Tuesday, March 11, 2014

50 Shades Shadier: Chapter 6 part 2

Ana and Christian go to a charity auction and Ana buys a weekend at one of Christian's houses. 

Well. Mardi Gras was a fun opportunity for me to not think about this terrible book for a while, but that's all over now. We are into the Lenten season, and that means I have to like, give up my vices or whatever and buckle down and focus on the task at hand: getting through this terrible novel.

Expect fewer block-quotes because the website I was copying all the block-quotes from seems to have been shut down. It was convenient for me to copy and paste but I guess I can't really complain. My whole mission is kind of to catch people before they decide to  read 50 Shades so the disappearance of a website where the books were available for free is basically right in line with my goals.

It's kind of appropriate that we're talking about masked parties and stuff, right? Since Mardi Gras just happened? Just so you know, there are lots of Mardi Gras "balls" and I don't know anything about them because they're the things rich people go to and they sound like kind of a drag. I'm going to assume they're not as bad as this terrible party that Ana and Christian are about to go to, because it's just kind of the worst. Are you so surprised? No? Ok good. Because I'm not going to lie. I just got back from vacation and I'm going to kind of rush this. I had only like, nine views the other day? And that's basically none. That's like a rounding error. It might've really been zero. It's not very many, is what I'm saying. So I gotta get my act together and publish something so here's what I'm publishing: The rest of Chapter 6, in which our heroes go to a party. Yawn. 

Wait where were we?

Our story thus far:

Ana is a naive college student who dated a billionaire for a couple weeks but broke things off with him because he spanked her too hard.
  1. Ana starts her new job at a publishing company and agrees to let Christian give her a ride to José’s art show. It turns out they both miss each other or whatever.
  2. Ana and Christian eat steaks at a restaurant. They rekindle their “romance” and Christian says that they won’t have to have rules anymore and he won’t punish Ana. They drive back to Seattle and Christian gives Ana back the expensive gifts that she'd returned to him when they broke up, along with a new iPad.
  3. Ana goes to work. She is confronted by one of Christian's ex lovers on her way out for drinks with her coworkers. Christian picks up Ana from the bar, and then they venture to a grocery store so that they can cook dinner at Ana's house. But then they get too horny to cook so they have sex.
  4. Ana and Christian eat dinner and then have ice cream sex and then in the middle of the night Ana has a dream about Christian's ex lover Leila, which worries Christian. Later, Ana and Christian fight about money, eat breakfast, and then go to a hair salon where the woman who introduced Christian to BDSM works.
  5. Ana is upset by the sight of Christian's ex-lover, Elena, and storms out of the salon. Christian insists that Ana come to his house because his other ex-lover Leila may be armed. Christian picks up Ana bodily when she disagrees with him. Ana and Christian retire to Christian's house and Christian allows Ana to draw on him with lipstick so that she knows which parts of his body he is comfortable having touched and which parts are off limits. 
  6. Ana and Christian have sex and get ready for a fancy party. 
So anyways. They're driving out to this fancy party, all dressed up and whatever. They're in one of CG's many fancy cars, and in a feeble attempt to convince us that this book is sexy, we have to be reminded that Ana is smuggling sex toys in her personal area. Hey y'all get out more than I do. If I'm talking about a pair of metal balls attached with a string, does that count as a toy or as toys? Whatever. Ana makes this toy situation sound basically unpleasant, so I'm not going to spend too much time thinking about it.

I am beginning to feel a dull, pleasurable ache deep in my belly, caused by the balls. 
Idly, I wonder, how long will I be able to manage without some, um... relief? I cross my legs. As I do, something that's been niggling me in the back of my mind suddenly surfaces. 
"Where did you get the lipstick?" I ask Christian quietly. 
He smirks at me and points toward the front. "Taylor," he mouths. 
I burst out laughing. "Oh." And stop quickly - the balls.

We know that the balls are literally inside Ana's vagina, so her euphemistic use of the word "belly" continues to baffle.  Once again, Ana's description of her own arousal just kind of makes her sound gassy, right? I know I've made this point pretty often, but that's the problem with writing in such detail about a book that's so repetitive. I can only make so many different jokes about the exact same quirk of EL's writing. Eventually, we're gonna hit some repeats.

But srsly: does Ana seem to be enjoying any of this? We do see the word "pleasurable" but if you cut that one little word out? Minus a single word, this passage sounds like Ana is worrying about how much time separates her from a convenient toilet. These are the thoughts that help make this book seem hilarious to me, but never sexy. Never, ever sexy.

