Wednesday, April 30, 2014

50 Shades Shadier: Chapter 11

Ana goes back to work and her boss is creepy and her boyfriend stalks her all day.

So earlier I was dividing up these chapters into parts pretty consistently. The sequel, you see, is even longer than the first book, which was itself almost impossibly long. (Editor's note: try as we might, though, we haven't been able to track down a word count for 50 Shades of Grey. Shadier is about 159k which makes it a pretty long book. As in, it's longer than most books any of us have read. The first books is somewhere in the neighborhood of 150k. FYI: our analysis of the book checks in at about 125k because we are thorough.)

But, when so little actually happens, that allows me to condense just one of these super-long chapters into one quick essay. I think I'm paying less attention to the prose as we go along because it's just all the same dumb problems again and again. EL isn't improving as she goes. I'm just not worrying as much about it or bringing it up that often because why bother?

Well. We're off to a pretty depressing start, aren't we? Kinda. I'm finishing up a writing class in which I was supposed to write a complete first draft of a novel and I totally didn't. I wrote a lot, which I find pretty pleasing, considering I kept up my schedule here more or less. But I didn't write a novel. I just wrote a bunch of words about stuff and nothing much happened.

But you know what? I know how good books work, and so I'm not sharing any of that project with you. Because I'm not going to just take a terrible non-story and add in a bunch of redundant sex scenes because I respect you too much for that, gentle reader. Anyway I'm in kind of a bad mood about that so I can't wait to just really torch chapter 11 with some sick burns.

Now just to look over at the first page and oh shit. I'm sick of it already. Ugh. I started with such promise and enthusiasm, too. Damn.

This chapter is, on the one hand, super dense with "stuff" but of course, almost none of it matters at all. Basically, it's just a lot of Ana being mad about Christian stalking her while she's at work, and then they make up when she gets home. The only other part of note is that Ana's boss is super creepy, which is extra obnoxious because it kind of "proves" that CG was right. He's still not justified in monitoring every little detail of Ana's life, nor is it reasonable for him to dictate what she can and can't do. But because CG's stated reason for stalking Ana--Jack's creepiness--is an actual fact, CG kind of ends up looking better than he deserves. Gross. But yeah--nothing is going to happen in this chapter. The only thing that "matters" at all is that Jack outs himself as a creep, whereas up until this point, he was just a dude who gave Ana kind of a weird vibe. Scintillating!

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 charity auction at Christian's parents' house. Then they go to the fancy charity auction, and Ana bids $24,000 on a weekend getaway at Christian's Aspen condo. 
  7. Ana gets auctioned off to Christian for the first dance of the evening, but before the dance, the couple retreat to Christian's childhood room for sex. Christian's ex, Elena, threatens to hurt Ana if she mistreats Christian. After the party, Ana and Christian drive home, where they are informed by Christian's security staff that someone, most likely Leila, has vandalized Ana's car and may have broken into the apartment.
  8. Christian's security goons conclude that Leila is not in the apartment, but soon she sneaks into Ana's room while she sleeps so Christian and Ana go to a hotel because Leila may be dangerous. Ana has another of her famous Sunday morning home appointments with her gynecologist. 
  9. Ana and Christian buy a car and ride on a boat. 
  10. Ana and Christian eat dinner and play pool.

Anyway. When we left off, our young lovers were in the midst of a wager: if Ana wins at pool, they go into the sex dungeon; if Christian wins at pool, they either do or don't go into the sex dungeon depending upon what he thinks RE: the sex dungeon. Riveting, right? So riveting.

Here's a gift for you! Mitchell & Webb reporting on snooker. Which I guess is pool? I don't know. They're funny guys, is all I'm saying.

The last image from Chapter 10 was CG lining up a shot. If he makes it, he wins the bet, and they have sex. But if he misses, Ana still has a chance to win, at which point they'll have sex. Ugh so now they're going to have sex.

CG sinks the shot and wins the game because of course he does. Boring. So he decides that they'll just have sex there in the billiards room. Whatever. That's cool I guess. Shrug.

Here's a little taste of their sexy dialogue. WARNING: be sure to only read this somewhere where it's ok to read super sexy dialogue.

