Tuesday, April 24, 2012

50 Shades of Garbage

When Twiblight hit, many of us who have loved every fanged exploration of joy since Bram Stoker were aggravated to hear Stephanie Meyer had invented vampires. Meyer wasn't even in the top fifty new spins. Anne Rice must have wanted to bitch slap her. (Hey Anne, if you'd still like a shot? I'll hold her arms. I'm good like that.)

It happens. One twerp hits with readers who aren't bright enough to know it's far from new... and really far from good... and you land on Good Morning, America. The problem being, bad books have a market. Cassie Edwards wrote bad, plagiarized books... but they were written for the dim-witted reader who wanted stereotypes, cheese, and a story that wasn't all complicated with scary shit like plot and character development. Give em angst, sex, and melodrama. These are the Lifetime readers, not the PBS Masterpiece Classic readers. They buy A LOT of books.

So recently, when a very badly written piece of erotica that started out as fanfic for Twifright emerged as "housewife porn," the braniacs at Good Morning America made sure dumb women everywhere got a red alert.  This bugs me. WHY do women persist in allowing themselves to be perpetually portrayed as idiots by media? ALL of the smart, thinking women I know either ignored this piece of obvious garbage, or joined the thinking gals in making fun of it. While mainstream media is STILL insisting housewives have only recently discovered books with teh sexy hidden inside, my friends and I glance at one another, then at the shelves crammed with really hot reads, and shrug. Yet a few poor, lost souls really ARE just discovering the pleasures of pleasure reading… for… you know… um… PLEASURE.

Let me say this ONCE, but let me say it EMPHATICALLY: FRIENDS DON'T LET FRIENDS READ BAD EROTICA. There is no need. There is a lot of good erotica being written, and it has been selling quite nicely for a good while now. If the notion is new to you, please step away from the Grey. Allow me to introduce you to the good stuff.

Start here... then keep going.  Click the author’s name to take a wild ride to the amazon author page:

Sasha White
Megan Hart
Kate Pearce
Nancy Madore
Eden Bradley
Portia Da Costa
Lauren Dane
Joey W. Hill
Nina Pierce
Lilli Feisty
Crystal Jordan

One author I love, but didn't find Author Pages for: Robin Schone. I KNOW I've forgotten other favorites. If you are one, or have your own recommendations, please add your own name or a fave to the comments. The more dirty books for smart women we share, the more naughty angels will get their wings!

Go. Download. Get comfy. Stock up on batteries and chocolate. It's gonna be a long, hot summer... see you in the fall.

20 comments ]:[ Add your comment:

andolyn said...

This is so true. And so sad.

Anonymous said...

Do you have a favorite? I am not sure where to start on this list!

Chrissy said...

Gads, a favorite? It would depend on what you like, really.

angel Graham said...

@Anonymous--Start with Eden Bradley's Dark Garden...then move on to Sasha White or Kate Pearce...then just go through the rest...

Also, my husband writes some very good erotica. Here is the link to his Amazon page for a single person antholgy of 8 of his BDSM stories.

It's called Quick Pieces of Kinky Smut. The submissives are strong, independent women who enjoy being subs...the Dom's are stern yet very caring.

Janice Seagraves said...

I totally agree with you.

Here's a link to my erotic book, Windswept Shores, there no doms or subs but there is good hot sex: http://www.amazon.com/Windswept-Shores-ebook/dp/B003URROMW

Pauline said...

I have been a voracious reader for a very long time, about 50 years, and have been reading erotica for quite a while. I would have to say that I'm fairly well read in the genre. I read '50 Shades of Grey' by E.L. James and loved it. LOVED it. Each of my intelligent, professional, 'mommy' friends did also, without exception. I read it months before GMA put out the 'red alert', so there was no preconceived notion for me of it being based on Twilight (which can only be said in the loosest way possible, and I didn't see it), or that it was badly written. When you read a book and you really enjoy it, it almost always has some indefinable quality, something that you can't quite put into words, but it kept you from wanting to put it down to the point that you'd lose hours of sleep over it, and when you were finished, you were left with a feeling of disappointment that there wasn't more. This was one of those books for me.

