Tuesday, November 5, 2013

50 Shades of the Complainist: Chapter 26

Holy crap. . . we made it to the end! My inner MFA student crosses rolls his eyes at me and goes back to reading the newest Lemony Snicket. 

Ana lets Christian spank her hard and then she dumps him.

The spanking part does actually get pretty rough, but if you're like me, you'll kind of want to read it anyway since it's the immediate lead-up to Ana dumping Christian, which is the best part of the whole terrible book. 

So. We did it. We reached the end. We read every chapter, and gave the thing more thought than even the book's own author. And you know--we learned some things. About life. About sex. About ourselves. 

Just kidding! This has been a total waste. Well. If you enjoyed reading any part of this, then great. It wasn't a total waste. But still. There are definitely better things I could be doing with myself, right? I kind of feel like there must be. Like, even sleeping. Just getting a little bit of extra sleep every week probably would've noticeably improved my health and happiness over these past months. But let's not get too caught up in that! Let's be so pleased with the fact that we're finally at the end! (Editor's note: Or, in another manner of thinking, 1/3 through the trilogy. But whatever.) 

This is still an accomplishment, sort of! I think I'm going to do nanowrimo this November, and now I'm like, boom! Easy. All I have to do is write out a dozen or so single-sentence chapter summaries on Nov. 1 and then crank out a chapter every other day. Boom. Zoom. Simple. I can write five-thousand words about this terrible, terrible book in a single evening. So why can't I write whatever? Maybe I can!

And that's what I was trying to do. Exercise my brain. Get it back into shape a little. So we'll see if I succeeded! And we'll see if anybody deigns to look at this blog between now and when I start posting about Fifty Shades of Grey: The Billionaire Spanks Back. Expect that for Christmas. Doesn't that kind of make sense? You got the whole family, all gathered around. Opening up presents. Talking about the new floggers Santa brought us or whatever. And then, firing up the old mean machine and reading the complainist. That is, to me, the perfect holiday! Merry Christmas, mutterblushers!

Oh right. Let's talk about the last chapter! I mean, if you want to. I already spoilered it but who cares. This blog isn't about the plot! It's about my zingers! Zing!

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. 
  25. Ana flies back to Seattle and then has sex-dungeon sex with Christian.

Our last chapter begins, as is only appropriate, with Ana waking up, and Christian playing a piano somewhere. And as is typically the case, we jump to Ana freaking out about some non-problem, while all her terrible problems proceed, unabated:

I glance over at the alarm clock on his bedside. It is five in the morning, but I feel rested. Why is that? Oh--it’s the time difference--it would be eight a.m. in Georgia. Holy crap. . . I need to take my pill. 

Wait, so the idea is that you take the pill at the same time every day, right? I’m going to check with my medical consultant about this one, but I feel like it’ll be ok if Ana corrects for time zones and doesn’t commit herself to a life of waking up at 5 to take her birth control. Right? That seems basically reasonable, right? And probably not worthy of a “Holy crap,” though to be fair, that’s basically the only thing that Ana ever says. When all you know is hammers, etc. 

Also, Ana doesn’t rush off to take her pill. She goes to find CG at the piano. At this point we get an almost word-for word repeat of the first time that Ana found CG playing a piano in the middle of the night. 

It’s basically self-plagiarism, which is a real thing, but I don’t think you can actually get in trouble for it if you’re just doing the same dumb thing twice in one novel. 

The first part: Chapter 8:

I hear music. The lilting notes of the piano, a sad, sweet lament. Bach, I think, but I’m not sure.

I wrap the duvet around me and quietly pad down the corridor toward the big room. Christian is at the piano, completely lost in the melody he’s playing. His expression is sad and forlorn, like the music. His playing is stunning. Leaning against the wall of the entrance I listen, enraptured. He’s such an accomplished musician. He sits naked, his body bathed in the warm light cast by a solitary freestanding lamp beside the piano. With the rest of the large room in darkness, it’s like he’s in his own isolated little pool of light, untouchable . . . lonely, in a bubble. 

The second part: Chapter 26:
I can hear faint notes from the piano. Christian is playing. This I must see. I love watching him play. Naked, I grab my bathrobe from the chair and wander quietly down the corridor, slipping on my robe and listening to the magical sound of the melodic lament that’s coming from the great room.

