Feature

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

“Mommy porn” is sweeping the country.

(Vintage, $16)

So this is what the future of book publishing looks like, said Julie Bosman in The New York Times. It’s been called “mommy porn” and “Twilight for grown-ups.” Whatever it’s labeled, Fifty Shades of Grey and its two sequels have “electrified women across the country.” With more than 250,000 e-book copies sold, this erotic trilogy has been scorching Nooks and Kindles nationwide and is set to arrive in print on April 3 with a 750,000-copy print run from the “highbrow” U.S. publisher Vintage Books. Its author, a British television executive, created the story by fantasizing about the sex lives of the lovers in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight vampire series. She wasn’t done with her “fan fiction” tribute until she’d renamed the couple and turned Meyer’s tame canoodlings into “graphic, heavy-breathing erotica,” complete with bondage and whips.

Call James’s series a “one-click wonder,” said Lizzie Skurnick in TheDailyBeast.com. Grey’s success is testament to how electronic sharing has changed the way audiences find material to read. Grey isn’t a book so much as it’s “the ne plus ultra of emails,” a “woman-to-woman pass-along” of epic proportions. You can imagine how it caught fire when it was first released by an e-publishing site that doubles as a social-networking community. Twilight’s Bella Swan has become Anastasia Steele, a virginal college student who becomes the submissive of Christian Grey, who’s not a vampire but a corporate magnate with a taste for sadomasochism. This is something new in trash fiction—“bad literature that’s all bad, with no story to truck it along.”

Don’t knock the first book until you’ve read it, said Lisa Schwarzbaum in Entertainment Weekly. James won’t be shortlisted for any literary prizes, but women aren’t reading her for her prose. Odds are, thousands of American women are at this moment “in a state of arousal, amusement, or, at the very least, amazement at the ingenuity and imagination with which James has made steamy female-centric erotica” out of a relationship story that they already loved.

Recommended

Zelensky warns Russians against firing from nuclear plant
School damaged by Russian shelling in Zaporizhzhia Oblast
fortunes of war

Zelensky warns Russians against firing from nuclear plant

10 things you need to know today: August 14, 2022
Pro-Trump demonstrators near Mar-a-Lago
Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: August 14, 2022

Report: Arctic heating nearly 4 times faster than rest of Earth
A bear stands on melting sea ice
more bad news

Report: Arctic heating nearly 4 times faster than rest of Earth

10 things you need to know today: August 13, 2022
Nancy Pelosi and other House Democrats
Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: August 13, 2022

Most Popular

Justice Department investigating Southern Baptist Convention over handling of sex abuse
Demonstrators at the 2018 Southern Baptist Convention meeting
church and state

Justice Department investigating Southern Baptist Convention over handling of sex abuse

9 toons about the Mar-a-Lago raid
Political Cartoon.
Feature

9 toons about the Mar-a-Lago raid

Tulsi Gabbard fills in on Tucker Carlson Tonight
Tulsi Gabbard
a match made in heaven

Tulsi Gabbard fills in on Tucker Carlson Tonight