My reason for commenting wasn't really to give a review on 'Grey', although I feel your harsh criticism needed to be counteracted. The point I wanted to get across most emphatically was that I believe your post was unprofessional and unnecessary. I have always believed that authors as a community, from best-selling to unpublished, unwaveringly supported each other. I'm disappointed to know that this isn't the case.

I've listed below some of the authors that you left out that I own and have read, and would recommend to a new or seasoned reader of erotica.

E.L. James (50 Shades of Grey trilogy)
Cherise Sinclair
Eliza Gayle
Annabel Joseph
Alison Tyler
Anne Rice (A.N. Roquelaure)
Eve Berlin (aka Eden Bradley) *
Sylvia Day
Maya Banks
Shelly Laurenston
Tymber Dalton
Heather Boyd
Jasmine Haynes
Shiloh Walker
Emma Holly
Selena Kitt
Lissa Matthews
Lora Leigh
Beth Kery
Mari Carr
Saskia Walker
Jess Dee
Gail Faulkner
Kris Cook
Shayla Black
Jaci Burton
Mackenzie McKade
Evangeline Anderson
Claire Thompson
Elizabeth Amber
Lacey Alexander
Jayne Rylon
Lisa Valdez
Lorelei James
Melissa Schroeder
Vivian Arend
Sophie Oak
Nikita Black
Kelly Jamieson
Debra Glass
Kallypso Masters
Sarah McCarty
Noelle Mack
Cameron Dane
L.A. Witt
Harper Fox
Josh Lanyon
Heidi Cullinan
Ava March
K.A. Mitchell

Kindle Kandy said...

Can't imagine any woman who thinks she is intelligent defending a book that was poorly written and abusive, but lots of women defend Twilight.

This was dead on and loved every word, Chrissy!!

Chrissy said...

Thanks to everyone who has commented!

As an aside-- Pauline has a right to like things I don't. I would argue, however, that it is PROFESSIONAL, not unprofessional, to be passionate about what we think is bad.

One of the glories of education is that spine-tingling moment when, a year after earning your degree, you go back to a movie or book or piece of art you once loved and realize it's crap. Seriously, total crap. Why do I find this glorious? It means growth, knowledge, wisdom has blossomed.

One of the most common defenses of bad books? "Well, it certainly sold millions, so what do YOU know?"

McDonalds is crap food. Lots of people like it, but it's still crap. Lots of people tolerate it without loving it because it's cheap. Still crap. Nutritionists say so, but even if they didn't say so, we need to be smart enough, and cultured enough, to know crap when we see and taste it.

57 bajillion sold is not a promise to quality... it means too many people don't know how crappy that crap is.

I celebrate the body electric... I dis the crap that corrupts it.

Allana McGeary said...

Dr. Olinger, you probably don't remember me, but I took your class on Gender Expression. This reminds me of the section we did on men having open permission to be critical and women qualifying criticism. Never forgot that! Great blog!

-Allana McGeary

Chrissy said...

Of COURSE I remember you, Allana, and your beautiful baby! How is Dylan doing? Well, I hope, and I hope you keep in touch.

Still think about the paper you did on Sports television and the way men communicate in their coverage.

Pauline said...

KindleKandy, what makes you say that 50 Shades of Grey is abusive? (Which by the way is not an instruction manual, it's fiction.) And why do you have difficulty equating intelligence with defense of a book? Aside from the fact that abuse is subjective, can you say with 100% certainty that not one of the books you promote on your blog contain no "abuse" whatsoever? Did you actually read 50 Shades of Grey or Twilight?

Chrissy, of course I have a right to like things that you don't, that's not the issue here. It's certainly not that you dislike the book (if you did in fact read it) that I have a problem with. I found your blog post offensive for the following reasons. You clearly state that this book is such garbage that the only women that did like it are the unintelligent ones. You then go on to say that the intelligent women are the ones that didn't bother to read it at all. You said, "ALL of the smart, thinking women I know either ignored this piece of obvious garbage, or joined the thinking gals in making fun of it." Well, that certainly put all "57 bajillion" of us in our place, didn't it?