Shrouded in darkness, Christian sits in a bubble of light as he plays, and his hair glints with burnished copper highlights. He looks naked, though I know he’s wearing his PJ bottoms. He’s concentrating, playing beautifully, lost in the melancholy of the music. I hesitate, watching from the shadows, not wanting to interrupt him. I want to hold him. He looks lost, sad even, and achingly lonely--or maybe it’s just the music that’s so full of poignant sorrow. He finishes the piece, pauses for a split second, then starts to play it again. I move cautiously toward him, drawn as the moth to the flame . . . the idea makes me smile. 

Right? I mean, this isn’t quite a copy-and-paste situation, but it’s the same dumb thing again. The same imagery. The same positioning of the characters. At first I thought that the moth / flame part was from Chapter 8 as well, but this mess all runs together and it turns out that the moth was from Chapter 16. (Editor’s note: Alden pasted all these essays into one enormous document so now he can track down these details super fast! Success!) So she’s recycling from two spots, not just one, and not doing it very well. I’m particularly amused by the fact that Ana smiles when she thinks about moths and flames. The idea is that the moth gets burnt, right? Not an attractive analogy if you’re the moth! Also, fire is outlawed on their sex list or whatever. 

And then we’re back to Classic Christian: “Oh crap, is he pissed off that I am disturbing him?” This should be the chapter where we’re like, mopping up, right? This should be where our lovers reflect on the obstacles they’ve overcome and discuss their new life together or whatever. Instead, Ana is still super worried about starting pointless fights with her terrible boyfriend who always wants pointless fights. 

“You should be asleep,” he scolds mildly.
“Well, I was trying to sleep but some dumb mutterblusher was playing a mutterblushing piano in the middle of the night,” I retort not quite as mildly.

Of course, I made up Ana’s dialogue. “Retort” is EL’s word, because who puts that in a work of contemporary fiction? Nobody but EL James. But srsly. People who complain about their girlfriends not being asleep shouldn’t play pianos. You know--it’s just like that old saying. 

“Well, I can’t sleep.” He frowns once more as a trace of irritation or anger flashes across his face. With me? Surely not.

Yeah that would be awfully goddamn unlikely, wouldn’t it? CG being pointlessly and inexcusably irritated at Ana for no reason would just be a crazy shocker and make no sense. It'd be quite a departure from the previous 500 pages of this dumb book, too!

They talk about piano playing and music or whatever and EL throws in another couple names of pieces as part of her scheme to market the 50 Shades classical album. 

Then they talk about Ana's birth control pill schedule, and CG suggests adjusting the schedule a half-hour at a time until she doesn't have to get up before dawn anymore just to take pills. Not a terrible suggestion! Not as good as mine, though, which is that she just ask her doctor about it and see what she says, since her doctor is, after all, a doctor. And CG is not. (Editor's note: our medical consultant suggests that Ana go ahead and just stick to 8AM, agnostic of time zones, but the complainist is lucky enough to have far better advisors than Ana has.)

Then they're talking about sex again and I'm reminded of Chapter 18, in which Ana states that she fears her approaching orgasm. I'm reminded because I'm kind of scared of this sex scene, too. Well, not scared, precisely. Filled with dread, which can be different. I'm not worried about the outcome. I know basically how it's going to go, I presume. It's kind of like the feeling you get late at night prior to a day that you know is going to be long and unpleasant. You dread the next morning. So I'm not scared of another sex scene, perhaps on top of a piano. But I do dread it. 

Ana suggests that they could talk, which is a funny thing to suggest in the middle of a conversation, but whatever, and then notes that CG would always rather do sex than talk. This should suggest to Ana that she's either very good at sex or very bad at talking, and then, given those two options, she ought to be able to narrow it down to the more likely choice. She brings up the contract again. 

Groan. The contract! Didn't we work this shit out a couple chapters ago? No? It's still a thing? We're still talking about it? Yes. We are. Ana and CG basically repeat their chat from earlier at IHOP, about how maybe they'll just do their complicated sex-stuff in the sex-dungeon and not be so uptight the rest of the time. 

But look at this bit of dialogue:

"Except in the playroom. I want you to follow the spirit of the contract and the playroom, and yes, I want you to follow the Rules--all the time. Then I know you'll be safe, and I'll be able to have you anytime I wish."

