Tuesday, July 2, 2013

50 Shades of the Complainist: Chapter 10

Ana and Christian drive back to Ana's house. 

Warnings: Hell, I dunno. Christian probably threatens to rape Ana at some point? Look, guys. This is hard. 

I'm kind of dreading writing about this chapter because it poses a dilemma. The whole thing's so pointless that I'm kind of stuck talking about either everything or nothing and I'm worried that I'll accidentally end up talking about everything. At least the sex chapters have a certain narrative logic. Not to be needlessly crass, but sex scenes move towards, you know. A "climax." They go somewhere. Now that we're out of the sex chapters for a while, we're stuck with just a lot of bullshit meandering while we wait around to figure out if Ana will either a) sign CG's sex contract or b) "cure" him of BDSM. It's sad that, while there are two possible outcomes that the novel hints at, they're both really the same. They both involve Ana and CG being in wuv forever and ever, and with no conflict on offer besides the simple fact that Ana is dumb and boring and CG is a shitbag, there's not much reason to keep reading, is there?

Oh, right! My hilarious jokes! Phew. Good thing. Forgive me if I'm a bit off my game. I gave myself a week or so vacation. Hard to say exactly how long, because time spent with EL behaves differently from normal time. It really can warp your perception. For instance, at this point Ana and CG have known each other thirteen days. They met on May 9, and it is now May 22, and this is this particular weekend marks the first substantial amount of time they've spent together. Wild, right? Doesn't it seem like we've been putting up with them for weeks? Oh, right. Because I've been writing these things for weeks and you've been reading them.

Some notes on readership:
Hey so thank you for reading! Writing (especially the way I do it, or fail to do it) can be a real lonely exercise. This is particularly true since most of the time I spent "writing" is actually time spent wondering what's the point of it all anyway and probably I should really just see if there's anything new and clever on twitter that's worth looking at and no there isn't but what if I hit refresh and now the answer is still no but now if I hit refresh well then we'll have something won't we? No? Still no?

But yeah: Chapter 1 has reached the better side of 300 clicks, which is terribly exciting. There's a drop-off after that, such that most of my other chapters are peaking a bit over 100, which is smaller, but still great, and I don't expect anything else I've ever written has been read by a hundred people and thank you.

Please note that these chapters are going to continue appearing each Tuesday, in the middle of the night, ready for you Tuesday morning. Facebook has tricky, complicated rules, which means that if you're Facebook friends with me, you're not guaranteed to see my chapter announcements on Tuesdays. I think Facebook has some secret algorithm where they look at your profile and mine next to each other and then decide if we're really friends based on whatever, and then selectively chooses what to share and what to not share.

So, remember that Tuesday is the day, and a new chapter will indeed be up when it's a Tuesday, until all the chapters are done. This will take exactly a half-year, give or take, so no rush!

You are also free to subscribe to me on Facebook if you haven't done so already. My Facebook presence is a bunch of whines, plus chocolate store / stereo store anecdotes, plus my utterly amateur soccer analysis. In other words: it's loads of fun if you find people complaining about things to be loads of fun.

I've also added a single little page to link to each individual page in the series, just to keep things a little better organized.

And, I added blogger's little "subscribe by email" thingy because everyone has email. Everyone in the whole world, except for Anastasia Steele.

But again, thanks for reading.

So where were we?

  1. Ana meets Christian, the dreamy billionaire, for an awkward interview. 
  2. She then encounters him a few days later when he buys supplies for his sex dungeon at the hardware store where she works. Ana gets his phone number and decides to help her friend Kate set up a photo shoot with CG because that somehow makes more sense than just seeing if he wants to hang out like a regular person. 
  3. Ana's admirer José joins Ana and Kate to photograph Christian, after which Christian takes Ana to a cafe, where they both act awkward. Christian starts to push Ana away, for reasons she does not understand. Then, Ana is nearly hit by a bike, but Christian yanks her out of harm's way.
  4. Christian tells Ana that they're incompatible and she gets sad. Ana drunk-dials Christian and he freaks out and traces her phone Batman-style, just in time to chase off José, who's acting rape-y. Ana passes out at the bar.
  5. Ana awakes in Christian's hotel room. Christian explains that he brought her there because he didn't want her to puke in his car. He says that they can't take things further until he's explained his secrets, so they arrange a helicopter ride together to Seattle and make out in an elevator.
  6. Ana and Christian fly to Seattle in a helicopter. Ana signs a non-disclosure agreement and then opens up the door to the sex dungeon.
  7. Ana and Christian tour the sex dungeon and we see some of his much-discussed paperwork, which is an agreement far more all-encompassing than, say, a typical marriage, even though they met less than two weeks ago. CG gets super angry when he learns that Ana is a virgin. 
  8. Ana and Christian have sex and later, when Ana wakes up, CG is playing a piano because he has a case of the feels.
  9. The next morning Ana cooks breakfast and then they have sex in the bath and then in the bed and then Christian hears his mom talking to his manservant, Taylor. 
Let me just share with you the way that this chapter begins:

