Tuesday, June 17, 2014

50 Shades Shadier: Chapter 17 part 1

How can anyone do anything at all during the World Cup? I obviously don't know, since I haven't done anything at all. Instead I'll just have to leave you with some bits from the beginning of Chapter 17 that I was working on before the World Cup started. Maybe when this is all done I'll be productive again but I'm just being optimistic. I cannot say for certain.

Somebody sent me a super-nice email about this blog which provided me with a considerable amount of momentum. However, even that is starting to wear off, and now I'm just hoping to be able to post something before I fall asleep. #Discipline.

Wait so 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 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.
  11. Ana returns to work and Christian follows every little thing she does from afar.
  12. Ana returns to her apartment to meet Kate's brother Ethan, but instead finds Leila, who holds a gun.
  13. Christian disarms Leila and Ana has drinks with Ethan. 
  14. Nothing happens in Chapter 14. 
  15. Ana's boss confronts her in the break room after work. 
  16. Ana thwarts her boss's attack. 

Right so as is almost always the case with all of these chapters, Chapter 17 begins with Ana waking up next to Christian, thinking about the sex they just had, and then having sex with Christian again. Yawn.

We start with one of EL's personal clichés and then follow that with one of CG's most worthless complaints.

The cliché:

My hips begin to sway to the rhythm of the dance his fingers have begun. 
It's not a good line but it's only a terrible line due to repetition. Everything EL does starts out at about a B- and then drops down to failing thanks to her constant recycling.

Oh and then CG complains about condoms. This guy! He's all, "Boohoo I'm Christian Grey and I'm a big whiny baby and I only like sex with no condoms because every bit of me is the most entitled, especially my penis." It's something along those lines. I didn't check it but it's something more or less like that.

Then Ana starts acting like she's enjoying having sex and CG is very much against that so he insists that she stop it.

He smirks at me as he rolls on the condom. “Are you giggling, Miss Steele?” 
“No.” I try and fail to straighten my face. 
Now is not the time for giggling.” He shakes his head in admonishment and his voice is low, stern, but his expression—holy cow—is glacial and volcanic at once. 
My breath catches in my throat. “I thought you liked it when I giggle,” I whisper hoarsely, gazing into the dark depths of his stormy eyes. 
“Not now. There’s a time and a place for giggling. This is neither. I need to stop you, and I think I know how,” he says ominously, and his body covers mine. 
Do you have any idea what CG's voice sounds like? When it's described as "glacial and volcanic at once"? I don't. I mean on the one hand, who cares? Pretty often, writers use description not to capture the literal sense of a thing, but rather the feelings inspired by a particular moment. So it's not that I expect his face to look like an iceberg. But when you give me two opposite things, what am I supposed to do with that? "Glacial and volcanic at once." "Up and down at once." "Wet and dry at once." Oh, like that. I get it.

But mostly I hate the part where he's like, "No having fun! I'm going to use my penis to make sure you have no fun at all." Which is fair because I never have any fun when they're having sex so I guess we're even? But just look at the end: "he says ominously, and his body covers mine." What happens there? He smothers her to death? Because if I were going to write a book in which the narrator got smothered to death, that's how I'd write it.

Turns out that she's alive tho. Next scene, they're eating breakfast together and this is important business I'm certain. Not at all the sort of thing we should just skip! Also Ana "flushes" again because I forget why. Some reason. W/E.

Dunno what's going on here:

“We should buy you some more skirts,” he says matter-of-factly. “In fact—I’d love to take you shopping.”
Hmm—shopping. I hate shopping. But with Christian, maybe it won’t be so bad. I decide on distraction as the best form of defense.
“I wonder what will happen at work today?” 
I enjoy CG's use of the phrase "in fact." Think about doing that- just drop it at the beginning of sentences for no reason. "In fact, I believe I'll have an iced americano, please." "In fact, that will be three dollars."

