Well-written literary junk food is a fantastic palate cleanser for people whose job it is to read a lot of nonfiction. When you throw sex into the mix — especially forbidden sex — you’ve got entertainment plus the antidote to becoming a snob who wants to look down on whatever is trendy in popular literature.
Unfortunately, Fifty Shades of Grey isn’t a book that can do that for a lot of people. Ana’s inner monologue bogs down the story so badly that she quickly becomes detestable, and an erotic novel with a rather pathetic narcissist for a heroine just isn’t worth the opportunity cost of reading it. And for a lot of people — maybe a lot of people in their 20s like me — it will feel a little bit creepy, as if they’re reading their grandma’s sex diary. The dialogue doesn’t sound like the recent college grad Ana is supposed to be.
So why has the book gotten so popular? Well, there are a lot of good, patient people out there, and they’re horny. If you’re able to suspend judgment of the awful writing and glacial pace, the plot has the bare bones of an excellent dirty, sexy story — so much potential spoiled by terrible writing! If you gave the outline to a decent student of creative writing and asked her to rewrite it, it could end up solid masturbatory material for all.
EW is having a Smutt-Off, a contest to see what sort of dirty, erotic stories are lurking in the minds of Eugeneans. Send us a 500-word story that captures everything Fifty Shades doesn’t, and we’ll publish the winner in print, plus runners up on our website.
You have until June 28. May the best dirty, depraved soul win.
Send entries to firstname.lastname@example.org