“Clothes, Anastasia. You appear to still be wearing them. Take them off—or I will do it for you.” 
“You do it.” I finally find my voice, and it sounds low and heated. Christian grins.  
“Oh, Miss Steele. It’s a dirty job, but I think I can rise to the challenge.”
“You normally rise to most challenges, Mr. Grey.” I raise an eyebrow at him, and he
“Why, Miss Steele, whatever do you mean?” On his way over to me, he pauses at the
small desk built into one of the bookshelves. Reaching over, he picks up a twelve-inch Perspex ruler. He holds each end and flexes it, his eyes not leaving mine. 
Holy shit—his weapon of choice. My mouth goes dry. 
How sad is their "banter"? Pretty sad, right? I hate this kind of sarcasm-as-wit that this book is just so full of. Nobody talks this much when they're about to bang, right? I mean geez. If anybody said a bunch of unclever things like this to me, while an adult situation was emerging, I think I'd just not have sex with them. Because this is really killing my buzz, guys. Not going to lie to you.

But in all honesty, this is not a terrible scene. It's just the pointlessness and the fact that it's so similar to lots of other scenes keeps it from being interesting. We'll do pros and cons. Starting with --


Everyone talks so mutterblushing much. It's like nobody ever kisses in this dumb book.

We get all of EL's embarrassing euphemisms. Examples: "Suddenly, I’m hot and bothered and damp in all the right places." "He kisses me . . . there." Gross. Be an adult. Use adult words. And she uses the same shorthand again and again. For instance, the word "foil" is always used as a stand-in for "condom." She does this with such regularity that she's basically invented new clichés all on her own. No longer stuck just using the usual ones. 

Ana is a real idiot. So, basically CG tells her to take a few more shots at the pool table, and then spanks her with a ruler when she misses. 

“Once more, baby. And if you miss this time, I’m really going to let you have it.” What? Have what?
Goddammit Ana. He's saying he's going to spank you harder. Ugh. How are you not able to put that together using context clues?


Only one. Basically, CG insists that if Ana stops enjoying their shenanigans, she is to tell him, and then they will stop. So when she feels like she's been sufficiently spanked, she says so, and then he stops spanking her, and everyone gets to have a nice time. Yay! That's a key problem of this entire novel, solved quite easily.

But we return to the fundamental problem we've been talking about these last few chapters: where do we go next?

Because, you see, we've arrived at exactly the spot we all expected. Ana and Christian seemed to have met in the middle. Ana is a little kinkier than she started out, and CG is happy being a little less kinky. Yay! They worked it out! Now we can quit reading this trilogy!

Well, except, not quite. We've still got just over halfway to go, both in this book, and the trilogy as a whole. So seriously. What the hell is the point? Why is there more of this book?

EL could've taken the first half of this trilogy and turned it into one decent novel. Here's my suggested revision:

So. Bring Leila in earlier. Have her as a kind of background threat starting as soon as CG and Ana start dating. That way, Leila is there as a kind of warning. Ana loves Christian, but is worried about turning into another Leila, and so she thinks it particularly important to work out some kind of compromise with CG. Then, when we have the big fight that ends the first book, that's exactly when Leila breaks into the apartment. Ana and CG are at the lowest point of their relationship, but that's when Ana realizes she's her own person or whatever, and isn't just replaying the same relationship that CG had with Leila. And then Leila is thwarted and Ana and CG decide to live semi-kinkily ever after.

Basically what I'm saying is this: you tend to expect novels to work on two ways. The narrator overcomes some sort of external threat, and the narrator experience some manner of internal growth. EL has effectively separated these two elements. By this point, by the midpoint of the second book, we feel like Ana and CG have experienced some internal growth, or at least, they've managed to get along together. Neat! But EL has barely introduced the external conflict--Leila being the most obvious component. It's like she decided to to separate the internal and external stories so that she could handle them one at a time, but so doing kind of ruins both of them. There aren't any stakes in the novel at this point because Ana and CG have fixed up their relationship more or less, and Leila is still a kind of background figure who really isn't bothering them in any kind of meaningful way. Neither Ana nor I are really worried about her.