He pulls out of me suddenly. I wince. He sits up on the bed and throws the used condom in a wastebasket.
"Come on, we need to get dressed--that's if you want to meet my mother." He grins, leaps up off the bed, and pulls on his jeans--no underwear! I struggle to sit up as I'm still tethered.

I do have a few issues with this. 
  1. Again, EL with the over-sharing! Do we need this part where he throws out the condom? Why not go all the way and go into great detail about the wastebasket, right? What's it look like? Does it match the rest of the interior of the room? Oh and now that I'm thinking about it I have no idea what sort of condoms CG goes for. Seems important! Seriously, though: we don't need this part, EL. We'll just accept that, at some point, the condom was removed, and not spend the rest of the chapter being like, "Oh, hey, is he still wearing that French letter?" (I prefer weird old timey slang for condoms. That's how I ask for them at the Kwik-E-Mart. "Oh, and a pacquet of French letters, please. Yeah, the lubed ones. Thanks.") Oh, and also: go ahead and throw that away in your bathroom, CG. In fact, just don't have a trash receptacle in your bedroom at all, okay?
  2. Of course she doesn't want to meet your mother! Fellas: we've all been in this situation. You've got a lady caller over, and you've just done sex to her, and she's still tied up by your special sex necktie. And then, wouldn't you know it, but your mom comes over, unannounced, without calling or anything, and she gets all the way into your apartment without you knowing until she's right outside your bedroom door. Sorry--correction. Nobody has ever been in this situation ever. But, if any of you ever do, somehow end up in this situation, let the lady just kind of hang out, you know? Don't make her meet mom. Mom can wait for later. Nobody, mom included, wants this meeting to happen. Mom doesn't need to know that a condom was recently discarded. CG should just pop out and talk to mom, get rid of her fast as he can, and let Ana wait to meet mom at a less wildly-inappropriate moment. 
But, of course that's not how things go down. CG is all about Mama Grey, it would seem! So, he unties Ana. The tie is cutting off her circulation but, like, in a sexy way. How sexy? "The woven pattern has made an indentation around my wrists. It's . . . sexy." Show don't tell, EL! 

CG is way, way happy, which is a little weird. He's super excited to see his mom. (No Oedipo!) This would make me way nervous if I were Ana, but then, if I were Ana, CG's earlier actions would've already blown out my nervousness circuit and left me a smoking pile of circuit boards. (Editor's note: Alden is a robot from a 1960s movie.) Also, my most careful reader suggests that maybe Ana should push for an amendment to the sex-slave Bill of Rights: "No stuff with my mom" would be a very sensible and, frankly, necessary addition to CG's list of hard limits. 

Here's a thing that happens, which no one understands:

"Another first," he acknowledges, but I have no idea what he's talking about. 

Us neither! So, moving on, I guess? Ana protests, quite sensibly, and notes her lack of clean clothes. I do think this sentence is funny, though: "I have no clean clothes in here." "In here" suggests that she might have some nearby, just in a different room. Of course, she does not. 

Christian tells her "You can wear something of mine," and then he "runs his hand through his just-fucked hair" and I have nothing new to say about what a terrible phrase that is. But also, no, don't tell Ana to borrow your clothes! If you do drag her out to meet mom (again: ew) at least let her have the pretend dignity that goes along with wearing her own clothes. It'll still be a little walk-of-shame-y, but everybody can awkwardly pretend that everything is normal. But if Ana comes out wearing CG's shirt, everyone will know that there's been some risky business going on. 