But then it seems like Ana switches emotions like three times in between two lines of dialogue. 1. Ew! Shopping! 2. Oh maybe shopping is cool. 3. Must talk about anything other than shopping!

I suppose there will be some changes at Ana's job! Considering that she kneed Hyde in the groin when he tried to blackmail her into performing sexual favors. So that guy is out. Ana then expresses desire for a lady boss as Hyde's replacement so that her boyf won't be so mutterblushing jealous all the time, and CG's dangerous tendencies are played off for laffs. "Hehe! He's so jealous! He's likely to flip into a jealous rage if Ana's eyeballs see someone who has boy-parts! What a kooky character that guy is!"

And then CG tells her to finish her oatmeal like he's her goddamn parent or whatever. That's how this pointless scene ends: CG tells Ana to finish her oatmeal.

I went ahead and rewrote this scene for EL. Check out my version:

That's right! It's just a blank spot! Get it? Because this scene is worthless and there was no reason to include it! Moving on.

Ana gets behind the wheel of her new car--the Saab that CG bought for her to replace the Audi. Remember the Audi? CG had to throw it out because Leila slashed its tires and threw paint on it. Totaled! Literally no way to repair a car that has been through that kind of destruction.

All of the scenes in this new Saab are the absolute worst. Well, they would be the worst if they appeared in any other book. In this book, everything is so terrible that it's kinda hard to rank, but rest assured, the Saab scenes are terrible. CG treats Ana exactly like he would a child learning to drive for the first time. But not like, a fifteen year-old with a permit. This is more like how an adult would relate to a tall kid who's maybe like, ten, but is somehow also getting driving lessons. Picture that scenario, and you pretty much understand their dynamic. Fun!

“Can we have the radio on?” I ask as we wait at the first stop sign. 
“I want you to concentrate,” he says sharply. 
“Christian, please, I can drive with music on.” I roll my eyes. He scowls for a moment
and then reaches for the radio. 
“You can play your iPod and mp3 discs as well as CDs on this,” he murmurs. The too-loud dulcet tones of The Police suddenly fill the car. Christian turns the music
down. Hmm . . . “King of Pain.” 
“Your anthem,” I tease him, then instantly regret it when his mouth tightens in a thin
line. Oh no. “I have this album, somewhere.” I continue hastily to distract him. Hmm . . . somewhere in the apartment I have spent very little time in. 
Right? She asks permission to listen to music while driving? Goddammit. FTB. Hey what do you think the chances are that Ana has a copy of Synchronicity kicking around her place somewhere? I'm going to say "zero" but whatever. All of Ana's interests feel like they're just EL's interests. It's not totally unimaginable that Ana might be into The Police but Ana is exclusively a fan of entertainments that were popular at least a decade before she was born. Ana doesn't seem to know about anything contemporary. It's one of the reasons she's just so unbelievable as a character.

A little note on paragraphing: when recounting a conversation between two characters, it is typically best to limit yourself to one character per paragraph. It's a good way to cut down on speaker tags. In this case, you could adjust the spacing and erase a single "he murmurs" and I am completely in support of erasing all possible instances of "he murmurs" from this terrible book.

I tried editing this sequence, but it turns out it can't be done. At first I just changed the spacing so that I could lose "he murmurs" but it's the kind of thing where you take your car in for one little problem and then they find a bunch of other problems and then you're like, "Ugh fine I'll just buy a new car." Right? Because like maybe it got paint on it?

Immediately following that passage:

I wonder how Ethan is. I should try to call him today. I won’t have much to do at work.
Anxiety blooms in my stomach. What will happen when I get to the office? Will every- one know about Jack? Will everyone know of Christian’s involvement? Will I still have a job? Sheesh, if I have no job, what will I do?
Marry the gazillionaire, Ana! My subconscious has her snarky face on. I ignore her— rapacious bitch.
“Hey, Miss Smart Mouth. Come back.” Christian drags me into the here and now as I pull up at the next stoplight.
“You’re very distracted. Concentrate, Ana,” he scolds. “Accidents happen when you don’t concentrate.” 