A rapid-fire series of filler-scenes comes after the spanky sex, all of which are super pointless. Let's just go through them in order:

  1. A scene in the bathtub. Ana negotiates with CG. CG says that yes, the bodyguard can stay outside while she's at work and not come inside with her.
  2. A 9-line scene of Ana in bed. Could not be more pointless.
  3. A slightly longer but equally pointless scene in which Ana wakes up briefly and then goes back to sleep.
  4. A scene, just under two pages, in which Ana is cooked breakfast by CG's housekeeper, who also packs her a brown-bag lunch that literally comes in a brown bag. 
  5. Ana arrives at work and thinks, "It seems like years since I was at work." This makes sense, because it is now Chapter 11 and her last day of work was way back at Chapter 3. Wild, right? All the ensuing chapters between then and now were just over one weekend. Nothing really happened, yet EL stretched the Friday evening to Monday morning into a 7-chapter section. Of course the first thing Ana does at work is read emails from Christian.
  6. The first email exchange: CG says hi, and reminds Ana that it's still a secret that he's bought the publishing house she works for. Ana asks CG where to send the check for the weekend she purchased at CG's house at the auction that was somewhere a million chapters ago.
  7. Ana's boss, Jack, invites Ana to come with him to "that Commissioning Fiction Symposium in New York on Thursday." This would seem super weird, only as you'll recall from the previous book, EL thinks that it's quite normal to buy cross-country airplane tickets literally the day before you fly. It's Monday and Ana will be departing on Wednesday, so I don't actually think that we are meant to think that the timing is suspicious, even though it is very suspicious. 
That last bit is of course going to spark a big new fight between Ana and CG. That's how EL keeps this thing going: by waiting a little bit, because sooner or later, CG is going to flip out about some bullshit. All of the first six scenes could have been cut and should have been cut. I cannot figure out any reason why they were not cut. Oh! I remember. Because this book is terrible.

Again about Jack: Ana is super creeped out by him, but this is a real telling / showing situation. Jack hasn't actually done anything really. He's a little weird I guess but no way that he comes off as more dangerous that Ana's actual boyfriend. But Ana always manages to get a weird vibe from him so I guess he's probably a murderer or something.

Even though EL never shows Jack doing anything legit creepy until later in the chapter, the fact that Ana is always creeped out by him makes it seem pretty loopy to me that Ana doesn't put up more of a fight RE: this trip to New York. In truth, this is because the whole trip to New York thing is a feint. EL never imbues this trip plan with anything like believability because her intent is for CG to use his special rich-guy powers to squash it before it becomes reality. EL does this all the time. She sets up some thing for the future, and you read about it, and you're like, "That seems kind of unlikely." And then it doesn't happen. Reading EL try to set up a plot point is like watching the moving lips of a bad ventriloquist.

Next: more emails. CG wants Ana to move into his apartment. Ana isn't ready. CG, as we all assumed, declares that of course Ana isn't allowed to go to New York with her boss because Jack is only her work boss whereas CG is her life boss and he gets to decide this kind of thing. Here is Ana's reaction:

“No!” I shout at my computer, causing the entire office to come to a standstill and stare at me. Jack peers out from his office.
“Everything all right, Ana?”
“Yes. Sorry,” I mutter. “I er . . . just didn’t save a document.” I am scarlet with embarrassment. He smiles at me but with a puzzled expression. I take several deep breaths and quickly type a response. I am so mad. 
This is an entire scene, then we dive back into emails. I include it because this little bit made me think of these brief exchanges that aren't expressed via email as almost like a quick breath of air while swimming. They serve no purpose in their own right, but if we don't get the occasional break from reading these boring emails we'd probably die.

Also, EL has given us absolutely no sense of how the office looks, or who's in it, or anything. I remember that when Ana was interviewing for this job originally EL wouldn't shut up about the green couches in the reception area, but now we're in the office and nobody knows how it looks or anything but also I don't care so it's fine. Back to emails.

Ana's next email to CG involves some bad words. This will upset CG shortly.

Ana books a ticket to New York.

Ana gets another email, only this time it's from Elena, one of CG's ex lovers. Elena wants to meet for lunch sometime.

