Tuesday, October 29, 2013

50 Shades of the Complainist: Chapter 25

Ana flies back to Seattle and then she has sex with Christian.

They have some sex. Using restraints and sensory deprivation. Whatever. I keep expecting stuff to get crazier, but nope! 

Someone named Jamie Dornan is the new Christian Grey, until he wises up and quits, just like that motorcycle dude did. I have no idea who this is. I haven't seen any of his listed credits on IMDB. Hell--I haven't even heard of any of his credits except for Marie Antoinette and that was basically his first credit so he's probably just a dude that opens up a door and says, "Oh, whuddup, Mary-A!" (I assume that's the sort of line that probably gets said in Marie Antoinette. Whatever.)

I'm basically going to do the same thing I do when following a political race: I immediately think best of the person I know the least about, because I don't have any real basis for hatred yet. So good luck, Jamie! Also: who cares? Also, IMDB offers this particularly useless bit of trivia: "Played a serious level of rugby in his native Ireland." What does that mean? No idea. Is this what his friends said before they staged a rugby intervention? "Jamie, we all love you, but we just need to talk for a moment about your rugby level. It's serious." 

But anyway, Jamie, if you are reading this, best of luck! Should you go through with this, 50 Shades will probably make you rich and ruin your career at the same time, as you'll be forever associated with this garbage. (Editor's note: this is also Alden's plan. He's weighed his options, and is happy making this his first and last book. Also, the publishing rights are still for sale. Ahem.)


The Penultimate Chapter!

Last week I got all sad and moped about how little plot this book's got. Basically none! I do whine about this basically every week, but it's only as we approach the end of this mess that the real "shape" of the "plot" becomes entirely apparent. I mean, I should've figured this out earlier, but only now can we start to reflect back on the earlier chapters and take note of all the possible plot threads that EL James introduces only to abandon:

  • José as secondary love-interest 
  • Kate as foil for Christian
Not very many! Almost none, actually! But let's do another list of all the little side-ideas that EL made us think were maybe going to go somewhere:

  • José's photography show. Was every important at about Chapter 3 but now I don't even know if it's a thing.
  • Ana was once upset about CG spending lots of money on her. He's spending more than ever, but we're talking about it less.
  • Ana's job search was resolved with absolutely no strain or plot implications.
  • It seemed as though there might be some stress related to our heroes meeting each other's families, but these meetings were completely amicable and worry-free once they actually happened.
  • CG presented Ana with a pretty complicated list of sex-stuff, but in practice, all he wants is for her to hold still and act like a corpse while they do the deed, so his personal sexual tastes haven't really affected the story nearly as much as his general dickishness. 

If EL would've developed either of the two listed (reasonably good!) potential subplots as subplots, maybe I wouldn't be quite so depressed right now! Having José as a sort of "anti-Christian" competing for Ana's affections and having Kate actively trying to chase Christian off would've given Ana something like an actual conflict to resolve. Even better if we were to also see more of Elliot. It's completely weird that Ana and her bff are dating brothers, but why not use it? EL could do far more to paint Elliot and Kate as a sort of happy, alternate-universe version of Ana and CG. She hints at it, but never uses it.

Even if readers split off into "Team Christian" and "Team José" factions we all still probably would've realized that Ana and CG were going to end up together in the end. But that's ok! This is commercial storytelling! It's not like when I go see the Transformers fight the Decepticons I think for even a moment that the Decepticons will win. That's not the point. In this kind of "junk food" entertainment, we're not really wondering how the thing is going to end. We know how it's going to end. What's entertaining is being surprised about the twists and turns the story takes before arriving at its scheduled destination.

So how does 50 Shades measure up? Not very well! Let's look at a sort of "default" romance plot, rephrased for more inclusive times:  person meets person, person loses person, person does some stuff and gets person back, and also maybe there's a cool montage. To generalize: the romance plot depends upon some kind of external obstacle which keeps apart two people we'd like to see together.

Right? Great. So what happens in this story? They get together immediately, and face no external obstacles. All the potential external obstacles are abandoned, and we just have the fact that CG is a shitty person and Ana is a complete maroon. I've discussed this before, I'm sure, but here I am again: the only thing keeping these two from having a happy relationship is that they're just not right for each other.