Seems fair! Almost makes me yearn for the days of the contract, though. Not actually. But I'm uncomfortable with people who say, "Oh, hey, we don't need to write any of this down. We'll just go ahead and do everything the way I want." Right? It's like CG is saying, "Oh, we're not doing a contract. We're just doing all the stuff that the contract says. But we're not doing the contract." 

CG runs to grab a copy of his rules and Ana freaks out about her pill again. "My pill! I rummage in my purse, which I left on the breakfast bar, and find them quickly." 

1) Millions of women manage oral contraceptives without anywhere near Ana's stress. She treats it less like birth control and more like the antidote to some kind of super-virus used by terrorists for doing terrorism. 2) Look at this shitty sentence! We have no idea where Ana's purse is until she's mid-rummage. You can almost see EL's thought-process embedded into the sentence itself: "I rummage in my purse, (Oh shit did I mention where her purse was? I probably should.) which I left on the breakfast bar, (Oh should I move this clause to the beginning so it doesn't look so awkward? Eh. Why start editing now?) and find them quickly." Also not that we go from "pill" singular to "them" plural which is dumb but basically works in context, which is about the highest form of praise available to EL's prose. "Dumb, but you more or less know what she's getting at."

And then CG shows up with his rules list AND EL WRITES OUT THE RULES AGAIN. Nearly two pages of text, filled up with a true copy / paste of CG's sex rules. No wonder this goddamn book is so long. The rules, again. Ugh. I wonder if even this book's absolute biggest fan--some poor soul who went to the Heathman Hotel for sex and took photos outside of the Escala building and all that--I wonder if even that fan really read every word of this book. Probably not, right? Probably skimmed it? I bet! Because who the hell wants to read these rules again? This filler! This book is just page after page of filler.

After reading the rules again, Ana rolls her eyes at CG and you know what that means! Punishment! Ana decides to run away from CG, either to keep him from spanking her, or because it will be a fun pre-spanking challenge for him. Honestly can't tell which, because Ana is a terrible narrator. She's being playful, I guess, but I can't tell what outcome she desires. The whole thing could easily go either way.

But then! Check out this part!

"Anastasia, you may fall and hurt yourself. Which will put you in direct contravention of rule number seven, now six."
"I have been in danger since I met you, Mr. Grey, rules or no rules."
"Yes, you have."

Oh, man! Terrifying, right?? This is right before the part where CG finally snaps and murders Ana. Just kidding. You kind of believed me though, right? Since he seems so murdery all the time? Totally.

Now it starts to seem kind of like Ana is having fun? But it's still weird?

I manage to escape, putting the table between us. My heart is pounding and adrenaline has spiked through my body . . . boy . . . this is thrilling. I'm a child again, though that's not right.

I mean, what the hell, right? I'm sick of adrenaline spiking, first of all. EL has these words that she only uses together and it's horrible. So, so lazy. Just unbelievably lazy. "Adrenaline" and "spike" are always in the same sentence and I hate it. And what's this shit about being a kid? I literally don't know what she's saying, though it seems like she's just admitting that it's gross and weird for her to say she's a child again right before she's probably going to have sex on a piano, because that is not something that children should be doing. I mean it. I'm saying this right now and I don't care if you agree with me, or disagree with me. I'm just saying that I was raised a certain way, and I have certain values, and one of them is this: Kids should not have sex on pianos. That's not right.

CG alludes to his "situation" again:

"You certainly know how to distract a man, Anastasia."
"We aim to please, Mr. Grey. Distract you from what?"

"Life. The universe." He waves one of his hands vaguely.

I quote this only because it feels like a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy reference, and I'm so angry about it. Let me tell you something, EL James: the Guide is a way sexier novel than this mess. I don't care what anybody says. Marvin? That depressed robot? I would rather hang out with him than Ana. And not just hanging out! I'd choose him for making out over Ana too. 

But then Ana surprises me again:

"Anyone would think you didn't want me to catch you."
"I don't. That's the point. I feel about punishment the way you feel about my touching you."
His entire demeanor changes in a nanosecond. Gone is playful Christian, and he stands staring at me as if I've slapped him.