Get it? Risky Business? Right? 
CG does that thing again where he has to quit being nice and be a dick again. He tells Ana she's all pretty or whatever, and then this: "His mouth presses into a hard line. 'I will expect you in that room in five minutes, otherwise I'll come and drag you out of here myself in whatever you're wearing.'" She should take off all her clothes as some sort of weird protest. 

Once again, I have to wonder why CG keeps begging for Ana to agree to an "arrangement" when he already bosses her around. She gets no say in the matter; Ana and Mama Grey are going to meet. 

Luckily for CG, Ana always just wants whatever he wants, so there's never a real conflict. Ana says "no," and then CG acts like a dick for a minute, and then Ana is all, "oh, actually, I really meant yes." As she gets dressed, she thinks, "Might help me understand why Christian is the way he is . . . Suddenly, I want to meet her." 

Well, that was convenient!

Alden's rules for writers:
Here's one: whenever you're writing anything, periodically hit ctrl-F and search for the word "suddenly" and delete it everywhere that it appears. Wedging in the word "suddenly" never makes it seem like something is happening suddenly. It always feels a little bit like a lie. Here, for instance, we see Ana gradually warm to the idea of meeting Mama Grey throughout the paragraph, and then after it's pretty clear that she's fine with it, we get "Suddenly, I want to meet her." Wasn't sudden at all. 

Here would be a more honest rewording of that sentence: "Christian's threat of humiliation conflicts with my own desire not to embarrass myself in front of his mom. This causes cognitive dissonance, which my brain resolves by letting me convince myself that maybe meeting her wouldn't be so bad after all." Much better. I mean it's not good prose, but it's more honest. 

She gets dressed, but there's a problem! "But if there's one thing I hate, it's not wearing clean panties." If there's one thing I hate, it's being kidnapped. If there are two things I hate, those two would be kidnapping, and having some asshole boss me around all the time. But yeah, whatever. I guess that underwear thing makes sense, kinda. Also, somehow CG poked his fingers through her underwear last night, so yeah I'd throw that pair out, too, if I were her. 

This mutterblushing book! Ok, so they flew to CG's place in Seattle the previous night at 8PM and it took an hour. It should've been obvious from the start that this was going to be a sleepover date. You don't go from Portland to Seattle at night, and then return to Portland that same night. It's kind of impossible, unless you're going to, what, take two separate helicopter trips within about three hours of each other? So Ana is playing off this no-clean-clothes thing as though it were some kind of crazy accident, even though it was completely premeditated. Whatever. 

"I rifle through Christians chest of drawers and come across his boxer briefs. After pulling on a pair of tight gray Calvin Kleins, I tug on my jeans and my Converse."

Did you get that? This is where we step a little further into the fantasy genre. See, there are these magical boxer briefs that fit both CG and Ana snugly. Same pair! Cool, right? So basically, this is like the BDSM Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. (Editor's note: that's probably kind of funny to the two or so people who know anything about Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Special treat just for you!)

Seriously, though: that's weird. This is kind of like when Ana thought it was sexy to use CG's toothbrush, and I was all "nope." Same idea. 

Ana freaks out in front of the mirror, as she is wont to do. And then goes to meet mom.

And mom is great or whatever. "She's impeccably attired in a camel-colored fine knit sweater dress with matching shoes." Does that help you get a picture of Mama Grey at all? Doesn't help me. Dunno why her shoes match her dress. Kind of weird, actually, particularly since we learn that MG (Mama Grey) is "sandy-haired." So I'm imagining her as kind of a beige blur. But also I think of sweater dresses as being kind of short, right? Maybe a little young for MG? EL has this way of offering lots of descriptive words while failing to actually help the reader come up with any kind of mental image of the thing being described. Whatever.

The MG's real name is Grace Trevelyan-Grey, which is the worst name of anyone in any book ever. "Grace Grey" is like a boring comic book name. Maybe Grace Grey could be Jean Grey's mom. But then you cram "Trevelyan" in the middle and the whole thing is just a train wreck. Ana is excited, though! Remember when we learned that "Charlie Tango" was CG's shitty rich-guy nickname for his helicopter? But we didn't know what the "T" stood for? And also we didn't care? Ana makes a connection. A connection so powerful that it can't be handled by regular letters. NO! This calls for italics. "T . . . for Trevelyan? His initial." The way this bit of information is offered to us makes it feel like an important clue. Like, now Ana can solve the Mystery of the Flying Express because she knows the guy's middle name. (Editor's note: that's a Hardy Boys reference. You're welcome. Really hitting the classics of children's literature today.)