Now we switch from emails to phone calls. Here's one:

An achingly familiar voice snarls at me, “Will you please delete the last e-mail you sent me and try to be a little more circumspect in the language you use in your work e-mail? I told you, the system is monitored. I shall endeavor to do some damage limitation from here.” He hangs up. 
EL has a pretty warped sense of how email monitoring works, right? I mean everything we ever do ever is "monitored" in the sense of ending up on a hard drive at the NSA or whatever. But basically CG is mad because of this sentence from Ana: "I don’t think you are going to SLEEP WITH, SPANK, FUCK, or WHIP anyone else. I have FAITH and TRUST in you." And I guess CG thinks that now somebody is going to read this and learn that CG likes kinky sex and that this will be the end of the world for him somehow. 

But also, what sort of "damage limitation" does he think he's going to do, exactly? Is he a l33t hax0r? Is he going to hax0r Seattle Independent Publishing and erase their email or whatever? Ugh. 

ALSO WHY DON'T THEY USE GMAIL LIKE REGULAR PEOPLE? Or, more like it: why don't they just text like regular people? I'm less bothered by the ways that EL misunderstands technology and more bothered by how she doesn't seem to understand what people do in the world. Here's one thing that young people do in the world: send tons and tons and tons of texts and basically never email ever. 

Ana calls CG back and says she's going to New York even if it pisses off CG, and then hangs up on him, which is pretty fun. As soon as Ana is off the phone, Jack comes back to tell her that all spending on travel must now "be approved by senior management" and then he talks about talking to someone called "old Roach" almost like that's someone Ana has ever heard of, and I think she hasn't. 

Obvs: CG, the secret new owner of SIP, has managed to get SIP to change its financial policies within about a half hour of hearing about Ana's trip to New York. This is a pretty fast-paced business environment! Also, why doesn't he just tell SIP to quit the email monitoring that he's so worried about? I mean, it's literally his company now and he's the boss of it. So? Well? No answer? Ok moving on.

I'm going to skip over the next half dozen emails. Ana pleads. CG says this: "I am just protecting what is mine." Cute, right? Also I guess he is a hax0r because a bunch of his emails vanish from Ana's email. Whatever. 

I'm kind of amazed by how fast-paced this chapter is with just absolute pointlessness. Next, CG reveals this about Ana's boss, Jack, which I guess we're supposed to believe because of CG's hacking skillz: "He is a serial philanderer, and he will try to seduce you. Ask him what happened to his previous PA and the one before that."

Ha! Um, so fire him then. So, so baffled by the weird mix of shit that CG feels capable of doing vs. what seems outside his portfolio. Creeping into the company email server? That's cool. Making personnel decisions? Nope! Whatever.

Ana forwards the email she received from Elena on to CG because she's incapable of politely declining an unwanted invitation. RIVETING! Sometimes, I'll be reading a book, and I'll just be all, "Ugh. Not enough emails in this book! Email is the medium that really speaks to me as a member of whatever generation I am." I'm glad that I'm not having that problem in this book! It's great! So much email to read! Sometimes I read all of my emails and then I'm like, "Oh, now I has a sad because I have no more email to read." But then I just read more of this book and I'm happy again.

The next thing that happens is that Ana's boss asks her to go buy him a sandwich. Yeah, doesn't seem believable to me, either.

At one o’clock, Jack pokes his head out of the office door.
“Ana, please could you go and get me some lunch?”
“Sure. What would you like?”
“Pastrami on rye, hold the mustard. I’ll give you the money when you’re back.”
“Anything to drink?”
“Coke, please. Thanks, Ana.” He heads back into his office as I reach for my purse. 
Yeah nothing about this is plausible to me. It's just a device to get Ana out of the building so that CG can be mad at her later. It doesn't set up some sort of confrontation with Leila or any drama. Just fuel for CG's stalkeriness later on. And also, can anyone who's ever worked at a job imagine this scenario happening? Every part of it is weird. I can imagine someone from this office making a lunch run for a few people, but not one boss asking one assistant to go get one lunch. And the part where he says he's going to pay later? I am unable to suspend my disbelief.