You tell me, as a writer, how a book can be a "piece of obvious garbage" to anyone if they don't read it?? And when did it become professional to tell others NOT to read a book (which would have enabled them to subsequently form their own opinion instead of you telling them what they should think) because of what YOU say? When did it become acceptable for "thinking gals", like you, to make fun of another author's work? To so blatantly negate the hard work that goes into writing a book, even if it's not to your liking? So when I said your comments were unprofessional, I obviously meant that it was extremely unprofessional of you to trash another author's work. I've heard many authors vent recently about just this, authors that go around telling readers not to read another author's books because they're a waste of the reader's time. I have to tell you that in all the years I have been reading, I have never, ever seen this happen. So this reader says to you again, shame on you.

Kindle Kandy said...

Chrissy being a writer doesn't mean she can't dislike something. I think Pauline is protesting an awful lot. If you are confident in your intelligence and tastes, why pick a fight? Why complain? Like it.

The McDonald's analogy is perfect.

This is not a healthy dom/sub relationship. It's an abusive dom/sub relationship. But this is also not a review, but a celebration of what is worth reading.

Pauline, it's time to grow up, maybe? You sound a lot like a woman who is very insecure about her intellect. If you think you're smart and this book is great, why worry so much about it?

Eat your french fries.

-- Carrie

Chrissy said...


I am going to ask everyone to refrain from directly dissing "Pauline." I think the private emails indicate everyone knows who this is, and that's fine.

Pauline, you are digging kind of a very deep hole by insisting I said things I did not, missing points, and undermining your own arguments by doing so. This was not a review, but just for the record, I have reviewed it, and did read it. I would not discuss it otherwise. NOWHERE have I even named the author. I hated the book because it was bad. It WAS abusive, but one has to be informed about the difference between BDSM and abuse to know that. Start here, if you are considering a BDSM relationship:

GREAT info: http://www.nlacolumbus.com/global/smvabuse.html

If your "command play" crosses into being told what and when to eat, and/or when to exercise and how much? GET OUT.

If your partner says, for instance, he is into “beating the shit out of pretty little brown-haired girls," RUN LIKE HELL.

Pauline, also for the record, I don't "clearly state that this book is such garbage that the only women that did like it are the unintelligent ones." I imply it by clearly stating that my smart friends hated it, but just to be clear, I will validate that. It may seem unkind, but I really think only a dim woman would like this piece of absolute shit. You also seem to keep mentioning that I'm an author as if that has any bearing on the discussion. It does not. And again, I did read it, or I would not have written about it.

Lastly, you stated (sort of again):
"So when I said your comments were unprofessional, I obviously meant that it was extremely unprofessional of you to trash another author's work. I've heard many authors vent recently about just this, authors that go around telling readers not to read another author's books because they're a waste of the reader's time. I have to tell you that in all the years I have been reading, I have never, ever seen this happen."

Point by point:

1. I said very little about the book, but yes, I trashed it. It's trash. My focus was on the good alternatives.
2. Authors do this all the time, and most of the google hits you'll find trashing this book will lead you to writers, many of them fiction writers.
3. When I indicate that readers who like this stuff may not be the brightest readers, maybe the fact that you keep attributing things to me that came out of your own head is not the best tactic?
4. I don't know how many years you've been reading, but if you've "never seen this happen" you have yet to read much in online book discussions... or discover goodreads.

You liked it. You keep using the word "shame." I think that's something you need to think about before typing out a long, rambling post that goes off on some pretty telling side-trips. It's a bit hard to stick up for somebody who keeps making everyone's point for them. I DID indicate you are empowered to make your own choices, just as I am. Why are you mired in this "shame" thing? Why keep indicating the book wasn't read, when it was?

Anyway, thanks for sharing your opinion. We all get to do that. :)

And Carrie, really? LOL I needed to be told?

Pauline said...