"What a pleasure to meet you," she murmurs. If I'm not mistaken, there is wonder and maybe stunned relief in her voice and a warm glow in her hazel eyes.

Ugh. Yes. A murmur of wonder and stunned relief. We all know how that sounds. No, but seriously--Ana is reading a lot into a six-word greeting, right? Also, every book that says what color everyone's eyes are is a terrible book. 

Hey remember when I said this earlier? "The whole thing's so pointless, that I'm kind of stuck talking about either everything or nothing and I'm worried that I'll accidentally end up talking about everything." That younger version of me, from a couple hours ago, really knew what he was talking about, because I can't help but talk about every goddamn line in this thing. 

"Dr. Trevelyan-Grey," I murmur.
"Call me Grace." She grins, and Christian frowns. "I am usually Dr. Trevelyan, and Mrs. Grey is my mother-in-law." She winks. "So how did you two meet?" She looks questioningly at Christian, unable to hide her curiosity.

So, we get consecutive murmurs. That's fun. I really wish someone would just show up and shout all the time, for contrast. Then we get the dumbest-ever version of that thing where people tell you to use their first name. That thing always seems super fake because, oh yeah, this is America, where this book is set, and that's a place where people tend to use each other's first names. Also, it's confusing. When I read "Mrs. Grey is my mother-in-law" I'm tricked into thinking there's some complicated relationship going on here, but, in fact, it's quite ordinary. It's simply that the barrage of pointless information has made something simple seem complicated.

Here's the part that made me copy this in for you, though: "She looks questioningly at Christian, unable to hide her curiosity." Unable to hide her curiosity, indeed! Hey you know one way to find out if a person is curious or not about a topic is to listen to see if they ask any questions about that topic. DGTG is not trying to hide her curiosity! She's expressing her curiosity in the most direct manner possible! By asking a question! You guys get me, right? How can anyone put up with this terrible writing? Also, she turns toward CG before the question, but that action isn't given to us until later. If a character is going to switch from speaking to person A to speaking to person C within a single paragraph, you really gotta give us some indication of the switch before it happens to avoid confusion as to where speech is directed. I don't need to tell you this, though. I need to go back and time and tell EL. Or, better yet, just go back and time and grab a dinosaur, because--whatever. I don't have to explain myself. 

"Anastasia interviewed me for the student paper at WSU because I'm conferring the degrees there this week."
Double crap. I'd forgotten that.

Forgotten what? What the hell is Ana's problem here? Ugh. I have to graduate college. Totally forgot! But yeah, turns out that's a thing I have to do. No idea what's going on here. None. 

Ana's phone rings and she runs after it. Believing she has psychic powers she decides not to look at who's calling and instead just assumes that it's Kate and of course it's José instead. And he says "Dios mío! Ana!" because he's Mexican maybe? Well. We don't know where he's from but we do know that he's from one of those places where they say Dios mío! just all the time, right? Ana gets rid of him quickly; their conversation is completely pointless.

So, I might add, is the rest of Ana's time with Mama Grey. She is introduced on page 145 and leaves on 147. There was a hint of tension when Ana was hurrying to get dressed to meet her, but only a hint, and it was short-lived. A good writer would have either a) done something with the fact that Ana was literally tied up and given us a scene that was awkward and fun or b) skipped the mom part because it was pointless and served nothing.

Speaking of pointless parts that serve nothing, we get some more of CG doing some of his pretend "business" dealings. This is more stuff about a shipment to Darfur. Oh, did you guys forget that CG is fixing everything up in Darfur? Cool right? Probably made all his billions sending humanitarian aid to Darfur. Story checks out.

So cool. Then CG reminds Ana of the contract, hassles her for expressing the need to make a phone call, and they get ready to drive back to Ana's apartment. This involves taking an elevator to his Jay Leno-style garage full of cars. In the elevator, CG says this to Ana, which is fun: "Stop biting your lip, or I will fuck you in the elevator, and I don't care who gets in with us." OMG guys so romantic!

CG begrudgingly agrees to let Ana talk about sex with Kate. "'But only about what we've done so far,' he warns. 'She'd probably have my balls if she knew what I wanted to do to you,' he adds so softly I'm not sure I'm supposed to hear it." Yeah you probably weren't supposed to hear, Ana! Probably CG started out by talking to you, but then switched to saying some stuff that he didn't want you to know about, just like people do sometimes.