I don't understand the bit about Taylor and the lipstick. Is the implication that Taylor wears lipstick, and that CG was like, "Hey Tay-Tay! Can I borrow some lipstick?" Instead, it seems much more likely that since Tay-Tay (Editor's note: no idea why Alden started calling Taylor "Tay-Tay" but I guess we'll just let him since we're on a deadline.) does every bit of CG's shopping, Tay-Tay probably bought the lipstick on CG's behalf, who probably requested it for some previous girlfriend. So that's not really all that funny, right? Unless the joke is about how rich CG is. So rich he can outsource all the tasks of human life. Ha! That is pretty funny huh!

When I open my eyes again, Christian is regarding me closely, a dark prince. 
Do you wonder what EL was thinking when she wrote this sentence? Do you think she just got distracted, or what? It certainly seems to me that the final phrase can only work if it's a modifier of the preceding clause. As in, "Christian is regarding me closely, like a dark prince." But of course, that makes no sense at all. Are dark princes known for their ability to scrutinize? Follow up question: what is a dark prince? Oh well! In the time it took me to write that paragraph EL James made another million dollars. That's probably true. Probably it wasn't a million. Probably it was like ten thousand, which to me, would basically be like a million. I mean, what does a person even do with ten thousand dollars? 

Here's another one of those famous EL-style descriptions that don't describe anything:

There is a line of expensive cars heading up the driveway of the Grey mansion. Long, pale pink paper lanterns hang over the drive, and as we inch closer in the Audi, I can see they are everywhere. In the early evening light, they look magical, as if we're entering an enchanted kingdom.

Right? So EL gives us this image of the pink paper lanterns and that's all fine and good I suppose. Whatever. But then just says they look "magical" which doesn't actually mean anything. I mean it means something, in the sense that these are all words and she's forming complete sentences, so good job on that front. But that extra stuff- "magical" and "enchanted kingdom" doesn't clarify anything. Whatever. They're at the party. Yay.

EL is srsly dragging this out. It's taking forever just to get to the party, and as bad as the party is going to be, waiting to get inside the party is worse. For instance, there are some people outside the party taking photos, so check out this super-believable thing:

"Two photographers?" I ask Christian.
"One is from the Seattle times; the other is for a souvenir. We'll be able to buy a copy later."
Heh. Really? So like, shit is so boring in Seattle this week that they send a photographer to take photos of rich people in Bellevue? Oh, CG's parents paid for a photographer to come to their party, but they're going to charge guests for photos like at mutterblushing Splash Mountain or whatever?

Also: people don't use semicolons when they speak. Just listen! You'll see I'm right.

Every paragraph makes me think this thought: I GET IT! CHRISTIAN GREY IS RICH! I GET IT!

Also EL is using the word "dark" or "darker" a time or two on every page right now, as though to reinforce her book's dumb title. Good work!

Still not inside the party. Some dudes are carrying around champagne, so our heroes grab some. Wait did I say champagne? I meant "glasses brimming with champagne." What do you think is more likely--EL has never been served champagne before, or doesn't know what the word "brimming" means? I'm amusing myself by imagining CG's dad getting ready for the party, shouting at his servers. "Brimming! Make sure the glasses are brimming!" And then some poor schlub is just spilling gallons of champagne trying to make that happen.

They "approach a large white pergola" and I don't know what that is and I don't care. Anyway. Mia, CG's sister, is there.

A young woman appears out of the throng and throws her arms around his neck, and immediately I know it's Mia.
That's weird sounding, right? Look how easy it is to fix: "Mia appears from out of the throng and throws her arms around Christian's neck." Writing a whole book is a lot of work. Writing a single short story is a lot of work! But writing a decent sentence is really not that bad so I don't know what EL's excuse is for failing at this basic task so frequently. Whatever.

Mia pulls Ana away from CG to meet some friends. It's annoying. This book has hardly any characters in it at all, and the few characters who do appear basically just serve to repeat the central conflict in different, predictable ways. Basically every other named character is just in the book to tell Ana to have lots of sex with CG or to not have sex with CG. None of the side characters have their own story or interests or point.

And this anonymous group of women that Mia introduces to Ana is even worse than that. They don't get names, except Ana thinks one of them is named "Lily" but she only "thinks her name is Lily" because who can be bothered to know anyone's name? Not me! And they're terrible, is the thing. They're cliché "popular girls" who are mean to our hero in the cafeteria, basically.

