I know I'm supposed to be doing the author interviews - and I will - soon. But, first, I have tell you about Fifty Shades of Grey and 11/22/63. They couldn't be more different, but they have one thing in common for me - I liked them both. Actually, I LOVED 11/22/63 and liked Fifty Shades.
11/22/63, by Steven King. This makes my top 100 all-time list. This book is just excellent. Everybody knows what it's about, but I will recap anyway. Jake Epping, a 35-year old teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, is told of a portal to the past by the local diner owner, Al. This portal is located in Al's storeroom at his diner and always takes him to the same day in 1958. When Al gets too sick to go, he enlists Jake to take over for him. Al's mission - prevent JFK's assassination.
The book does an amazing job of blending the present and the past. Everything that happens to Jake (aka George Amberson in 1958) is very plausible. I've had a few people tell me that they are not Steven King fans. Neither am I. The only King book I've read in the last 20 years was The Stand (again courtesy of Phil), and I liked it. But this is not typical Steven King. As I said in my very brief post earlier this week, READ THIS BOOK!
That brings me to Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James. Where do I begin? I brought a lot of pre-conceived notions into reading this. I thought that it was going to be poorly written and that the whole book was basically about BDSM (look it up - I did). Well, I was wrong. I liked this book. I did not think it was poorly written at all. In fact, she uses a couple of tricks that I thought were particularly clever. I'll get to those in a minute.
Do I really need to go over the "plot?" I don't think so. The Aborigines in the Outback of Australia know what the story is about. But just in case you've been in a coma for the last year - or were kidnapped by aliens and only recently returned to Mother Earth - let me give a (very) brief synopsis. A 21-year old Washington State University student, Anastasia Steele, who is almost graduating, interviews a 27-year old wunderkind/genius, Christian Grey, CEO of a large local company. She is doing this only because her roommate, the editor of the school newspaper, is sick and unable to conduct the interview. What ensues is a whole bunch of fireworks.
The back cover of the book tells us that the website Good Reads had this as a finalist for romance of the year. I concur. I think the book is very romantic. Yes there's quite a bit of graphic sex in it (but not until page 113), but the book is much more about their relationship than it is about the sex. And as for the "tricks" E.L. James employs, there are a couple that worked well for me. One was how Anastasia constantly refers to her subconscious and her inner goddess and how they react in any given situation. I thought that was really clever and oftentimes very funny. I also liked when Anastasia and Christian exchanged emails. Those were also clever and humorous. These are definitely not the gimmicks of an author who is just going through the motions and using throw-away dialogue to get to the next sex scene.
Here's the most important aspect of the book (in my humble opinion). This is the first time that women have been given permission to read erotica. Before this book, erotica was always the province of men. I think it's great that everybody can now read a mainstream erotic book (even if I did carry the book with me with the back cover facing out!). I think that this is great.
I haven't really addressed the sex scenes. I thought they were okay, but Jasmine Haynes' were more graphic and more titillating (good choice of words, eh?). If you read Past Midnight as a comparison, you'll see the difference. But that doesn't change the fact that millions of people now have the okay to read erotica in public settings. How can that not be a good thing?
QUESTION: When James writes "There's a hint of pity hidden in the depths of his eyes," is that even possible? Most authors attribute multiple emotions (at the same time!) to eyes. Does that really happen? Can someone see "...pity hidden in the depths..." of a person's eyes? Just asking.