Chrissy, I didn't send you any private e-mails, so you'll have to look elsewhere for that. There was no intent on my part to being anonymous, it's the way my google account is set up. I never hide behind anonymity, it's a matter of integrity.

I've sent you a friend request on facebook, maybe move things out of this forum, at least for the moment. :D

Ahmed said...

Several "shame on you" and "unprofessional" attacks later Pauline wants to be friends.

She does that to men, too.


Pauline said...

Chrissy, I concede that there may have been some misunderstandings on both sides, so I'll try to be more clear.

We agree that we're both entitled to our opinion. Having said that, you haven't explained why you believe: "It may seem unkind, but I really think only a dim woman would like this piece of absolute shit." I know I'm intelligent, and I'm not insecure about it. I also know that I'm well read. I'm asking again, why do you think "only a dim woman would like this piece of absolute shit", when I liked it and I'm entitled to my opinion? Liking or disliking a book, a work of art, a movie or a song is a matter of personal taste. You don't get to decide for me or anyone else what I should or shouldn't like.

When I read the book it had just been released, with mostly good reviews and the description of the story. Where we hear about something or from whom influences us consciously or not as to whether we will enjoy it, or it at least contributes to the experience. If I'd read it after the media hype and a lot of bad reviews, I may not have liked it either.

You said: "It WAS abusive, but one has to be informed about the difference between BDSM and abuse to know that. Start here, if you are considering a BDSM relationship: GREAT info: http://www.nlacolumbus.com/global/smvabuse.html"

I don't know if you included this for my benefit or it was information for anyone, but I am aware of the difference between BDSM and abuse. What is not explained by the NLA is that there are different types of play, not just SSC (Safe, Sane and Consensual), which follows the rules and boundaries outlined on their site. Another type of play is RACK (Risk Aware Consensual Kink), "a philosophical view that is generally permissive of certain risky sexual behaviors, as long as the participants are fully aware of the risks. This is often viewed in contrast to Safe, Sane, and Consensual which generally holds that only activities that are considered safe, sane, and consensual are permitted. While "Safe, Sane and Consensual" (SSC) attempts to describe and differentiate BDSM from abuse in ways that are easy for the non-BDSM public to comprehend, RACK differs from it in that it acknowledges that nothing is ever 100% inherently safe. By acknowledging that what may be safe or sane to one person may not be considered the same to another, the RACK philosophy tends to be more inclusive of activities that others may consider as edgeplay. There is no "safe" or "not safe" within RACK, only "safer" and "less safe.""

You said: "If your "command play" crosses into being told what and when to eat, and/or when to exercise and how much? GET OUT."
There are different levels of control in Master/slave and Dom/sub relationships including 24/7 total control, which is why it's so important that people new to the lifestyle not only do their research, but talk to others that are in it before engaging in any BDSM play.

And: "If your partner says, for instance, he is into “beating the shit out of pretty little brown-haired girls," RUN LIKE HELL."
Again, it's not as simple as that. There are those that are into this scenario, and if it's consensual it's not abuse.

The bottom line Chrissy, is that 1) you undermined my intelligence and those of many other readers because you believe we're "dim" for liking it, 2) you didn't just give your opinion that you didn't like it, you said/suggested/implied that it should not be read by others based on that opinion and 3) you said the book shouldn't be read because it was "abusive" and then gave incomplete information about the difference between BDSM and abuse.

Ahmed said...


The only person undermining your intelligence is you.

Let it go. It's getting almost pity-worthy.


Chrissy said...

Pauline, I know you weren't part of the email to which I was referring. There are rather a lot of people participating in an online group email to which you are not a subscriber.

First off, RACK is not a type of play. Google will not get you an education.

Second, I recommend nobody read bad books. I not only approve of BDSM, I understand it. Pauline doesn't, but she also seems to indulge in a lot of "implication" that isn't there.