A little more access to Ana's inner life, such as it is, would aid this scene quite a lot. I'm going to rewrite this scene right now, and without really planning it in advance. One draft. I also only have about seven minutes before I have to get up from my cafe table and go to work. SO HERE WE GO.

Jack pokes his head out of the office door and leans sullenly against the doorframe. He shakes a paper coffee cup as though moving it around will magically put more coffee into it. 
"Wow. I got stuck doing so much of whatever kind of work it is that I do, and now I have a big stack of more of that work that we do here, and I really have to keep working at it because of that trip I'm taking to New York for some reason. Wish I'd brought a lunch. I don't even have time to run down the block to that deli that is super convenient." 
I roll my eyes. He won't even come out and say he wants me to get him lunch, but it's obvious that that's what he's suggesting. Typical Seattle passivity. "Do you want me to run the deli?" Going to the deli is the last thing I want to do right now. Christian's bodyguard will see me go, I'm sure. But how can I say no? It's just around the corner and Jack knows I'm not busy. 
"Would you mind terribly?" Jack brightens instantly. "That would really help me out. Nothing complicated. And whatever you want, too." He hands me a ten that looks like it's been through the wash a few times. I wonder what he thinks I can buy with the extra two dollars that'll be left over after his sandwich. Maybe I'll get lucky and this won't get back to Christian. Maybe.

No, that wasn't very good. But at least it's kind of plausible, right? EL seems incapable of advancing more than one idea at one time. She has to take care of the mechanical advancement of the scene, it seems, before she can pause for a moment and let us know what the narrator is thinking,

Also, Ana only thinks in terms of Christian. She never notes what a weird request this is, never spends any time grousing about Jack making her do this kind of nonsense job. Maybe EL thinks getting sent by your boss to grab lunch is a reasonable thing and not worth complaining about? Maybe. I'm complaining about it now though.

Nothing happens on the trip to the deli. Of course CG knows about it, but Ana doesn't run into her security guard or anything as dramatic as that.

Upon Ana's return, Jack thanks her and says this: "Since you’re not coming with me, I’m going to need you to work late. We need to get these briefs ready. Hope you don’t have plans.” Doesn't actually make sense, of course. If she were going with him, she'd be spending a bunch of time out of the office traveling. But she's not, so she'll have more available office time and could just email him "these briefs," whatever they are. But this book was never one to let logic get in the way of shitty storytelling! 

Alternately, Ana maybe could've done some work earlier in the day. I see no evidence that she has done anything yet besides write CG emails. Oh! And she got her boss lunch. Very productive!

I just want you to have a little reminder about the level of prose we're dealing with here, so here's some more of it.

This is not going to go down well. Christian will freak, I’m sure. 
As I head back to my desk I decide not to tell him immediately, otherwise he might have time to interfere in some way. I sit and eat the chicken salad sandwich Mrs. Jones made for me. It’s delicious. She makes a mean sandwich. 
SO EVOCATIVE. It's delicious. She makes a mean sandwich. IT'S LIKE I'M EATING THE SANDWICH TOO! I mean it doesn't matter. I don't care about this sandwich and its pointless. So what's the point of this cursory, useless description? "It's delicious." Ugh. If you can't say anything that readers give a shit about, maybe don't say anything at all?

And now I'm just annoyed about the fact that the Ana / CG conflict is "back." I mean it never really went away. They semi-solved the sex part of it, but now we're still dealing with CG as obsessive / stalkery / controlling boyf and it's just getting old. I mean, it's been old. Now it's ancient. Ancient!

CG calls and yells at her for leaving the office and Ana calls him "suffocating" which somehow didn't occur to him?

“Suffocating?” he whispers, surprised.
“Yes. You have to stop this. I’ll talk to you this evening. Unfortunately, I have to work

late because I can’t go to New York.”
“Anastasia, I don’t want to suffocate you,” he says quietly, appalled.
OMG this never crossed my mind! What a doofus. What a supreme doofus. Whatever. How can I miss you when you won't go away, Christian? Even when he's not in the room he's an overwhelming presence. How can he possibly be surprised? Whatever.

