Tuesday, January 13, 2015

50 Shad3s: Chapter 2 part 1

CG is mad about Ana taking her top off but a jet ski cheers him up a little. 

So. Chapter 2.

I'm having a harder time sticking with this. I think it's weakened me, in general. Like, I think I used to be kind of smart or whatever. But I think I'm less smart now than when I started. I think that this is actually making me a worse person? Reading this book? Thinking about this book? I've become that piece of cheese that you find in the back of the fridge, and you open it up, and you're like, "Huh. Well. This looks like cheese. And it's something in the blue family; it was always moldy. But was it this moldy? Is this safe to eat?"

I was always moldy. But was I always this moldy? I don't know. You tell me.

So where were we?

Our story thus far:

Ana Steele is married to billionaire / kink-enthusiast / child-abuse survivor Christian Grey. He is domineering and they are usually upset with each other except for when they're having sex. 

  1. Ana takes her top off on a beach while reminiscing about the wedding and Christian gets mad.
Not off to a very good start! Hey. Onwards, I guess. 

Let me complain about a thing that happens a lot in this book, which has to do with the mix of the first-person narration, and the present tense. Check out this sentence:

I am suddenly very awake, my erotic dream forgotten.

What do you think? Logical impossibility? An acceptable exaggeration?

Ok so. When you say, "Oh I forgot about that!" regardless of what "that" is, what you're saying is really that you remember. You had forgotten a thing, but now you remember it. So did Ana really forget her "erotic" dream? Or would it be better to say that the dream was interrupted? I guess I don't really know or care, but I point this out because when you're writing in the present tense, you just have to push forward. "I am rudely awakened from my basic-cable sex dream." That would be more honest, on various levels. A narrator can't actually be aware of the act of forgetting. Only remembering. An omniscient narrator can say "Ana forgets about her basic-cable sex dream." But Ana can't. Not really.

Anyway. CG is all pissy that Ana is not properly covering her shame. Ana really doesn't let us know what she thinks about any of this. I kind of liked the idea of Ana needling CG by taking off her top. I'm disappointed that she abandons it so quickly. In the past chapter, she seemed interested in purposefully angering the guy, perhaps to her own advantage. But then as soon as she succeeds, She's like, "Oh never mind!"

And on the one hand, that's fair. Maybe she miscalculated; maybe she thought CG would be like, fun-mad and instead, he flips his shit and is danger-mad and so she backs down. Makes sense. But she should reflect on it, right? Think about how angry he gets? And get the hell away from him because he's a monster?

Nope! She immediately takes his side.
“Christian, no one is looking.”
“Trust me. They’re looking. I’m sure Taylor and the security crew are enjoy
ing the show!” he snarls.
Holy shit! Why do I keep forgetting about them? I grasp my breasts in panic, hiding them. Ever since Charlie Tango’s sabotaged demise, we are constantly shadowed by damned security. 
For those of you who haven't endured this whole mess, Charlie Tango was CG's pet name for his helicopter. Also I can't remember whether or not CG ever determined that it had, in fact, been sabotaged. I kinda think that this might be news? That in the last book, the chopper problems were just regarded as a baffling mystery, and not explicitly labeled sabotage. But researching this further would require actually going back and looking at that other book and I don't want to read this book once, let alone read that other shitcano twice.

But see how Ana just goes with it? Ana has been shadowed by CG's security goons for many hundreds of pages. That shit started a long time ago. It was pretty much constant starting at the beginning of the second book, so I don't believe Ana when she says she keeps forgetting about this thing that's happening all the time. But also, that's shitty of CG to sell out his trusted right-hand man, right? I like Taylor way more than Christian. That due has a little girl! Taylor is a family man!

Ana's reaction makes it sound like she's only now considering the notion that someone might see her if she goes topless on a public beach with lots of other people. "Oh shit you mean people can see me? Sight isn't a magical power reserved for me and me alone?"

EL doesn't even include an extra sentence here to confirm CG's assertion. Ana could look over and see a security goon being all

Right? And then, I, the reader, would have a reason to trust that yes, CG hired a bunch of lechers and they are totes checking out Ana. But instead, I just get CG's paranoid insistence, which I don't actually trust. 

I don't really trust this book, in general.

Have you ever had that thing happen where you're listening to somebody tell you a story and you don't believe it? And you're kind of trying to figure out exactly how much is being fabricated? Whether it's a simple exaggeration, or straight-up fantasy?

There are moments where I feel like that while I'm reading this book.

Now I know, on an intellectual level, that this is the text. Meaning that there is now higher authority on this book than the book itself. It doesn't matter, really, what anyone says about the book, or what I think about the book or what I think makes sense. If the book says a thing happened, it happened in the world of the book and if Ana and Christian are worrying about a thing, then, as the reader, I guess I have to accept their concerns as valid. I have to accept that, in the 50 Shadesiverse, the concerns that they express have actual weight. The things they're worried about could actually happen.