I think that EL is maybe trying to say that Ana is not like the "popular girls" in order to try to establish her as a thoughtful, independent woman or whatever, but the thing is that Ana is not thoughtful or independent so it doesn't work. Every person in this book is the worst, but the women are all the worst-worst. At least some of the men get some actual competency. I mean, manservant Tay-Tay is kind of a sad sack, but at least he's competent. He can drive cars! And organize security! He can do stuff. None of the women can do any stuff. Gross.

This sequence? With Mia's friends? It lasts like two lines. Just long enough for "Lily" to say she thought CG was gay because, implicitly, that would be the worst thing for a dude to be, I guess. According to this book. Lily says that, and then CG shows up and is all "yoink" and yoinks Ana away and Ana is all "OMG MY HERO" for saving her from having to make small-talk with other human ladies for more than literally one second.

Ana meets a bunch of people and nothing matters. But wait! Teh sextois! "The dull ache below my waist is becoming impossible to ignore." On the one hand, "dull ache" is still not fun-sounding. On the other hand, at least Ana was able to localize the sensations to the area below her waist. So that's something, right? She's getting closer to actually feeling a specific sensation in her own body, which really would be an advanced move, at least for her. Great jorb Ana!

They go into the dinner tent to eat dinner. I'm going to skip most of it because it's super boring. OMG IT'S SO FANCY! Yawn. I been to fancy places before! You know what the trick is to having a good time at a fancy place, Ana? Act like you been there before! Give everything a half-shrug, and say, "Oh, huh. That's nice. I guess." And then people will be like, "Oh snap! She is kinda bored! She must be used to fancy things and not at all a yokel!" It's not hard, Ana! Chill out!

Ana and CG are at a table with the rest of CG's family and they're doing the worst small talk. Mia has a man with her named "Sean" whom I predict we will never encounter again because Ana doesn't think very highly of Sean and I expect that means that Mia is still going to end up with Kate's brother. Whatever. 

Then there's some charity-event business that I can't even pretend to care about. Ana freaks out because she didn't bring any money to spend on the various money-things happening which is silly because she doesn't have any and obvs CG won't let her spend any anyways. Here's what I'm saying: this is his rich-guy party, so let him spend his money. Yawn.

See, everyone is supposed to write their name on a big bill and put it in an envelope for some drawing later. I'm telling you this because I'm going to share this sentence with you: "I sign my name using his [CG's] fountain pen--it's black with a white flower motif on the cap--and Mia passes the envelope round."

What can I even say about that? What is there even to say about that? Is this a marketing thing? Does EL wanna sell us Christian Grey Pens? With special not-quite-black ink? I can't even imagine a scenario in which I would share with readers the motif on the cap of a pen. And I have a pretty active imagination!

EL then gives us the night's complete menu and you know how it's annoying when George Railroad Martin spends so much time talking about all the food everyone is eating in Westeros? And you're all like, "Ugh get to the stabbing! Stab stab stab!" This is worse because it's just a menu and it even has bottles of wine listed next to every course. What am I supposed to do with this shit? "OMFG! Alban Estate Rousanne 2006! Robert Parker gave that 91 points!" Right? It's like aggressively pointless. And also there isn't a salad course so what the hell kind of dinner is this? I don't get it.

Dinner time! OR IS IT???

"Hungry?" Christian murmurs so only I can hear. I know he's not referring to the food, and the muscles deep in my belly respond.
"Very," I whisper, boldly meeting his gaze, and Christian's lips part as he inhales. 
Ha! See . . . two can play at this game. 
Christian's grandfather engages me in conversation immediately. He's a wonderful old man, so proud of his daughter and three children.  
Hokay so. Under no circumstances does anyone mean they are "hungry" in this book when they say they are "hungry." What they're saying is that they're horny. We get it, EL! Now please, do us a favor, and never do this again because I believe I speak for all of us (Editor's note: he at least speaks for himself, Editor, and Executive Editor.) when I say that we are sick of these truly pathetic double entendres. 

But did this thing kinda give you whiplash? We go from "Can't wait to fuck!" to "Oh nice to meetcha, Grampa Grey!" in literally no time at all. Gross, right? It's just such a wild change in tone. EL is completely incapable of developing any sexual tension. Which is fine, because sexual tension is only fun if there's some payoff. And the sex that they're probably about to have is going to be super boring so it would be kind of unfair for EL to be any good at sexual tension. Instead she just reminds us every once in a while that Ana is carrying around silver balls somewhere. I forget where. It kind of sounds like they're in her intestines. Is that possible? That sounds wrong, right? But I forget where Ana put the things and every time she talks about them she makes it sound like her insides are reacting to them like bad shellfish, so it's leaving me a little confused. Oh well. 