So instead of a story that's about some likable characters overcoming obstacles, what we have is some unlikable characters moping around until they decide that maybe they should just stay together because of inertia. Riveting!

Meaning this: This love story is basically the story of every shitty relationship ever, except for the part where the guy is a billionaire and has a specific sexual requirements. 

That's a weird genre of erotica, right?

But where were we?

Our story thus far:

  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 detailed than, say, a prenuptial agreement, 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. 
  10. Ana and Christian drive back to Ana's house. 
  11. Ana reads the sex contract and gets a new computer from Christian and they exchange some emails and Ana reads about BDSM on wikipedia.
  12. Ana sends a "joke" email to Christian, telling him that she doesn't want to see him again, so he sneaks in and forces himself on her. 
  13. Ana and Christian meet for dinner to negotiate their sex contract, and CG largely accepts Ana's demands for cosmetic adjustments. 
  14. Christian speaks at Ana's graduation and also her stepdad is there and Ana agrees to CG's contract.
  15. Christian gives Ana a car. Ana and Christian talk about "soft limits" and then have sex
  16. Christian spanks Ana and then they have sex. Christian leaves and Ana sends him sad emails so he comes back and sleeps. 
  17. Christian gives Ana a Blackberry. Ana and Kate move to Seattle. Ana goes to Christian's apartment. 
  18. Ana has an appointment with a gynecologist at Christian's house. She's prescribed birth control, and then Ana and Christian have sex-dungeon sex.
  19. Ana joins Christian for dinner at his parents' house, along with Kate, Elliot, (who is Kate's boyfriend and Christian's brother) and Mia, Christian's sister. Christian gets mad because Ana says she wants to visit her mother in Georgia so he drags her off to the family boathouse for punishment and sex.
  20. Ana and Christian have boathouse sex and then go home for mild spanking and bed sex and then we are unsurprised when we learn that Christian's mom did drugs when he was a toddler. 
  21. Ana has an interview for an internship with a publishing company and then she goes to the airport.
  22. Ana goes to Georgia to visit her mom but mostly just sends emails to Christian. Then Christian appears unexpectedly right at the bar where Ana is having a drink with her mom.
  23. Ana introduces Christian to her mom, Carla, and then Ana joins Christian in his hotel room for sex. 
  24. Ana and Christian fly around in a glider and eat pancakes. 

We join Ana at the airport, preparing to return to Seattle. I suppose I'm just happy that this isn't another chapter that starts with yet another of Ana's bland sex dreams. Once again, Ana's mom says some generic nonsense, and then Ana is all, "ZOMG my mom is teh genius!"

"Follow your heart, darling, and please, please--try not to overthink things. Relax and enjoy yourself. You are so young, sweetheart. You have so much of life to experience yet, just let it happen. You deserve the best of everything."

Let me just say I find this advice to be poor. Mom sees Ana's boyf stalk her from one coast to the other and says, "Hey I've got an idea! Go up to his room for sex." (Editor's note: Alden is paraphrasing.) And now she says, "just let it happen." Thanks, cool mom! Reminds me of something I realized as an adult: when I was in elementary school, there were always a handful of kids who seemed like they had awesome lives because their parents totally let them do like, whatever! At the time, my brain said this: Lucky! In hindsight, some of those kids might've been lucky. But also some of them were just kids with troubled, negligent parents! You know, like Ana's mom? That kind of idea.

EL says some confusing things about tears so I'll share them with you. First: "Hot, unwelcome tears prick my eyes as I cling to her." Does this sound like she's crying already? Does to me! But at the bottom of the same page, Ana heads to her flight and turns around to see her mom's tears, and we get this: "I can no longer hold mine back. I put my head down and proceed to the gate, keeping my eyes on the shiny white floor, blurred through my water eyes.

Sometimes, EL tries to be literary or something and just ends up confusing. So when tears were "pricking" Ana's eyes, she wasn't crying yet? So what was happening? I include this partially because of a general peeve: too often I read about tears "stinging" somebody's eyes. We've all cried at some point, right? I can admit it! I'm a big man! With big feelings! And you know how tears are what your eyeballs are swimming around in literally all the time? Having more of that stuff doesn't sting your eyes! When you don't have enough? That can really sting! Whatever.