Sometimes, not exactly. Sometimes, things happen in this book and my brain just sort of rejects them. Meaning that at times, I reject the notion that the text itself holds legitimate authority over the events in this story.

It's different when you're talking about an unreliable narrator. The thing with unreliable narrators is that, even if you don't trust the person telling the story, you tend to accept the notion that there is a "real" set of events that the narrator is obscuring. There's some higher level, beyond the narrator, and there is truth in that higher level.

That's not what's going on here. It's not that I ever think that Ana is misleading me. It's more that the text introduces ideas that are so loopy that I sometimes just can't even handle it. I reject the truth  of the story, even when the story insists that an element is, indeed, the truth.

Here we go:

“Yes,” Christian snarls. “And some sleazy fucking paparazzi could get a shot of you, too. Do you want to be all over the cover of Star magazine? Naked this time?” 
Shit! The paparazzi! Fuck! As I hurriedly scramble into my top, all thumbs, the color drains from my face. I shudder. The unpleasant memory of being besieged by the paparazzi outside SIP after our engagement was leaked comes unwelcome to mind—all part of the Christian Grey package. 
So this book is asking me to accept the idea that CG and Ana are getting followed around by paps. You know how you're like buying groceries or whatever? And you get tired of silently judging the people in front of you for their weird groceries so you start reading tabloid covers and you're like, "Oh, snap! Yahoo! CEO Marissa Meyer is looking fiiiiiiiiiine in her beach vaycay photos!"

Right? That's totally plausible, right? That Tim Cook can't eat at Baume without a buncha paparazzi taking his photo and being like, "Tim! Tim! Whose untucked oxford are you wearing tonight? Tim! Tim!"

This is the shit I'm talking about: I reject the notion that paparazzi give a shit about Christian Grey. I don't accept it. The book is telling me that this is a thing, but I don't believe it. I'm writing it off as some weird delusion. Maybe CG is gaslighting Ana so she thinks he's more important than he really is? Dunno. Don't care.

He pulls on his shorts, even though his trunks are dripping wet, then his gray
T-shirt. The waitress is back in a moment with his credit card and the check. 

Why the shit is he doing this? C'mon. Who has ever done that? Nobody, right? Literally nobody. Putting dry shorts on over his wet trunks? Or wearing shorts over his trunks at all? Ridonkulous.

Oh also? The waitress is back "with his credit card and the check." A) I doubt it. I bet she's got a sweet portable one. Get it together, America! Europeans are like, a decade ahead of us in credit card technology! And considering our collective, crippling credit card debt, we should at least get those portable card readers because those things are dope and B) the check is not what comes back with your credit card. Just have CG throw down some euros. That makes way more sense. He wants to peace out in a hurry? So he just throws down something crazy like fifty euros on a four euro check because he's too rich to be bothered with smaller denominations.

You see how this book makes me? How angry it makes me? Like we're one page into this thing. Let's compare my word count to EL's at this point, for the chapter. EL: 245. AE: 1601. I'm working at 1/6th of EL's efficiency right now. This is a disaster.

And I can't stop! 

Ana goes through a counter argument, but she doesn't actually say it out loud. Just thinks it. "Every other woman on the beach is topless—it’s not that big of a crime. In fact I look odd with my top on."

Instead she just asks him not to be mad, and he just acts murdery.

“Too late for that,” he says quietly—too quietly. “Come.” Taking my hand, he signals up to Taylor and his two sidekicks, the French security officers Philippe and Gaston. Weirdly, they are identical twins. They have been patiently watching us and everyone else on the beach from the verandah. Why do I keep forgetting about them? How? Taylor is stony-faced behind his dark glasses. Shit, he’s mad at me, too. I’m still not used to seeing him so casually dressed in shorts and a black polo shirt. 

Here's a fun digression: a list of variations on the phrase "quiet--too quiet."  What shitty writing. But also, whenever anything happens quietly--too quietly? It means someone is about to get mutterblushing murdered. Let us not forget that the "crisis" that ended the previous chapter was just CG being angry. Typically, when the stakes rise in this series, they rise because of a selfish choice on the part of Christian.

Hey do you know what the literary term is for a character who's always doing selfish things that raise the stakes? That's the villain! I mean, yeah. Doesn't have to be the villain exclusively but I do like reminding us periodically that CG is the love interest but he's also, in a plot-sense, the villain. Yay.

But let's keep this going because, again. I literally can't stop. I just keep going deeper. This is like Inception where like, if you go down too many levels, your shit gets pretty messed up. That's my problem. I just keep going in too deep? And if you go down too many levels you can't get out? I guess? Sorry. I only saw that movie once but I remember something about levels and also that Juno was there.