I mean just look at this bit from a couple pages later:

By the time dessert is served, night has fallen, and I'm really uncomfortable. I need to get rid of the balls.
Goddamn. She said it! She isn't even enjoying herself! Ugh what is the point of any of this?

Also there was a thing in the previous book where Ana was all jealous of a lady because she served CG his dessert (Editor's note: not a double entendre.) and then that lady comes back around for one second and it's super pointless. I don't even know why I'm tell you about it but I am. Maybe it's to further my thesis that Ana hates all women. 

But anyways. Back to the sex toy that's making Ana feel miserable! She excuses herself to visit the bumbershoot (Editor's note: that's British for bathroom. EL's Britishisms are just rubbing off on me, I guess!) and CG is all "I'll show you" and what he means is "Let's go have sex!"

But then! Insert comical record scratching sound here. Mia is all, "No, Christian! You're not taking Ana--I will." 

Oh snap! Totally didn't see that coming! This book just got so crazy! Finally, all my endurance paid off! Ana starts an affair with Mia and things get so, so complicated!

Just kidding. Nothing happens. No idea why that little fakeout happened. Or why someone had to escort Ana to the bathroom. Is this a buddy system thing? Does she require constant supervision? Whatever. 

A couple lines later and Ana is back at the table, sex toy now in her purse. And then she looks at a list of the stuff that's going to get auctioned off, and then for no reason gets angry because one of the auction items is a weekend at CG's place in Aspen that he never told her about. But the dude is a billionaire so he probably can't even remember all the different fancy shit he owns and Ana shouldn't be surprised that he hasn't mentioned all of it to her. The auction list is pretty funny because it's like a reminder of so many dumb things that have happened in this book already. 

For instance:

  • Signed Mariners baseball. Remember in the first book where CG had those extra Mariners hats in his car? That was dumb.
  • 2 Cases of wine from Alban Estates. Remember earlier in the chapter when we saw Alban Estates on the menu and were so bored? 
  • First edition of Pride and Prejudice. Remember when CG gave Ana those expensive first editions and it seemed like it was maybe going to be a big deal but then EL forgot about it and we quit caring again? 
  • Gliding lesson. Remember how Ana and CG went gliding toward the end of the first book and it was so pointless and terrible? 
  • Weekend for two at the Heathman. Remember when CG took Ana back to his hotel when she was drunk and it was kind of terrifying and the worst? 
Thank you, EL, for bringing up such memories. Such terrible, terrible memories.

Also one of the donors is Elena, CG's first lover, and Ana is sure that Elena must not be at the auction since CG hasn't mentioned her, which of course means that Elena must be around here somewhere. Whenever Ana is confident that something isn't happening, that's basically proof that the thing is, in fact, happening. 

Anyways. Ana is all angry about how nobody ever told her about this fancy place in Aspen which is fun because it shows us that she, too can be pointlessly angry about some none-problem and make a crazy deal out of it. CG isn't the only one!

And then the Aspen weekend at CG's house is up for auction, and Ana bids twenty-four thousand dollars on it and wins it. This is significant, in the sense that anything in this book is ever significant, because that's how much CG pretended he sold Ana's shitty car for, so I guess her plan is to donate all that money to this charity. That's cute, I guess. But then the chapter ends and I can only assume that CG is going to be super pissed about this for some dumb reason. I mean he's going to be super pissed about it because that's his only reaction to anything. 

But the chapter is over and so I don't have to find out how pissed he is. At least I don't have to find out yet. I get to wait a few days. Lucky me!

Goddammit. What a terrible chapter. We have to put up with all this stuff about this sex toy with no payoff whatsoever. Page after page of reminders, and then at the end, Ana is all "ugh I'm sick of this" and I'm sick of it too, Ana! So, so directionless. I mean, I'm not surprised because the whole series is like this but I'm still kind of surprised because, oh I dunno. At least I assumed they were going to have sex and that's usually pretty boring but it's still sex so there's always that hope that it could be a little entertaining. But no! Nothing entertaining. This is just a catalog of different rich people stuff and and then Ana does something to set off CG and I just absolutely despise it. 

No comments: