Hand behind the pen
Erika Leonard James began her career as an author writing online fan fiction for Twilight aficionados. In fact, her best selling trilogy series, 50 Shades of Grey, was originally based in the vampire love story of Bella Swan and Edward. James had always wanted to write books that captivated wide audiences, but put her writing on hold as she raised a family and worked as T.V. producer in West London. After realizing that her erotic Twilight fan fiction had the potential to grow into something much larger, James finally took the plunge and put her pen to paper.
The first instalment of the trilogy begins with Anastasia Steele, the soon-to-be-graduate of Washington State University, finding herself in a mildly uncomfortable situation. Her roommate, Kate, is sick and cannot attend the coveted interview with billionaire Christian Grey. Acting as any best friend would, Anastasia agrees to fumble through the interview to get some material for Kate to work with for the school newspaper. Upon her meeting with Mr. Grey, Anastasia begins to recognize the previously extinguished coal of desire that rests within her and the inevitable transpires. But the road of love and lust is convoluted and multifaceted with Christian Grey. His world is a world of particular sexual taste, not limited to, but primarily involving BDSM. The inexperienced Anastasia is then faced with conflicting forces: her sub-conscious (her voice of reason), telling her that this man will never be able to reciprocate her love and her inner-goddess (her voice of desire) who is desperate to engage in previously uncharted sexual territory. Their tumultuous relationship unfolds and takes the reader into an unfamiliar world where sexual fantasy meets reality.
Why all the buzz?
There have been countless pieces of sexual literary precedents, so what is the novelty of 50 Shades of Grey? Its following could be linked to the novel’s revelation of a sexually alternative lifestyle that has long gone undisclosed. But as E.L. James’ trilogy finds prominent displays in Chapters and other bookstores, North American culture is quickly becoming familiarized with alternative sexuality. 50 Shades of Grey challenges preconceived notions about sexuality and BDSM relationships. Aside from the social impact, the book is juicy. It’s sexy , and although it is no literary masterpiece, many people around the globe just can’t put it down as they read through scenes like this:
“Before I know it, he’s got both of my hands in his vice-like grip above my head, and he’s pinning me to the wall using his lips … His other hand grabs my hair and yanks down, bringing my face up, and his lips are on mine … My tongue tentatively strokes his and joins his in a slow, erotic dance … His erection is against my belly.” (Page 78)
Or this. . .
“Sitting beside me, he gently pulls my sweatpants down. Up and down like a whores’ drawers, my subconscious remarks bitterly. In my head, I tell her where to go. Christian squirts baby oil into his hand and then rubs my behind with careful tenderness—from makeup remover to soothing balm for a spanked ass, who would have thought it was such a versatile liquid.” (277)
Or this. . .
“He sighs, slides in beside me, and pulls me into his arms. Careful not to touch my stinging behind, we are spooning again. He kisses me softly beside my ear.” (366)
Positioned in the heart of debate, 50 Shades of Grey has garnered severe criticism and is following in the footsteps of many sexually explicit narratives like Tropic of Cancer, Madame Bovary and Lolita. The aforementioned have suffered alike under the public eye of scrutiny and it appears that even texts of 21st century are not exempt. 50 Shades of Grey may be topping best-seller lists, but you won’t necessarily be able to find it in your local library. Specifically in the U.S. many libraries are choosing not to stock the books or to pull it from their shelves deeming the text sexually explicit and inappropriate material. But like anything that is denied, desire and demand for the object augments- which is exactly what has happened with E.L. James’ forbidden fruit.
P.S. On a lighter note, take a peek at Ellen’s hilarious reading of 50 Shades