1. CG has made it explicitly clear that he will insure Ana's continued employment at SIP for as long as she wishes to work there, so this is a dumb thing to worry about. I mean, yeah, Ana is going to be nervous about the mood in the office. But she knows her job is secure. Whatever.
2. I hope everyone does know about Jack! Dude is a super creep! If people are going to be super creepy, other people deserve to know about it!
3. What's going on with subconscious here! I'm not sure! So it seems like "subconscious" (Editor's note: it is almost physically painful to write about subconscious or inner goddess. Please understand that this is a considerable sacrifice that we're making for you.) is being sarcastic, right? I mean, that's what I assume the word "snarky" is meant to convey. But then Ana calls "subconscious" greedy and I don't know what's going on. But also it's super weird that Ana is basically calling herself a bitch here, right? That's weird. Really weird and also uncool but most important it's just weird. I'm worried about you, Ana.
4. That part where CG calls Ana "Miss Smart Mouth"? That's the part where it seems like he's her dad and she's ten. I mean that's one of the parts. Well. This whole thing is that part? But of that whole thing that's that part, this part is the worst part.
5. What is Ana doing that makes it seem like she's not paying enough attention? Being a woman, probably. Right fellas? I feel like this whole thing is just one big, dumb "Ladies are bad at driving!" riff and it's amazing to me that this is an element of a popular novel. C'mon. Hacky comedians who do jokes about airplane food are reading this part about Ana being bad at driving and saying, "Yeah that looks a little tired." Because it's so tired. It's mutterblushing exhausted.

Oh, for heaven’s sake—and suddenly I’m catapulted back in time to when Ray was teaching me to drive. I don’t need another father. A husband maybe, a kinky husband. Hmm. 
At least she sees how patronizing her boyf is being. But like, c'mon. How is that her train of thought? "This guy is being a real asshole. Maybe I should marry him. Hmm." Interesting theory!

Later I guess Ana is going to accompany CG to a session with his therapist, Flynn. This is basically an opportunity for EL to explain some more about CG because his therapist is just allowed to say stuff about his character in a way that a non-therapist isn't. A chance for her to be like, "Hey I know we're like six hundred pages into this 'saga' but maybe now I can spend a little time introducing one of my main characters." It's weird how EL but scare-quotes around "saga" like I just did, isn't it? Oh well.

“I’ll walk you to work. Taylor will take me from there,” Christian offers. 
Get it? By "walk you to work" CG means "walk you from your workplace's parking lot to the front door of your workplace to make sure no funny stuff happens because I am uber jealous and don't trust you to walk for ten seconds alone." CG drives with Ana to work, but then Taylor is following them, so then CG is just going to get into a different car and go wherever. Haven't these people ever heard of carpooling? Take one car! Save the planet or whatever! No? Fine.

This scene ends with CG once again being all, "Hey so you gonna marry me? Are ya? Are ya?" And that is fun. Because it means that this is basically how the rest of the book is going to work: CG asking Ana if she's going to marry him, over and over, until she finally gets sick of it and says yes. #Romance!

I see no reason that any of the first few scenes of this chapter ought to have been included in this book, but hey! I'm not the international publishing phenomenon, so most likely I'm just wrong and, in fact, people do want to read about what Ana had for breakfast and they do want to read about Ana being treated like a ten year-old by her boyfriend. Probably I'm the one with weird taste!

But really, this first part of Chapter 17 is exactly the stuff that ought to get cut out of a book, but here I am, telling you about it.

And that's all I'm going to tell you about, because it's Tuesday, and my style is to offer this stuff to you on Tuesdays and so here you go. I'm most likely watching the World Cup. Tell  you what: why don't you take this week off too? Don't bother reading this. Just watch some soccer with me and try to forget about how terrible this book is for a little while. You're welcome. 

No comments: