50 Shades of Grey: Let’s Raise the Bar

If I read one more article about 50 Shades of Grey, I’m going to rip out what is left of my already thinning hair. Ladies! Are we experiencing a true and sudden famine in the creative arts? Is there a dearth of satisfying material in the erotica genre? Why are we recommending this thoroughly artless, stuttering dreck to one another? I am embarrassed for my entire gender.

If you want to read sex, pick up any carefully crafted romance or erotic novel. The good ones, and there are many, bring a sweat to the neck by page eight. By forty, the reader is panting like a hyper-stimulated teenager with an overgrowth of testosterone ready to explode like a shaken bottle of Brut.

Go to a library and browse around. The books with the ruined bindings are the erotic and romance novels. They’ve been read so many times the covers are often striated with folds, the art thoroughly worn. Gay sex, straight sex, threesomes, orgies, bondage, captivity, sadism, sex with toys, sex with foods, electrophilia, necrophilia… all the paraphilias, in fact, are represented in the romance and erotica novel genres, and represented well.

Example: The Sleeping Beauty Trilogy, by A. N. Roquelaure, also known as Ann Rice, is seething with explicit sado-masachistic rituals and fabulously lurid debauchery. In each of the three novels, both genders are debased equally and with genuinely creative vigor.  The tormentors, lascivious females often enough, pursue their own twisted sexual gratifications with a ruthlessness that, truthfully, made my cast-iron stomach turn queasy. However. What makes this book far superior to Shades of Grey is in the writing. Ann Rice clearly cares about sentence structure and word choice. Grammar, let’s remember, is the basis of good writing and no amount of relentless clitoral teasing makes up for that.

If you have a notion that romance novels are what our grandmothers read while waiting in the kitchen for a cake to set, think again. (It’s possible, come to think of it, that our grandmothers were reading the exact same erotica as we are! Not mine, of course.) High quality sex abounds in literature; whether it is set in the Victorian era, in the future, among cave dwellers or on the internet, there is something for every taste and inclination. There is, I’m glad to report, also plain old modern day sex with normal people of a certain age who may well jump up in the middle of a perfectly excellent sexual maneuver and shriek: “foot cramp!”

Romance and erotica should be written with the same dedication to craft and respect for the art of story-telling as any other good novel. There is absolutely no excuse for sloppy writing and poorly constructed prose.  Let’s raise the bar a bit. What do you say?

Lisa K. Friedman

Lisa K. Friedman's humor essays appear in newspapers and magazines.

Visit her blog at: http://dementiaforsurvivors.blogspot.com/  

Read her latest book, just released on amazon: Cruise to Retribution  

In 2008, Lisa was awarded a Masters degree in Creative Writing from the Johns Hopkins University. Her essays and fiction are widely published.  

Lisa keeps her diplomas over her washing machine, Hershey's chocolate in her nightstand, and is known for eating ice cream out of the container with a fork. She is never without a copy of Strunk and White’s Elements of Style because “you never know when you’re going to need to conjugate.” 

  12 comments for “50 Shades of Grey: Let’s Raise the Bar

  1. Jennifer
    July 31, 2012 at 11:46 am

    well said Lisa!

  2. marlene Clayton
    July 31, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    You did raise the bar, good job And I thought you were in the library studying law books, I have no idea how you know so much about erotica literature but a great hidden talent .

  3. R Nancy
    July 31, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    Here here! Couldn’t agree more. Well written article (with much humor-love the foot cramp).
    I will be honest – I haven’t read it, and thanks to The Book Report’s show, won’t be anytime soon. The host, Elaine, spoke about it, and there was a narrated excerpt, where she did say the narrator had put many audio book users off…put me off the paper version too (if still in doubt, you can listen for yourself -bookreportradio(dot)com). Regardless of whether a review site gives the thumbs up or not, I find the audio excerpts to be a helpful tool for getting the basics, and from there am quite capable of knowing if I’ll like it or not. NOT.

  4. Jill Christie
    August 2, 2012 at 10:08 am

    Really enjoy everything that I have read so far, so please keep it comming. Perhaps one day I will be motivated to post a comment. Thanks.

    P.S. Japanese Erotica is some of the most fascinating that I have encountered. The artwork from the older works is amazing, and the messages are all very subtle and subject to your own interpretation. Enjoy your research!

  5. Fredrika
    August 2, 2012 at 10:51 am

    Finally, someone said it out loud!

  6. Joyce
    August 2, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Could not agree more! I lost interest well before the book’s end and never finished it.

  7. Richard Barker
    August 3, 2012 at 7:57 am

    Don’t no much about the book, but the cramping up part yesss

  8. REBECCA FELCHNER
    August 3, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    I enjoyed this article and would like to hear more and read more!!

  9. Mindy
    August 3, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    Ahhhh !!! Lisa, you just ruined it for me, and I was really excited about reading the book that EVERYONE is speaking about..oh well I’ll let you know what I think after the fact..but thanks for your opinion..:-)

  10. edith
    August 3, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    add to the list the bible-song of songs ,etc
    you should get interesting twitter from this piece.love,mom

  11. joleen
    August 28, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    I so agree, I bought the book very excited after some co-workers had mentioned how much they had enjoyed all three books. But, boy was I disappointed, I could only force myself to read the first 20 or so pages. I also tried reading the Sleeping Beauty books, again my reactions were similar to your queasy cast-iron stomach remark. Do you have any particular authors you could recommend?

  12. Book GIrl
    December 6, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    The highly anticipated GLASS TOWERS TRILOGY is out!! The first book is HOT, HOT, HOT!!! Love me some Harrison Towers!!!
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AIE5VW0

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