Anyone would think that, based on CG's reaction, Ana hadn't made it clear to him that she didn't like his punishments. But of course, she has made it clear. Somehow CG only gets it in this moment, when Ana uses his feelings as an analogy for her own. Probably this reflects his almost implausible self-centeredness, but it's not like we need further proof that the guy is self-centered. We know!

CG is distraught. Ana has this to say about their sexy-time:

"I do it for you, Christian, because you need it. I don't. You didn't hurt me last night. That was in a different context, and I can rationalize that internally, and I trust you. But when you want to punish me, I worry that you'll hurt me."

Ana is bizarrely clear and honest in this scene. I mean, it's bizarre for her. It would make perfect sense for anybody else. She is just admitting that she's operating the way millions of people operate: she tolerates the state of her sex life for her partner, but it's nothing like what she actually desires. Sexy, right??

CG says he doesn't want to tell Ana why he wants to hurt her because it'll make her run away. And I want her to run away, so I want him to tell her, just in case he's correct. But I kind of feel like there's nothing left to resolve. We're just going to get more of EL explaining to us that CG wants to spank Ana because he was abused when he was a tiny child. This will further her thesis that an interest in kink is basically the symptom of a disease, which is why I hope everyone who is actually interested in kink hates this book as much as I do.

Then they kiss or whatever, and things somehow get dumber.

"Don't leave me. You said you wouldn't leave me, and you begged me not to leave you, in your sleep," he murmurs against my lips.
Oh . . . my nocturnal confessions.
"I don't want to go." And my heart clenches, turning itself inside out.
This is a man in need. His fear is naked and obvious, but he's lost . . . somewhere in his darkness. His eyes are wide and bleak and tortured. I can soothe him, join him briefly in the darkness and bring him into the light. 
"Show me," I whisper.
"Show you?"
"Show me how much it can hurt."
"Punish me. I want to know how bad it can get."

Pretty sexy, right? Just kidding! First, there's the sleep-talk, mentioned in the last couple chapters, and totally uninteresting. Nobody says anything interesting in their sleep, and even if it involves actual words, it doesn't matter and I hate that EL made it seem like we were going to get some sleep-talk revelation. Like maybe that the only thing Ana says in her sleep is "José!" or "Make me a vampire!" But no. Nothing interesting.

And then, following from EL's own weird take on BDSM, Ana comes up with this nonsense plan to help CG stop wanting to hurt her by letting him hurt her. Interesting strategy! Let's see how it plays out for her. 

Next Ana reads CG's mind again: 

"If I can handle this, then maybe you--" My words fail me, and his eyes widen again. He knows I am referring to the touch thing.

Oh? And how do you know he knows, Ana? Secret mind powers? Probably. I can only assume, because I lack secret mind powers myself. Ana's plan makes no sense. She's trying to barter with CG about something without telling him her terms, which is maybe not a great way to barter. Try that at an open-air market sometime! Just hand a dude selling fruit a bunch of money. See what you get in exchange. Probably the weird vegetables that nobody else wants. 

Soon they're in the sex-dungeon again, and I sort of start to like Ana a little bit. She's kind of defanged Christian by essentially saying, "Fine. Let's do this dumb thing that you're into. Whatever." She is of scared, but I don't feel like she's going to give CG what he wants out of this trip into the dungeon. It's only in this moment, when she's finally honest about her own feelings, when she gives Christian permission to spank her, that you can see her as an active participant in this process. I still don't feel like she has any "power" in this relationship--CG seems like he's just trying to mope until he gets things back the way he wants them. But I really enjoy Ana's boredom. Her boredom, at long last, let's me feel like, yeah, she really could sabotage this whole thing. CG doesn't just want to spank her for the sake of spanking her. Sometimes he wants her to hate it and sometimes he wants her to enjoy it. But if she's just bored and yawning? That's maybe going to ruin the whole thing for him. I can only hope!

I legitimately enjoy this part:

"We're here because you said yes, Anastasia. And you ran from me. I am going to hit you six times, and you will count with me."
Why the hell doesn't he just get on with it? He always makes such a meal of punishing me. I roll my eyes, knowing full well he can't see me.