This reminds me: what is it that Christian wants to do, exactly? One of the ways that CG makes BDSM sound pretty unpleasant is by never mentioning any of the stuff that Ana (or anyone!) might find sexy. The only parts of the contract we know about are the parts where Ana gets told that she has to exercise and wear what CG wants and basically do whatever he says. Oh! And the part where he's like, "Don't worry! I won't light you on fire!"

For fun, let me try to describe a meal in the same way:
Well, you do have to eat it with a knife and fork. I'm very strict about that. You must not use a spoon, and I insist that you eat with a napkin on your right knee. Also, I promise I didn't spit in your food.

Well, when you put it that way--sounds great! And when I say "put it that way" I mean "leave out pretty much all detail." Ana could really use an executive summary of BDSM. Just a quick little one-page overview. If CG had offered her such a summary along with the contract, this book could easily be a hundred pages shorter. He should really think about adding that into his dungeon "welcome" packet for next time.

Then he murmurs how much he's looking forward to Ana not "defying" him anymore, and Ana and I are both confused about this since he always does what she wants all the time. Maybe she's following all his instructions in a defiant way, somehow?

Here's what Ana says about CG's car. Well, one of his cars: "It's one of those cars that should have a very leggy blonde, wearing nothing but a sash, sprawled across the hood." Wait, what? What the hell kind of car is that? Does Ana secretly subscribe to Lowrider magazine? (Editor's note: it took Alden like, three separate google searches to find a magazine that might, in fact, run a photo of a very leggy blonde in nothing but a sash sprawled across the hood of a car. The only problem is that it's hard to imagine that CG would own a lowrider. (Executive editor's note: how baller would it be if he did have a lowrider, though?)) 

The car is some kind of convertible Audi because CG has a thing for Audis and also I'm trying really hard to not flip out over all the dry murmuring. Also: if you google "murmur dryly" like I just did, all the hits are quotations from this dumb books or quotations from fanfic 50 Shades wannabes. It's almost like a copyright Easter egg. Have you heard of those? I learned recently that mapmakers will sometimes but little fake details into maps so that they can find out if other mapmakers are copying them. If you ever read about a character murmuring dryly in a book, you're reading a book by somebody who loves EL James and thinks she's an author work emulating and you should quit reading that book and then feel embarrassed.

"It's an Audi R8 Spyder. It's a lovely day; we can take the top down. There's a baseball cap in there. In fact there should be two." a) Notice how CG starts two sentences with "It's" and each one is using "It" to mean something different and that's some weak writing. b) It's weird when people speak in semicolons. c) Just pointing out again that CG keeps a pair of extra Mariners hats in his glove compartment. For when he puts the top down on his convertible. This will be extra-funny to you if you are at all familiar with the Mariners and how they are not good at winning baseball games.

Bruce Springsteen is their driving music. Sorry you ended up tied up in this mess, Bruce. "I flush as I listen to the words." Sure, yeah. Totally natural and not even a little bit super weird. Sometimes, listening to Bruce even makes my blood pool down there. 

Soon CG's mouth is tightening into a hard line and he's hassling Ana about not eating again. This makes sense since it's probably lunch time or something and he hasn't hassled her about food since their previous meal. They can't eat at any sort of regular restaurant. They have to eat at some bullshit one where they pick your dinner off trees or something and it's in Olympia obviously. I shouldn't really complain about the restaurant--it's the most plausible northwest thing EL has included in the book so far. Here's some stuff for you to enjoy:

The waitress takes our drinks order. She flushes when she sees Christian, avoiding eye contact with him, hiding under her long bangs. She likes him! It's not just me!
"Two glasses of the Pinot Grigio," Christian says with a voice of authority. I purse my lips, exasperated.
"What?" he snaps.
"I wanted a Diet Coke," I whisper.
His gray eyes narrow, and he shakes his head.
"The Pinot Grigio here is a decent wine. It will go well with the meal, whatever we get," he says patiently. 

