemann's Rochester). JL Niemann's book is a shame to Charlotte, but the plot is better, if melodramatic and overdone, than most of these so-called sequels.  They do mention art and some intellectual things in the novel which is unusual for romance/erotica. But it will never be a classic.

I can even guess what will come out in a Jane Eyre porn novel. It is likely to deal with the marital relations of Jane and Rochester after marriage. Or, if they are irreverant, it will be a travesty to 19th century manners, and Jane and Rochester have it off before they marry. There will be lurid descriptions of Rochester's bare muscles I can tell you, and how he looks like in tight trousers, as they had in those days. The conversations will deal with their immense desire to remove each other's items of dress. Any intellectual or soul-searching conversation will not exist, and you wonder what was the fuss about the kinship between their souls. Jane will miraculously become beautiful (!!!) and so will Rochester. Everyone will fawn over Jane and she will be popular in the neighbourhood, a travesty to the shy heroine in Charlotte Brontë's original.

And if any reader out here objects to my slant on chick lit, if you don't like my post don't read it. I believe we are all free to express our intellectual opinions. Like if you think George Eliot is dull, fine with me.

3 comments:

  1. I can't wait to see Anastasia Steele in the movie Fifty Shades Of Grey

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you so much for the wonderful book! I finished it a few days ago and cannot get it out of my head. It is pure magic. It was everything I hoped it would be and much more. ...
    the movie fifty shades

    ReplyDelete
  3. Lovely characters Christian and ana.... Movie soon release...
    Movie Fifty shades

    ReplyDelete