This is maybe Ana's most honest response of the whole book. She's not scared. She may dread getting hit, but she's not scared, I don't think. More important, she cuts through to the central silliness of this whole sex-dungeon thing. And there's nothing wrong with it being silly. It's just that everyone involved needs to be on board if the illusion of seriousness, of order, of rules, is going to be maintained. And she's not on board, so it's silly. 

But then he starts whipping her with a belt. And it hurts a lot because it's a leather belt that's being applied to a bare ass, and such things are painful, so even though I'm feeling closer to Ana than ever before, this scene is still pretty gross. Ana is still annoying: "Holy shit . . . that smarts." That smarts! Golly! That smarts! After this let's go get a milk malted down at the five and dime because that'd be swell! That smarts. Ugh. I'm so angry that this is the thought in Ana's head as the spanking gets underway.

"Four!" I yell as the belt bites me again, and now the tears are streaming down my face. I don't want to cry. It angers me that I am crying.

You go, Ana! No, seriously. I appreciate her desire to keep CG from finding this punishment satisfying. She really wants to roll over when he's done and yawn and shrug and say, "Whatever" because that would really piss him off and be great.

Ana receivers her appointed number of belt-spanks, and then we get this:

"Let go . . . no . . . " And I find myself struggling out of his grasp, pushing him away. Fighting him.

"Don't touch me!" I hiss. I straighten and stare at him, and he's watching me as if I might bolt, eyes wide, bemused. I dash the tears angrily out of my eyes with the backs of my hands, glaring at him. 

"This is what you really like? Me, like this?" I use the sleeve of the bathrobe to wipe my nose. 

He gazes at me warily.

"Well, you are one fucked-up son of a bitch."

"Ana," he pleads, shocked.

"Don't you dare 'Ana' me! You need to sort your shit out, Grey!" And with that, I turn stiffly, and I walk out of the playroom, closing the door quietly behind me. 

Well shit! Kind of wish we would've gotten here a few hundred pages ago, but at least we got here! Fantastic! And I'm not making this up. You can tell because she calls CG a "fucked-up son of a bitch" and I would've called him a dumb mutter-blusher instead. Ana bounces!

Let's take a moment again to talk about CG and BDSM. So. It's not that CG is into anything that's beyond the pale. What's gross is a) the fact that EL attributes his kinks to his childhood abuse and b) the fact that CG is only mildly interested in Ana's opinions about any of this. Meaning, if both parties are into it, great! Please! Have fun! The world isn't a fun enough place, so I hope that all the people who enjoy spanking find people who like being spanked, and have a spanky time. 

But I hope that those people who enjoy spanking want to find people who will enjoy it with them, and don't go around just trying to spank whoever. That, in my mind, is what draws a line between a kink and a disorder. There's a big difference between a) wanting to share in something taboo with somebody else who will enjoy it and b) pushing your thing on somebody else and insisting that that person will enjoy it eventually. Because Ana might not enjoy it eventually! She might always hate it!

Also--sure. The things that we enjoy as adults may well have connections to our earliest experiences. It's possible that a person could suffer the way that CG did as a child and have it affect his future sex life in this same way. But it's not fair to make it seem like that's how BDSM works! The way that EL uses the contract, the sex room, the Dom / sub language--it just feels geared toward the notion that CG is typical. And he's not! He's a dude with a real problem! And all the spankings he could ever spank will not make this problem go away. And so I applaud Ana! Her phrasing is sub-optimal, but the dude does indeed need to work his shit out. 

Ana curls up in bed, plotting her next move. Seems like she's finally getting rid of him! We're on page 508, so if they get back together, it'll feel forced and fake and we'll hate it. But also we know they do get back together since there are two more of these shitty books after this one. But for the moment, perhaps I can enjoy their separation, no matter how brief.

CG opens the door and climbs into bed with Ana. And what's the first thing he says?


Fuck. This. Guy. Just a good ol' fashioned fuck you to Christian Grey, who's just another man telling another woman not to speak because she's a child and he's an adult. Hush. Silencing and patronizing all at once. He says it before Ana says anything, so what's the point, dude? Just pre-emptive? 

They do eventually talk a little and Ana is all, oh noes but I don't want to go! And CG is all, but I'm an asshole! And then Ana says she's in love with him:

"I've fallen in love with you, Christian." 

His eyes widen again, but this time with pure, undiluted fear.

"No," he breathes as if I've knocked the wind out of him.