  1. Look how weird the timeline is here. That first sentence I quoted is what screws it up. "The waitress takes our drinks order." You read that, and then you're like, oh, we're moving on to some post drink-ordering situation. But, no. EL frequently breaks with the typical conventions of present-tense. You know--that way of writing where you talk about stuff that's happening presently and not some other time. Changing the opening to "The waitress arrives to take our drinks order" would fix things up. The mistakes that are the easiest to fix are the ones that bother me the most.
  2. So when does the waitress leave? We get the dumb part where she flushes and Ana is all OMG it's like I'm looking back at my own self! but then it's unclear when she splits. The way the scene is paced, there's nothing to suggest that she peaces out right after CG orders the pinot greezsh, which means there's nothing to suggest that she doesn't also hear Ana says she wants a Diet Coke. 
  3. It'd be actually kind of great if the waitress who's all trying to steal CG away got to be all like, "Uhm, we don't have diet Coke. Would you maybe like a house-made kola nut sparkling infusion water or maybe a pomegranate kombucha?" because that's the kind of thing that this place would probably have. I mean, this is a restaurant that only cooks "whatever they've caught or gathered" so they don't have diet Coke. Oh wait did they catch the pinot greezsh or did they gather it? Dumpster-dive? Whatever. 
  4. CG sounds all weird talking about wine. "The Pinot Grigio here" is not what a person would say. This is not a restaurant he goes to regularly, so he doesn't have their wine list memorized. He's looking at a menu, and instead of saying, "The Mellisoni Pinot Grigio is great," like a regular person, he says "The Pinot Grigio here" and that's what you'd say about, say, a house specialty. "The kale salad here is great!" Whatever.
  5. This is a magical pinot greezsh that this place has because it goes with everything. I enjoy the moments in this book where CG is all, "Let me explain a rich-people thing to you, peasant," only he then goes on to make it seem like he doesn't understand rich-people things at all. Also: you don't gotta be a billionaire to do rudimentary wine pairings. Also: they end up eating venison, and their waitress is going to be totally rolling her eyes at them and assuming that they don't know anything about wine and just like watching Sex and the City because this is not a pairing that any server would ever suggest. Also, and this is the last also: I bet the restaurant would more likely have pinot gris because I bet they're all about local wines and stuff. 

They make conversation and it's pretty awkward. Here's a list of "firsts" that CG says he's recently experienced: "I've never slept with anyone, never had sex in my bed, never flown a girl in Charlie Tango, never introduced a woman to my mother." Well, that's all pretty weird! And implausible. Now I'm super intrigued to learn more about CG's deep, dark secrets and why he never had sex in a bed before like a regular person! Just kidding. Not that interested. Also, he's saying he never slept with anyone in the most literal sense. At some point he said he'd been with fifteen women, which, really, for a billionaire with a sex dungeon strikes me as kind of low. But then, he is totally insufferable, so maybe it seems high? Shrug.

Ana asks CG what he means by "vanilla" sex, "to distract myself from the intense, burning, sexy look he's giving me." Good plan! Nothing will distract you from thinking about sex better than talking about sex!

His answer: "Just straightforward sex, Anastasia. No toys, no add-ons." This is fun because "toys" is a uselessly broad category. And also "add-ons" is even more vague and also it makes me think of maybe a yogurt menu. "That's one small raspberry to go. And did you want any add-ons with that today?" This would be a great opportunity for CG to maybe tell Ana some stuff about the sort of sex life he wants to have with her, since she's basically begging him to do so. But instead their soup shows up.

"Nettle soup," is what the waitress says, which is funny, because you know that she'd have say a whole long spiel about it since this is totally the kind of place where the nettle soup would have a long spiel.

Story time!

He frowns for a moment and seems to be engaged in some kind of internal struggle. Then he glances up, a decision made. "One of my mother's friends seduced me when I was fifteen." 

Quoted for two reasons. First: here's where EL explains to us that CG is a kinkster because he was abused as a child. Groan. Here, then, is also why you can find quite a few people who participate in BDSM who aren't super happy about EL's suggestion that people get into it because of statutory rape. "She had very particular tastes. I was her submissive for six years." EL is also trying to suggest an abuse pattern here, which is pretty gross, and ought to lower Ana's enthusiasm even further.

Second: EL is handing Ana omniscience pretty frequently. Ana essentially reads CG's mind while waiting for him to speak.

"So I do know what it involves, Anastasia." His eyes glow with insight. 

Some more mind-reading. Also, this isn't working, right? The more CG connects his own desire for Ana with his own sordid history, the less attractive his arrangement sounds. Also, it's still pretty unclear what his arrangement will entail, other than the exercise, the grooming, and the no electroshock.