One of the big problems with 50 Shades is the incredible immaturity of the main character. Anna reads like a child, not a woman, and hesitates in the same way. She is not emotionally ready for ANY relationship, and may NEVER be ready for a D/s relationship. Safety requires consent by BOTH. Hesitation on behalf of either partner at ANY POINT indicates the pair are not ready. Responsible players know this and live by it: never move forward until trust is established. SAFE & SANE come first because CONSENT is impossible without them. Trust is never established in this relationship (in fact, our ditzy heroine does nothing so much as wring her hands about it) and therefore renders it outside the D/s protocols. No experienced and informed practitioner would confuse this. A Dom doesn't ask a sub to sign anything, agree to anytyhing, or even pick a safe word until both parties are ready. The one, single, tiny redeeming quality this book had were the emails, where some almost-cut-and-paste feeling things come out of Christian. What I have seen, universally, in the actual BDSM community, is a serious concern that 50 was written by a very immature writer who didn't do her homework. That notion keeps popping up, and I suspect it's because it's true.

Safe and Sane are completely ignored in this instance. In fact, Christian's constant ruminations on his screwed-upness, and Anna's immaturity and vascillating, are clear indicators that neither of them are capable of a healthy D/s relationship.

Chrissy said...

I want to make it clear to people who are not Pauline, but might read here: RACK philosophy focuses on the thrill of the risk, not the discarding of it.

Consent is NOT given when the person is coerced, intoxicated, underage, or uninformed. One can NOT assess risk without information.

The term RACK came about not as an extension of the damage it is permissable to do, but as a clarification that there is risk in the activities. It does not rewrite or discard the old rules; it attempts to clarify them. Christian identifies himself as a Dom but he isn't one. He is also portrayed as a man mired in issues, and that actually insults the D/s community. Katie Roiphe created a firestorm by misunderstanding this, feminism, and context with the Newsweek article-- which was nationally panned by several venues (from Daily Beast to NYT).

ALso, be mindful of the "K" in Risk Aware Consensual Kink -- Awareness requires sanity; consent requires sanity; kink has nothing to do with BDSM, though they may co-exist.

BTW-- my issues with this book are more about the writing than the bad D/s implications. The book is NOT a BDSM book. Most of the sex is vanilla, and the cluelessness makes it more about a broken pair trying to wade through angst to find one another. The writing is bad. The main character annoying, the "hero," simply gross, and the author acknowledging in interviews that she doesn't think it's well written is possibly the best thing I can say about her as an author. I went to school in the UK. I'm an American, with many family members in and from other countries. Anna isn't an American. She's a badly written character playing an American.

My BIGGEST issue with the BDSM aspect? Neither of the main characters is healthy, and the non-stop wallowing in their own damage implies that BDSM is for fucked up people. Fucked up people are the last individuals who should be looking for fulfillment via BDSM. I should also say that I have no problem with a Dom who threatens a sub if the sub has agreed to threat language as part of the relationship.

ALL PLAY RELIES ON TRUST. All relationships do. But with Play, we have a greater responsibility. There is a HUGE difference between a man who attempts to control one's schedule, eating habits, etc and one who may say things like "I'll beat the shit out of you" in an agreed upon, consensual, established D/s relationship and one who THINKS he is a Dom (Christian isn't), crosses all of the lines, makes threats, even describes any of that to a target. Anna is a target. She doesn't ever commit to a D/s relationship, and NO RESPONSIBLE DOM ever acts this way. A healthy D/s relationship begins with safety and trust, neither of which make a single appearance in this book.

Lastly, I almost didn't bother with this response... honestly, Pauline, you keep repeating yourself and reading into things that are not there. That concerns me as much as the "shame" language. But I can't let somebody comment on this blog with misinformation or misrepresentation that could lead to harm.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for a SANE review of this book. I'm an avid reader, but usually stick to the classics. Recently, I decided to see what all the fuss was about 50 Shades. I was very disappointed - and not just in the book. I find it very disturbing that so many women are raving about this book. That's what'll set feminism back 50 years, not the book! I'm almost ashamed to be a woman at this point.

As a teen I used to read Harlequin romances, but as I matured I grew out of them. 50 Shades of Gray make the Harlequin romances look like good literature!

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