I guess I understand that it's like kind of a big deal when you're in a relationship and you use the love word for the first time, right? Yeah. But I've always found it obnoxious, this idea of falling in love. This idea that there's this particular plateau and it's A Big Deal! It's not! 

And that's not to be hostile to love. I love love! It's just that it's silly to present it in this way. Makes it sound like a disease. "Oh no! I caught love! I didn't take my pills on time and now I've got a bad case of love!" This phrasing takes love and sort of dehumanizes it. Makes it absolute, sterile, and isolated. This force that stands on its own, outside of people, looking down on them, ordering them around. Love doesn't exist outside of people. It's a thing we do as well as a thing we feel. It's a series of actions and adjustments and negotiations. It's only permanences comes from permanent vigilance on its behalf. 

So sure, Ana has strong feelings about CG in this moment. I don't doubt that. But in the real world? With real people? When she gets out of this mansion-condo and starts living her life again? Those feelings are going to go away. They've only known each other a couple weeks, and she'll get over it. It's going to take a while because her feelings are so strong, and this is her first relationship so this particular shitty relationship will play a greater role in her memory than will other shitty relationships she may endure later by virtue of happening first. But if Ana were a real person, she'd get over CG. 

But she's not a real person, and so I expect that that little sentence--"I've fallen in love with you, Christian,"--is going to act like a virus. It may go dormant for a while, but in the world of romance fiction, that type of shit is permanent, and they'll be back together. Because being "in love" is this special kind of thing that somehow exists outside of actual human relationships. Whatever. 

Anyway. Ana is done. I'm glad for it, but baffled by it. When an author is good at writing, they make it clear when the final conflict is approaching. EL James is bad at writing, so the final conflict kind of comes out of nowhere. It looks like they're just going to do another boring sex scene and then BAM! our heroes have broken up and Ana's ass is sore.

Ana gets ready to leave. And then we get this bit of CG's phone conversation and I hate it because it's the sort of shit that makes this feel like it isn't even a novel, but just the beginning part of some much longer, much worse novel:

"He said what?" he shouts, making me jump. "Well he could have told us the fucking truth. What's his number? I need to call him . . . Welch, this is a real fuckup." He glances up and doesn't take his dark brooding eyes off me. "Find her," he snaps and presses the off switch.

You know, that "switch" you have on your phone that turns it off. The off switch. Whatever. Terrifying, right? This is some real crime lord / kidnapper shit. And there it is on page 511. Three from the end. More phone shit that isn't going to resolve in this book. It's so goddamned long, and yet we don't get anywhere on these little plot threads. Don't even know if they're threads. They're just little bits that don't fit in. Terrible writing. Welch is a name that we haven't seen before in this entire novel. No explanation is forthcoming. 

Ana returns CG's fancy gifts and CG says "Ana, be reasonable," and I demand a second big ol' fashioned fuck you to Christian. Because you know how ladies are, right fellas? Always being so unreasonable! Never using reason because that is purely the domain of men! Ugh. What a gross book. Stick to your guns, Ana! Give CG back his shitty rich-guy shit!

And she does. CG writes Ana check because Taylor sold off her car, and now she's carless. Then Taylor takes her home, and she's all sad, but I still feel like it's a happy ending, because she made Christian Grey miserable, and I'm glad.

And this is how it ends. Not with banging, but with spanking. And our book is finished.

I kind of wish that I'd dragged this out a little, or teased the last chapter, or split it into sections, or done something special for this last entry. But you know what? Hell with it. I can't do anything to this mess that would make it seem like we worked our way to some dramatic conclusion. Because that isn't what the book does. Ana spends several hundred pages alternating between miserable and orgasmic, and then gets to page 500 and is like, "Never mind!" 

So it's only fitting that this last entry be, perhaps, a bit of a letdown. There is no payoff here. Just a bunch of pointless bullshit, and some sex, and then it ends. And that is the end of that. 

Thank you for sharing this with me. I hoped that we would all come to some greater understanding about just why this book was so outrageously popular. But we didn't do that at all, did we? I, for one, am more confused than ever. 


Pamela Martin said...

I just finished reading your epic critique and I enjoyed it so much more than the book. Thank you.

Pamela Martin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alden Eagle said...

Thank you so much for reading! (Two books to go...)