Ok! Philippe and Gaston! Identical twins! This is ridiculous on two levels. First? That's mutterblushing ridiculous that EL brings in any of these details. I mean, for real? Identical twins? It's just madness to introduce such a specific, unlikely detail about these characters who don't matter at all. 

And anyway. Philippe and Gaston obviously just aren't identical twins because c'mon. Gaston looks like this:

And Philipe looks like this:

EL is just perpetuating the offensive stereotype that all French people / horses look alike and they totally don't.

What a garbage paragraph. The stupid details about nothing. Ana once again shaming herself for forgetting plot points. Oh and get your adverb act together, EL. "Weirdly, they are identical twins." This is a common usage but it sounds dumb and is not correct. The fact that they're identical twins (Editor's note: which Alden and the entire editorial board reject outright.) is pretty goddamn weird, sure. But an adverb like "weirdly" has to modify a verb, which in this case, is the verb "to be." Meaning that the way they are existing is weird. They're existing in a weird way. That doesn't really make sense. Plus it just makes EL look insecure. She's admitting that this is a goofy-ass choice that she's made, as though admitting it will make it any less goofy-ass. EL: if you're going to put weird shit into your book, and I know you are? Just go for it. Just put that weird shit in, and just be like, "What? I could literally pay to have you killed and erased from history because I'm so mutterblushing wealthy. So fuck you if you think it's weird. They're identical twins because I've got a thing for French identical twin security guards."

Wait do you think that EL has done that? Probably not. Yet. Haven't heard much from her lately, tho, you know? Been quiet. Too quiet.

They storm out all tense and miserable, back to their boat, which is called Fair Lady. That's almost clever, but not.

I have no idea of the time. I think it must be about five or six in the afternoon.
A) I don't care. B) Well, if you were curious, you could look at your mutterblushing phone like a regular person. And C) I don't care what time it is. It's completely pointless and has no bearing on the story whatsoever so why is it in the book?

Then Ana puts on a lifejacket and they ride on a jet ski and EL capitalizes it but I don't because I don't care. Come at me, big jet ski! See if I care! I mean look at me! Look at this blog! It will be obvious to you that I am a man who cannot be threatened. Look at what I'm willing to do to myself. Imagine, then, how far you would have to go to break me. So far. So, so far.

Then they ride on the jet ski out to their fancy boat and then everything is fine because jet skis are magical devices that fix relationships.

Here try and makes some sense of this, wouldja?

“You think I’m going to punish you?” Christian’s voice is silky. “Do you want to?” “Yes.” “How?”
“I’ll think of something. Maybe when you’ve had your drink.” And it’s a sensual threat. I swallow, and my inner goddess squints from her sun lounger where she’s trying to catch rays with a silver reflector fanned out at her neck. 

Srsly. What the fuck is going on here?

Ok so again we're in this awkward space where we can't figure out if Ana is like, legit concerned for her well-being, or whether she looking forward to being "punished." Right?

But what is this inner goddess shit? What the fuck is EL trying to express using this image? I can't tell. Just can't tell. Usually, inner goddess is the horny one who encourages Ana to make bad decisions, while subconscious is the grumpy one who alternates between encouraging Ana to play it safe and reveling in Ana's misfortune. They're a weird trio, those three.

But what's inner goddess doing here? I just don't know. I just don't know.

Oh on this same page? CG's "mouth presses into a hard line" like it always goddamn does. Another of those clichés EL invented for herself. That's what everyone does when they get angry.

“You want to be?”How does he know? “Depends,” I mutter, flushing.
They're talking about Ana getting punished. Which now I guess she wants? I don't know what's going on. The line between horny and terrified is so, so thin in this book and I hate it a lot. I've mentioned that before, maybe? Maybe. Can't remember.

But mostly I pasted that bit in because of the end. I mutter, flushing. So now the new swear is mutterflushing because EL literally said it in this shitty, shitty book. So that's the official swear. Mutterblushing is old and busted and mutterflushing is the new hotness.

“On what?” He hides his smile. “If you want to hurt me or not.” His mouth presses into a hard line, humor forgotten. He leans forward and
kisses my forehead. “Anastasia, you’re my wife, not my sub. I don’t ever want to hurt you. You should know that by now. Just . . . just don’t take your clothes off in public. I don’t want you naked all over the tabloids. You don’t want that, and I’m sure your mom and Ray don’t want that either.” 
 I'm skipping over the shit about the tabloids because you remember why. I don't believe in the tabloids.

But um. It was not verrrrrry long ago that CG explicitly said that he enjoyed hurting Ana. Why? Because she reminds him of his dead mom. ROMANTIC!

Anyway next CG gets a phone call about some type of business bullshit. And at that point Ana starts thinking about their prenups and sets up another pointless flashback. They're already married! That's all I need to know!

And that's where we're going to leave things for now. I just might be too angry to continue? Or, at least, I know it's too late for me to continue. FTB. FTB, my friends.

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