EL reminds us that she doesn't know how airports work. Bob tells Ana that they're calling her flight. So let's be real: if you aren't through security, and you hear an announcement about your flight? You've missed your flight! But not in this book. You just go get on your plane, and it's fine.

Ana sits on the plane and does the only thing that she ever does: think about CG. And, we get one of the most convoluted, useless passages in this whole convoluted, useless novel:

What does Christian know of love? Seems he didn't get the unconditional love he was entitled to during his very early years. My heart twists, and my mother's words waft like a zephyr through my mind: Yes, Ana. Hell, what do you need? A neon sign flashing on his forehead? She thinks Christian loves me, but then she's my mother, of course she'd think that. She thinks I deserve the best of everything. I frown. It's true, and in a moment of startling clarity, I see it. It's very simple: I want his love. I need Christian Grey to love me. This is why I am so reticent about our relationship--because on some basic, fundamental level, I recognize within me a deep-seated compulsion to be loved and cherished.

Right? So shut your mouth! How can you say Ana goes about things the wrong way? She is human and she needs to be loved just like everybody else does. 

Seriously, though? What the shit? Her big realization is that she wants her boyfriend to love her? Unbearable. And there are all these confusing pronouns. "She thinks I deserve the best of everything. I frown. It's true, and in a moment of startling clarity, I see it." What could "it" possibly refer to, other than Ana deciding that she deserves the best of everything? Well, taken as a whole, we can tell that "it" refers to the "fact" that CG is in love with Ana but doesn't express it in the way that Ana would prefer, or, really, in a way that many people on earth could learn to appreciate it. In other words, Ana is, once again, rehashing the same none-conflict conflict that she's been working through this entire book, and which I thought she kind of settled last chapter: she has a boyfriend, but he doesn't act boyfriendy enough, at least not in the sense that she desires. 

But that's pretty much how it always is, right fellas? I mean, ladies are always like, "Oh hai let's cuddle and look at pictures of cats on Instagram!" and fellas are always like, "But I wanted to tie you up in the sex dungeon again!" Right? It's no wonder we can't get along! You fellas know what I'm talking about, right? Right? Yeah? Is this thing on? 

(Editor's note: Alden just stealthily pulled his copy of 50 Shades from his bag and slid it onto his café table in such a way as to make it impossible for anyone else to read its cover. No wonder people buy this thing on Kindle. It's too embarrassing to buy it any other way.)

Ana sends CG some emails, and he's like, Captain Air Safety or something because he threatens to spank her for using an electronic device:

Have you taken off yet? If so you should not be e-mailing. You are putting yourself at risk, in direct contravention of the rule regarding your personal safety. I meant what I said about punishments. 

Guys this is another one of EL's many public service announcements. If you use your phone after the cabin doors close, the wings will fall off the plane and and everyone will die.

Ana keeps alluding to "the situation" which is a reference to whatever prompted CG to skip home from Georgia ahead of schedule. It almost feels like drama, this situation. This is the first time in the entire novel that CG has worried about anything, but any sense of tension the reader might pick up on is just due to a desperate hunger for plot. EL herself does nothing to create tension. I mean, look at Ana's thoughts on the matter:

What is eating him? Perhaps "the situation"? Maybe Taylor's gone AWOL, maybe he's dropped a few million on the stock market--whatever the reason. 

So this is basically the run-up to the only dramatic thing that happens in the whole book, and Ana could not be less helpful. Creating dread is easy! But the only thing I dread in this book is whatever sex scene is going to happen next, which I think is what I'm supposed to be excited about. Oh well!

Also, whatever CG is dealing with--how could it be worse than having to deal with him? Ana reminds us, lest we've forgotten, with one of her many rhetorical questions, that CG is the worst:

I become aware that once again the only empty seat is beside me. I shake my head as the thought crosses my mind that Christian might have purchased the adjacent seat so that I couldn't talk to anyone. I dismiss the idea as ridiculous--no one could be that controlling, that jealous, surely. 

Ana is almost like an untrustworthy narrator, in a way. Whenever she says that something couldn't be the truth, I assume that it is definitely the truth. So yeah. CG definitely bought that extra seat as part of his campaign to isolate Ana from all other humans, besides himself and those on his payroll. Because you know how it always goes on planes, right? I would say that like, half of my best friends are people I met on airplanes. Because who doesn't want to talk while flying? Srsly, tho: the passage suggests that CG did, in fact, drop a few thousand dollars to prevent Ana from talking to anyone on her flight. Jealousy is an ugly thing, but CG elevates it to an absurd and terrifying level, which is of course super romantic. Right, ladies?! 

