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'50 Shades of Grey': Just How Smutty Is It?

Plenty, but it's also unintentionally humorous and so badly written it hurts (and not in a good way).

In keeping with the number theme in the title, here's what you need to know before buying "50 Shades of Grey."

Number of times the protagonist, Anastasia Steele, says "Crap" or "Holy Crap": 86

Number of times Anastasia refers to her lover Christian Grey and his moves as "hot" or "freaking hot": 37

Number of times a specific part of the female anatomy is referred to as "down there": 6

If fine writing is like bittersweet truffles, this book is like a wad of Gummi Bears stuck to your back teeth. To use another food metaphor — and I'm not sure this author knows what a metaphor is — it's the literary equivalent of eating Sugar Smacks for dinner.

Author E.L. James gives us the first-person perspective of a naive 21-year-old college graduate who is also — wait for it — a virgin who has never really been kissed. She is thrown into the presence of a young and extremely handsome billionaire who is powerfully attracted to her but has a dark secret life that involves riding crops, rope and something he calls "The Red Room of Pain."

Substitute vampire for billionaire (some advice to the author: billionaires generally look more like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett than Ryan Gosling) and we're right about where "Twilight" begins. It's no surprise that "50 Shades" began as fan fiction for that other nonsensical best-selling series.

Here's a little taste of James' clipped writing style:

"Why won't he look at me. Perhaps he's changed his mind? A wave of unease washes over me. Perhaps walking out on him last night was the end for him, too. He's bored of waiting for me to make up my mind. Oh no, I could have completely blown it. I remember his email last night. Maybe he's mad that I haven't replied."

The world of Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey is as believable as a fairy tale, which apparently appeals to a great many people since the book is selling faster than condoms on spring break. Anastasia keeps asking herself why she'd even consider seeing a man who wants her to sign a written contract including her willingness to be suspended from the ceiling, but somehow talks herself into more and more encounters. Her learning curve in certain departments is steep, to say the least.

As for the sex scenes, they're frequent, explicit, and full of breathy descriptions of how "hot" bondage and spanking can be. If that's all you're after, go ahead and plunk down the money. You won't be disappointed and you'll have two money-printing sequels already waiting for you.

But there is most certainly better written and less ridiculous erotica or even "mommy porn," as this has been called, out there. This is one fad you can excuse yourself from joining, unless you're looking for a good laugh.

Author E.L. James will be appearing in Connecticut at an event in New Haven sponsored by Madison's R.J. Julia Booksellers on May 2. Tickets are $25, which includes $5 toward the purchase of a book. For reservations, call 203-245-3959 or visit R.J. Julia's website.

Susan Schoenberger is an associate regional editor for Patch.com in Central Connecticut. Her first novel, "A Watershed Year," was released in March 2011.

North Havener April 28, 2012 at 09:51 PM
Michael Freda failed at many things earlier in life. It made him the FAILURE he is today as the public sees him as a finished product of his career. He's proven he can't do his job, but he does act very well and speaks well. He presents himself well to the public, but what about his job performance? During his first term he hasn't proven to us he is who he says he is. He doesn't come across as an experienced professional. He had many failures and no accomplishments, but won the election by getting special interest groups to vote him in. Mike Freda is being coached by others and even has his own speech writer. Freda is just an Actor filling a politician's shoes. He contacted people like Tony Recigno to give him a job, years ago. Mike Freda has proven himself to be of the same kind of person Tony Rescigno is. Tony Recigno is likely one of Mike Freda's mentors. Why else is Mike Freda giving Tony Recigno all this airtime of an election Tony won 22-1/2 years ago broadcast on NHTV- now? I see it as putting more of Freda's people into power. He wants us to know who Tony Recigno is before he appoints him to a position? Tony has been working with Mike Freda for many years behind the scenes, just like Mike Freda started out behind the scenes, too. They've been good friends for years and now Freda wants to reintroduce Tony Recigno to the public when I feel Tony never left Town? We've been fooled by Mike Freda more than once, so does he expect to continue playing us for fools?
North Havener May 01, 2012 at 04:36 PM
The Scandal of 2006 never ended, Brian Testa. Mr. Recigno, started it all and others joined in. Others have just picked up where it left off. What happened with New London's Mayor will happen with our Town Leadership, too. East Haven and Hamden have their problems, too. New Haven is on the list, as well. Keep listening to the news Brian Testa. Hey, no one has to agree with me. I'm sure the vast majority have their own opinions. The truth will prevail and win the battle you people started years ago, Mr. Testa. What surfaces will bring you and others to their knees. My posts were removed on account of people with Power of Authority abused their powers, because they didn't like what I had to say. I told the truth and some people couldn't accept it. The truth hurts and I will continue to express myself, Mr. Testa.
North Havener May 01, 2012 at 05:27 PM
Brian Testa, you say; And he wonders why many other outlets have stop publishing his "articles of truth". Mr. Testa, I don't have to wonder why. I know why. Thanks for pointing out that I write "article's of truth". It's because others couldn't handle the truth, so they shut me down. You incriminated yourself with your own wording, Mr. Testa and once something is said, you can't take it back. For once in your life you told the truth. I find it hard to believe after all the lies you have told in your life. I guess even Brian Testa sees my articles as "articles of truth" that not even he can accept. His buddies can't either.
North Havener May 01, 2012 at 05:47 PM
If I get shut down on the PATCH that's proof, on top of eviidence the public has already, that Town Government will do anything to protect their image, Brian Testa. What makes you think people don't know what's going on by now? Many have become victims like I have of our Town's political system working against them. Town Government has disgraced this Town from every department for many years. Maybe people didn't believe me in the beginning as I was the first to expose Town Government this way over 2 yrs ago. A lot more people believe me now than ever before and nothing is going to change their negative attitude about our Town Government. Some will remain bitter for the rest of their lives. People are spreading bad news around Town about your people. I am no longer alone in bringing down Town Government. Others share the same interest as I do and many are as mad as I am. You promised me exposure when I started writing, but the truth of the matter is I've been exposed years before I ever said anything negative about anyone. I started writing after many years of being quiet and just rolled with the punches. I needed to give Town Government the same kind of exposure they have given me, but just bring everything out in the open for everyone to read. There's just one major difference - I tell the truth and others do not. People have lied about me and badmouthed me from behind the scenes for many years. I have done positive things in my life and that hurts. It's payback time.
Anthony Karge May 01, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Gentlemen, this really isn't the place to have this discussion. I'm closing down comments on this article.

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