Here's why CG never dated in college: "I didn't want to. She was all I wanted, needed. And besides, she'd have beaten the shit out of me." This, of course, implies that him beating the shit out of Ana is super possible. I mean, you know. If she "defies" him or whatever. OMG so romantic swoon!

Also: CG still hangs out with this lady, years later, because "She's a very good friend."

The venison shows up but Ana loses her appetite and this time I'm totally with her because it's hard to enjoy a meal with someone who recently suggested that, under certain circumstances, he might beat the shit out of you.

"Is this what our, er . . . relationship will be like?" I whisper. "You ordering me around?"
"Yes," he murmurs.
"I see." 
"And what's more, you'll want me to," he adds, his voice low.
I sincerely doubt that. 

Sounds great! And then CG tells Ana to "Do the research" which strikes me as a poor way of figuring things out. Couldn't they like, talk? Couldn't he maybe try to explain what he's into? Wouldn't that make more sense than telling her to read wikipedia? (Editor's note: this is kind of a joke, but CG will literally tell Ana to read wikipedia in a subsequent chapter.)

So, they drive back to Vancouver, to Ana's apartment. And Ana is all sad because CG is just dropping her off and they aren't going to hang out for a while and so there won't be anyone around to lecture her about food. Then this happens:

"Oh . . . by the way, I'm wearing your underwear." I give him a small smile and pull up the waistband of the boxer briefs I'm wearing so he can see. Christian's mouth drops open, shocked. What a great reaction. My mood shifts immediately, and I sashay into the house, part of me wanting to jump and punch the air. YES! My inner goddess is thrilled.

I have nothing to say about this paragraph.

Ana's arch nemesis Kate is hanging out at their apartment, packing for their imminent move, and Ana has to talk to her and that's terrible because Kate is so tenacious. You know how in the Iliad different characters are associated with specific repeated descriptors? EL is doing a stupid version of that, I guess. We get reminded that Kate is tenacious every time she opens her mouth. Kate asks one question and then Ana is always like, "Ugh, so many questions!"

They talk about sex and it's one of those times where I'm confused because I didn't know it was possible to be so bored reading about sex. Here's a sentence that Kate says, lamenting the early days of her sex life: "Yeah, took almost a year to have my first orgasm through penetrative sex, and here you are . . . first time?" This sentence is fun for me because it suggests that EL thinks a real-life person might use the word "penetrative" in a conversation.

They spend a lot of time talking about men, because this book hates women and Ana's life was just dumb drudgery before a man came along and allowed her to experience the joys of doing whatever a man says.

One thing that EL does pretty often is make conversations super confusing by leaving dialogue unattributed. Look at this:

"I understand. A couple of letters came for you, and José has been calling every hour on the hour. He sounded desperate."
"I'll call him," I mutter evasively. If I tell kate about José, she'll have him for breakfast. I collect the letters from the dining table and open them.
"Hey, I have interviews! The week after next, in Seattle, for intern placements!"
"For which publishing house?"
"For both of them!"
"I told you your GPA would open doors, Ana." 
Kate, of course, already has an internship set up at The Seattle Times. Her father knows someone who knows someone.

1. Fuck internships. I guess I can't blame EL for internships, but srsly. Pay people who do work!
2. It's clear in context that the first line of this cutting is Kate's. What gets confusing is the third paragraph, starting with "Hey, I have interviews!" There's a paragraph break after speech attributed specifically to Ana. Now, typical convention would have it that when exactly two characters are speaking to each other, and you move from a line attributed to character A and then start a new paragraph without a new speaker tag, you must have switched over to character B. That's not what EL is doing here. It eventually becomes clear that Ana is the one with interviews, based on the revelation at the end that Kate already is doing some shitty job for free. I suppose we're supposed to understand that Ana's report re: her interviews is based on information gleaned from the letters. But that's absurd too, because that sort of thing would be handled over the phone.
3. It's cute how in this book, college grades mean anything.

Then they pack up their house and eat lasagna and Ana has a useless conversation with José over the phone and then Ana decides to look at the contract and the chapter ends.

This chapter is the absolute worst so far. The only thing that matters at all is the revelations about CG's abuse. So, we had a whole chapter of nothing, as a way of making sure that one particular two-page conversation happened. Brutally inefficient.

But next week? The sex contract. Yay.

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