Oh wait though! Taylor, CG's manservant, picks up Ana at the airport and shit gets super sexy! I can't believe it! Check this out!

I sigh. He's so polite. I remember, though I would like to erase it from my memory, that this man [Taylor] has bought me underwear. In fact--and the thought unsettles me--he's the only man who's ever bought me underwear. Even Ray's never had to endure that hardship. We walk in silence to the black Audi SUV outside in the airport parking lot, and he holds the door open for me. I clamber in, wondering if wearing such a short skirt for the return to Seattle was a good idea. It was cool and welcome in Georgia. Here I feel exposed.

Right? This is like the best paragraph in the whole book! Bringing up Ana's dad is a little bit of a misstep. You don't want to be thinking about your parents in the lead-up to a sex-scene, but other than that, this is the perfect lead-in to a pretty nicely-written sexual encounter between Ana and Taylor which doesn't actually happen, but really would have made things more interesting.

I mean, am I wrong? Look at that paragraph. The next thing that happens should be SUV sex, right? Right. That's exactly what should happen, but of course, it doesn't. Nothing that I ever want to see happens in this book. No SUV sex. No IHOP sex. None of it. As you know, you amuse yourself with he sex scenes you have, not the sex scenes you might want or wish to have at a later time. But still. It's a little unfair that the only time EL creates any sexual tension, she does so between characters who aren't actually going to have sex. What passes for sexual tension between Ana and CG is basically just Ana saying, "Wow! I'm really feeling some sexual tension here!" And that doesn't count! Show, don't tell!

Anyway, after that sex doesn't happen, Ana is nervous about meeting up with CG. Why? Pretty much just because it's always a little scary to return to your abusive boyfriend's house:

Why am I so nervous? And I know it's because I have no idea what kind of mood Christian's going to be in when I arrive. My inner goddess is hopeful for one type of mood; my subconscious, like me, is fraught with nerves.

A couple things to note here: 1) I should ask my interns about whether or not this is the first time Ana has split fully into 3 distinct personalities. Usually inner goddess and subconscious are saying different things, and Ana chooses not to take sides. Here, Ana has two distinct personalities both worrying that CG will be in a spanky mood. This is weird, right? She's got some kind of disorder probably, right? And 2) I appreciate that Ana basically admits that CG only comes in two flavors. Either he's in a shitty, terrible mood, or they're fucking. How could anyone put up with such a relationship? Things are basically intolerable between Ana and Christian when there isn't actual sex actually happening. Outrageous. 

Anyway, back at CG's place, they're making out right away and I'm bored. The first thing CG says to Ana is, "I'm so glad you're back. Shower with me--now." Yawn. The only part I enjoy during their initial make-out is this sentence: "I kiss him back with equal fervor, my fingers twisting and fisting in his hair." This is, I think, the second time EL has used the word "fisting" to describe something Ana does to CG's hair and I'm glad I'm not so mature as to not find it hilarious. 

Anyway, they have sex real fast and I can't even pretend to be interested enough to tell you anything about it. It lasts almost exactly one page, and then they take a shower and catch up on their time apart, which lasted about 36 hours.

Ana tells CG about her new job and CG claims to know nothing about it, which Ana doesn't really believe, and I don't either, based on CG's history as a known stalker. Ana asks if he knows where she'll be working, and CG says, "No. I know there are four publishing companies in Seattle--so I'm assuming it's one of them." I bet if you count generously, Seattle has more more like a hundred publishing companies. I expect there are more than four distinct university presses, but whatever. That's what happens when you write a book about a city you've never been. You get some things, such as everything, wrong. 

Ana says she starts Monday, so CG says, "That soon, eh? I'd better take advantage of you while I still can. Turn around." It's hilarious to me how direct that line is. Better take advantage of you while I still can. Comical! How could this sentence mean anything other than what it says? 

CG: "You intoxicate me, Miss Steele, and you calm me. Such a heady combination." Can anyone direct me to like a PDF of this book just so I can do CTRL-F and count how many times some of these dumb phrases come up? Like "heady combination"? This is the first time anyone has said it out loud, so that's kind of a first, but also it comes up in basically every sex scene.