Next Ana spends some quality time thinking about leaving him again and I'm just like, ugh. I know there's another book and half again of this book, but jayzus. The idea of having to deal with them doing another fake split-up is maybe more than I can stand.

Then Jack comes out and is finally actually legit creepy. He's all trying to take Ana out for a drink and he tucks Ana's hair behind her ear and is super super gross.

BUT! No matter how creepy he is (Editor's note: And he is very creepy! Not denying it!) the stakes are super low, still. Ana has already arranged for CG to come by and pick her up. She's also got a bodyguard waiting outside somewhere, and so for all we know, there may well be somebody spying in on her with a telescope or whatever. Plus, Ana doesn't need this job, and her boyf owns the business anyway. Meaning, Ana can get Jack fired at literally any time. So even if he tries shit, he has one shot. So I'm not trying to downplay the fact that Jack Hyde is gross and weird. I'm just saying: this is a ridiculous time to introduce a villain. I mean c'mon. Halfway through the book, and the villain touches the protagonist's ear? And I'm supposed to give a shit? I see no reason why CG won't fire him that very night. Problem solved.

My favorite part of Jack being all shitty is the part where he asks Ana if she likes her boyfriend. Nice try, guy!

So Ana splits, after semi- telling off Jack. Taylor and CG are waiting to pick her up and take her back to CG's place. Everyone is mad at everyone so it's more or less a quiet drive and I won't complain about that. 

"Taylor drops us outside the apartment building, and we both duck inside, out of the rain."

Hey you know what? I'm no billionaire, but my apartment building has a covered entryway. SO if I were a billionaire, and I still lived in the same building? I could get dropped off at the front entrance and be totally protected from the rain. Oh and also there's a parking garage, too. So there's no plausible reason for Ana and CG to have "duck inside, out of the rain." I mean, I guess that this doesn't say explicitly that they're getting wet, but it seems like they're getting wet, right? Whatever.

Oh but then they have sex in an elevator. And all is forgiven!

All of EL's "sexy" prose is what you might call "purple." Meaning that she's kind of trying to overwhelm us with mood but never does a very good job of giving us detail. 

And suddenly it’s there, from nowhere, that feeling. Oh my—the longing, the lust, the electricity. If it were visible, it would be an intense blue aura around and between us it’s so strong. His lips part as he gazes at me. 
Wait, what? If they're horniness were somehow represented by an aura, that aura would be blue, because in this alternate universe we're imagining, horniness is kind of like the energy from a star. That means that blue is very powerful but red is much less so. Now we're all up to speed! Great!

Someone please tell me if this is hot because I think it's the opposite of hot. Cold, I guess?

“Hold tight, baby,” he murmurs, and magically produces a foil packet that he holds in front of my mouth. I take it between my teeth, and he tugs, so that between us, we rip it open. 
I like EL's use of the word "magically." It's like he's doing a magic trick for a small child: "Hey looks like you've got something in your ear!" And then pulls out a condom.

But like, the biting the wrapper thing? I think they should full-on reverse Lady and the Tramp this thing. Both bite it, and then tug. I mean, why not, right? If it's going to be dumb, why not go full-on dumb?

Here's the next paragraph:

“Good girl.” He steps back a fraction as he slides on the condom. “God, I can’t wait for the next six days,” he growls and gazes down at me through hooded eyes. “I do hope you’re not overly fond of these panties.” He tears through them with his adept fingers, and they disintegrate in his hands. My blood is pounding through my veins. I am panting with need. 

I honestly have no idea what he's talking about when he says "the next six days" but then I'm barely keeping track of these doofuses. Also? What the hell is going on with Ana's panties? Does he have some magical power over them, too? Where he makes them disintegrate? Here's a suggestion: maybe just take them off, right? I mean, what's the argument against just removing them? That in Ana's current state of horniness, every second is precious, and so panty-disintegration is the only way to go? Sure whatever. Let's say that.  But we can all agree that that's weird and not sexy, right? More just weird?