Here's a gross line from the shower scene that I will go ahead and share with you: "It feels heavenly, washing off the sticky Georgia morning and the stickiness from our lovemaking." Gross, right? Somehow, EL's vagueness often makes things seem worse than if she'd just go ahead and be explicit. At least that's how it feels to me. 

Ana does something totally inexplicable: she brings up José's photography show. Right there in the shower! Right before they have sex again! Srsly! I'm not even making this up! CG is weirdly ok with it, though he does declare that they'll take is rich-guy helicopter so he can show up and be all like, "Yeah, took the chopper. NBD. Hey nice art or whatever though, guy." So yeah he's still a jerk, but what are you thinking, Ana? I mean, speaking as a non-jealous type, even, it seems weird to me to bring up this kind of "by the way" conversation when they're all naked in the shower and stuff. Doesn't even matter that it's about a different person, although that is worse. It would be bad enough if Ana was like, "Oh, yeah, forgot to mention that I finally got to see Little Fockers on the plane today. Pretty good!" Right? Because you'd be like, what the hell? I thought we were having a moment or whatever! Why are you bringing up these side topics during our romance or whatever? 

Anyway, EL spares us the second part of their sex because I guess even she realizes that we're sick of it at this point. Yawn. 

Cut to dinner, which is pasta alle vongole, made by Mrs. Jones. Here goes EL again, pretending we know what the hell pasta alle vongole is. It's spaghetti with clams. Who the hell cooks that at home? Anybody? Whatever. 

Then CG announces that they're going to do some complicated sex-dungeon stuff right after dinner, and I'm like, really? At this point I'm wondering if maybe they should be worried about chafing and also I could not be less excited to read about them getting naked again. CG tells Ana to go get ready in her room, and I don't understand why getting ready involves losing her robe but putting on panties. Why not just stick with the robe? And then take that off? Meh. I'm always thinking in terms of efficiency, I suppose! Here's what Ana thinks about her room: "I console myself with the thought that at least I have somewhere to escape from him." 

I guess I might be more sold on this "romance" if, thirty pages from the end of the book, one of the characters in the alleged romance weren't still plotting potential escape plans. Her room is full of clothes. "Holy crap--he's spent a fortune. It resembles Kate's--so many clothes hanging neatly on the rail." In other words, a normal amount of clothes. I haven't seen any evidence that Kate's wardrobe is excessive, but I've seen plenty that suggests that Ana has basically been living on maybe a three-day laundry cycle, which must be taxing, right? Laundry is the worst.

Ana gets ready for dungeon sex:

Jeez, I thought after the bathroom he would have had enough. The man is insatiable, or maybe all men are like him. I have no idea, no one to compare him to. Closing my eyes, I try to calm myself down, to connect with my inner sub. She's there somewhere, hiding behind my inner goddess.

The first thing that's remarkable about this paragraph is the revelation that Ana thinks that maybe all men are like CG, which explains a lot! I mean, why not just stay with him, if this is just how dudes are? Might as well! If all men are despicable people, I guess pairing off with a billionaire makes sense! 

But much more important! A THIRD PERSONALITY. Or fourth, depending on how you're counting. There's subconscious, there's inner goddess, and now there's sub. I hope to meet some additional characters in Ana's brain. It's obvious that this dumb convention isn't going anywhere, so since I know I'm not going to be rid of it, I want it maximized. I want Ana to have dozens of different people running around up there, telling her what to do. Enough that readers will stop and say, "Oh, hey. Maybe she could really use some help!" Because she could. She really could.

"Anticipation runs bubbling like soda through my veins." What? I keep thinking about it, and it keeps not making any sense. Moving on. Same paragraph: "It's what he wants--and after the last few days . . . after all he's done, I have to man up and take whatever he decides he wants, whatever he thinks he needs."

WHAT? Ok during the last few days, basically what's happened is that 1) CG ignored Ana's request for a little time on vaycay alone at her mom's and 2) CG has had a "situation" that has not yet been explained to us. Ana's phrasing makes it sound like what she means is, "Well, I fucked up, so I should apologize to CG by letting him do whatever weird stuff he wants, even if I don't like it." But the only mistake Ana made in the last few days was the the one where she didn't break up with CG for being a scary tyrant. Her attitude is baffling to me. 

CG shows up. "He's naked except for those soft ripped jeans, top button casually undone." So, really not naked, right? Then he grabs a bunch of props from his box of sex props, but we don't know what they are yet. But the sad truth of it is this: there just isn't a sex toy yet invented that's sexy enough to turn this scene around. 

CG reminds Ana of the safewords "yellow" and "red," which are not very creative. Then he presses some buttons on a CD player, which does nothing. And then he says that he's going to tie Ana to the bed, and that she won't be able to hear anything besides music, at which point he pulls out his Ipod. Why does he have this alongside the CD player? Don't know! Also: Don't care.

Here is Ana's reaction to the Ipod: "Jeez, I hope it's not rap." I'll just let you think about that for a moment.

CG spends a moment braiding Ana's hair (!) and then this: "Leaning down, he nuzzles my neck, tracing his teeth and tongue from the base of my ear to my shoulder. He hums softly as he does, and the sound resonates through me. Right down . . . right down there, inside me." OMG guys! Christian is so amazing at sex that he know the exact frequency of Ana's lady-parts. Very impressive! But also, we're almost done with this dumb thing and we still have to read "down there" and I'm just so sick of it.

For his next trick, CG brings out a flogger:

"I will use this. It will not hurt, but it will bring your blood to the surface of your skin and make you very sensitive."
Oh, he says it won't hurt.

Oh is that what he says, Ana? Thank you for passing his words along to me, since it's not like I'm reading the book along with you. Ugh. "Oh, he says it won't hurt." This is maybe the dumbest line in this entire book. "Oh, he says it won't hurt." Well what the hell do you think, Ana? Do you believe him? Do you trust him? Do you feel relieved? Do you think he's lying? Listening to you repeat whatever CG says without expressing any opinion about it is an insulting waste of time.

CG makes Ana say her safewords for practice, and then drops this gem: 

"Good girl. Remember, most of your fear is in your mind."

Most. Of your fear. Is in. Your mind. 

Well where the hell else would it be? 4fr5tg6 (Editor's note: that series of characters is the result of Alden mashing his face against his keyboard.)

Ahem. Right. Where were we? OK FEAR! Yes. Fear is in your mind, because that's where your brain is, and that's where your thoughts are! Glad that's settled. 

Goddamn I'm tired of reading the word "behind:" 

"Stand still," he orders, and he kisses my behind and then gently nips me twice, making me tense. "Now lie down. Face up," he adds as he smacks me hard on the behind, making me jump.

Ugh. There are so many better ways of phrasing this! So easy to say "ass" instead of "behind" because we're all adults here and we can read swears and not freak out. And then just say "spanks" instead of "smacks me hard on the behind" and there you go! No need to say "ass" twice. Once is enough. Also, Ana's reactions are vague and weird. It's hard to interpret "making me tense." Not very specific. Doesn't actually say how she feels. I mean, I guess it's bad? And the same thing with "making me jump." Is she surprised? Or is she scared that more will follow this introductory spank? No idea. We have a first-person narrator who's supposed to explain this stuff to us, but she often just doesn't.

So, back to Christian's Ipod: 

It has a strange antenna device as well as headphones. How odd. I frown as I try to figure this out.

"This transmits what's playing on the Ipod to the system in the room," Christian answers my unspoken query as he taps the small antenna. "I can hear what you're hearing, and I have a remote control unit for it." He smirks his private-joke smile and holds up a small, flat device that looks like a very hip calculator. He leans across me, inserting the earbuds gently into my ears, and puts the Ipod down somewhere on the bed above my head.

With so much to get annoyed about, it's kind of weird how angry this section makes me. But come on. Look: there is such a thing as wireless headphones. There have been wireless headphones for a long time. So don't make up this other shit about the Ipod that's got some weird transmitter on it or whatever. Or the remote control that somehow works on Ipods! Don't make up weird nonsense gadgets when there's a simple way of accomplishing the same thing! Wireless headphones! Plug your Ipod into the receiver, and then tell the receiver to output to both the regular speakers and the wireless headphones. And then your girlfriend, who's all tied to the bed and everything, will be sensory deprived or whatever and you'll still be able to hear whatever boring music you wanna listen to. Ugh. 