I'm going to make you read the end of this scene with me:

“Taylor will be wondering where we are,” he grins lasciviously at me.
Oh crap. I drag my fingers through my hair in a vain attempt to combat the just-fucked look, then give up and tie it in a ponytail.
“You’ll do.” Christian smirks as he does up his fly and puts the condom in his pants pocket.
Once more he looks the embodiment of an American entrepreneur, and since his hair looks just fucked most of the time, there’s very little difference. Except now he’s smiling, relaxed, his eyes crinkling with boyish charm. Are all men this easily placated?
Taylor is waiting when the doors open.
“Problem with the elevator,” Christian murmurs as we both step out, and I cannot look either of them in the face. I scurry through the double doors to Christian’s bedroom in search of some fresh underwear. 

Gross, right? Why is EL always-always-always telling us about the particulars of where used condoms end up? Why does she think this is necessary? I mean none of this is necessary but why that? is what I want to know.

Can we talk about this sentence? "Once more he looks the embodiment of an American entrepreneur, and since his hair looks just fucked most of the time, there’s very little difference." Srsly. What is she even saying? I have no idea at all.

One last note: why is Ana so worried about Taylor? Why is she embarrassed so easily? I guess this is more a complaint about tone. If you imagine this as a movie scene, it's an obvious but solid joke--people who just had sex have to walk  by somebody who knows they just have sex but nobody talks about it because it's awkard. It works better, I think, if CG's line is moved into Taylor's mouth, and asked as a question. "Problem with the elevator?" And then CG can say something clever and he and Ana can giggle their way into the apartment and leave Taylor there feeling awkward. I guess this goes back to a bigger complaint of mine about this whole mess: it's never fun. And here EL had an opportunity to be just a little playful, and instead, she skipped it and just used it as another opportunity to make Ana feel shitty about herself and embarrassed.

Next CG's dinner-maker makes them dinner and they start in on one of their obnoxious relationship-discussions that they have several of ever chapter. Hooray. I'm going to quote a bit of it because this is perhaps the worst dialogue I've ever seen ever-ever.

I sigh, emboldened by my glass of wine. “You really have to let me fight my own battles. You can’t constantly second-guess me and try to protect me. It’s stifling, Christian. I’ll never flourish with your incessant interference. I need some freedom. I wouldn’t dream of meddling in your affairs.”
He blinks at me. “I only want you safe, Anastasia. If anything happened to you, I—” He stops.
“I know, and I understand why you feel so driven to protect me. And part of me loves it. I know that if I need you, you’ll be there, as I am for you. But if we are to have any hope of a future together, you have to trust me and trust my judgment. Yes, I’ll get it wrong sometimes—I’ll make mistakes, but I have to learn.” 
Can you imagine a human person using the words flourish, incessant, and meddling? Out loud? Because I sure can't. It's also just obnoxious to read dialogue so utterly earnest and without subtext. No one ever says anything other than the exact thing that they mean, which isn't how conversations happen in real life at all, particularly when people are upset with each other. But the biggest problem of all with this chunk is that Ana has such a soapbox. She sounds so very prepared--like she's reading this all off of notecards or something.

But then CG actually says "I love you" and Ana flips out again, just like she did at the end of whatever other chapter it was that she flipped out at the end of. I'm not going to go back and look--just take my word for it. Ana flips out and it's basically the same flip-out that she flipped a couple chapters before because nothing happens in this book that hasn't already happened in this book.

But wait! There's more! Taylor barges in to say that Elena is on her way up to the apartment. You'll remember, perhaps, the first book, in which CG's mom pops in totally unannounced, as though this were a thing that was reasonable for a person to do in the world. Why would anybody just show up at someone else's house in the modern era? What if they aren't home, dingus? Does nobody ever think of that? Maybe Elena has been over six times already and we never heard about it. Maybe! Srsly though this is dumb as hell. Civilized people give other civilized people a little notice if they're going to stop by.

That's our "cliffhanger" ending for Chapter 11. You'll have to wait until next week to learn just why it is that Elena, CG's first lover, decided to pop in. I mean, you could just read this book yourself, if you can't wait a whole week. But I don't advise it. Not even a little bit. Reading this thing is like looking directly at the sun. You need me to filter it for you. That's why I'm here. To filter this thing for you. And you're welcome. 

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