CG ties Ana up and Ana thinks, "Why is this so erotic?" but I reject the premise of her question and keep reading. CG makes Ana spread out on the bed and then this sentence happens: "A frisson of trepidation mixed with tantalizing exhilaration sweeps through my body, making me wetter." I guess EL must be good at writing because big words! Also, Ana gets blindfolded at some point. I forget if I mentioned that, but it is a thing that happens.

Anyway, I guess I'll make you read this terrible paragraph, because we're in this together! We're a team!

Abruptly, the soft silent hiss and pop of the Ipod springs into life. From inside my head, a lone angelic voice sings unaccompanied a long sweet note, and it's joined almost immediately by another voice, and then more voices--holy cow, a celestial choir--singing a capella in my head, an ancient hymnal. What in heaven's name is this? I have never heard anything like it. Something almost unbearably soft brushes against my neck, running languidly down to my throat, slowly across my chest, over my breasts, caressing me . . . pulling at my nipples, it's so soft, skimming underneath. It's so unexpected. It's fur! A fur glove?

We're all familiar with that music playing device that's known for its hisses and pops, right? That's right! Ipods. Now, if you get an MP3 brush, you can carefully wash your individual files, and that's going to get rid of some of those pops, but you can never get rid of all of them. That's part of the charm, though. A lot of people are switching over to LPs for the convenience, but I really enjoy the warmth of MP3s, despite those annoying pops. Oh well. 

I love that Ana responds to the music as though she is unfamiliar not only with this recording, but with the very idea of music. What the hell is this? People making noises in a way other than talking? DID TINY PEOPLE SNEAK INTO MY EARS?!

Maybe I could get more invested in this scene if I weren't totally annoyed by the idea of either a) rubbing somebody with a fur glove or b) getting rubbed by a fur glove. I guess maybe b) would be better just because I could just lie there and be bored? HOLY SHIT AM I A SUBMISSIVE? Did I just learn something about myself?? Maybe! Probably not though.

This stuff continues for a while and then CG switches over to the flogger which "doesn't exactly hurt" so I guess that's fine. And then they have sex eventually. So pretty much this was exactly like all the other sex other than the blindfold and Ana learning the secrets of music. The whole episode could scarcely be less appealing to me, but whatever! If that's your thing that's your thing!

The only other little thread that gets brought up here is something about Ana talking in her sleep? I dunno. I guess she did a while back and now she's worried that she said something weird? As though anyone has any control over any sleep-talking that they might do? It's a worry that's so empty that I think I mostly sort of ignored it for my own sanity, but they talk about it some more. And the more Ana worries about saying stuff in her sleep, the more it seems like maybe she has something to hide? Of course, she doesn't. Ana barely has any internal life at all, so it would literally be impossible for her to hide anything. 

But now CG is worried! So we end the chapter with another one of his "cute" threats:

"And you are hiding something, Anastasia. I may have to torture it out of you."

They're so sweet together, you know? Just really delightful. Just goddamn delightful. And that's how our chapter ends!

So we have fewer than 20 pages left and we're still stuck on the same dumb point. Will they or won't they! I mean, they currently are and they seem like they're content to continue but for how long? That's the question of this novel! Will these people keep doing the same stuff over and over or not? I guess we'll find out next chapter! Except, we already know that they will, because we already know that there are two more books so it's already a given. More to come! More of the exact goddamn same, too, probably. I mean, why would it be any different at this point? I literally see no reason. None! 

I keep kinda thinking that I should stretch this out. Because I'm almost done, and when I'm done, you won't come and read these again until I start reading Fifty Shades of Grey Into Darkness or whatever the next book is called. But it's not like we're barreling to the conclusion! Every chapter is basically the same as the previous one, so I see no reason at all why Chapter 26 might break that pattern. 

So please. Tell your friends. Join me next week. We've made it this far. No sense in slowing down now. I'm certain we'll be disappointed, but at least we'll be disappointed together. And tell your friends, will you? Click-wise, I had one of my all-time worst weeks this last week and I'm losing my faith in the power of snark! 

Bu seriously: can't wait to be finished. 

1 comment:

HaroldTGoldfish said...

Thank you forever for the phrase "pancake sex" - gonna try an erotica challenge writing activity... And yes the cg & elena relationship is the only interesting one in the series - also the only original writing(non-derivative anyway)