E-l-james

Is EL James’s New Novel ‘Grey’ An ‘American Psycho’?

Do you like spending time with sexist, misogynist and emotionally-retarded stalkers and/or psychopaths? Nup, me either, which is why EL James’s Grey – which hit book shops on June 18 – reads more like a sex offender’s diary, or a crazed maniac stalking his prey ala American Psycho, than an alleged erotic novel.

RELATED: Top 10 Erotica Films Hotter Than Fifty Shades 

I don’t like it; in fact I loathe it more than the original Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, which is saying something. To be honest, I was initially intrigued to read it for this review, because I found EL James’s writing so fascinatingly bad in the trilogy, I wanted to see if she’d perfected her craft or finally got herself a decent book editor. Incidentally, Grey is the original blockbuster rehashed “through the eyes of Christian Grey”. Vomit.

And the answer to the above is a big, resounding no. For me, EL James’s ridiculous, runaway success with Fifty Shades of Grey is due to her capturing a zeitgeist – the public’s insatiable appetite for erotica, BDSM fantasy and/or escapism, soft-porn – rather than any actual real writing ability on her part. Grey, like Fifty Shades of Grey, is clumsy, repetitive, extremely unpalatable and irritating at best. In fact, it’s the antithesis of sexually arousing literature, if you ask me. I don’t mind reading trash, but it had better be good trash.

sex, Fifty Shades of Grey, erotica, Grey

Just one example of EL James’ many writing fails: On pages 5 and 6, there are no less than three references to the fact that Miss Anastasia Steele does, in fact, have brown hair. What the actual fuck? Did no one go through this thing with a red pen (if even a virtual one)? And who the hell cares so much about the heroine’s godforsaken hair? Is it central to the plot? Why didn’t anyone rein the author (pictured) in?!

Then there’s all the millions (okay, maybe not that many) of Christian’s creepy, salivating, first-person, maladroit references to the fact that Ana, as she prefers to be known, is “very young.” It’s just pure bad taste, a lot of it – if you thought Christian was plain unlikable in Fifty Shades, you should read Grey! EL James must have a very dim view of men and their base natures, as Christian seemingly rarely has a thought that’s not sexual, demeaning to women and/or punctuated by “cock” or “fuck” or “baby.” He’s akin to a damaged, emotionally-retarded fuckwit with all the maturity of a school boy.

And, hilariously, in Grey, Christian makes multiple references to his therapist – the poor soul clearly isn’t doing a very good job with this client!? He’s such an offensive, nasty and distasteful character, the book is intensely cringe-worthy reading from page 1. I did my best, dear reader, to devour the book in a few days for this feature, but I made it to page 33 and I just can’t go on, sorry. It’s killing me! I can’t even be bothered skipping to the sex scenes because I care so little about such a repulsive male protagonist.

What was EL James thinking?! Did we really need a novel seen from the eyes of Christian and his penis? Surely, for many women, Grey diminishes a lot of Fifty Shades’ narrow charm and appeal, as seen through the eyes of an awkward virgin who falls in love for the first time? While Fifty Shades may have reminded us of the harrowing angst and discomfort of first love, Grey takes us to an ugly, dark place I certainly don’t care to revisit in the limited time I have to read as a busy working mum of two toddlers.

erotica, Fifty Shades of Grey, submissive

And the fact that US fans queued around the block for the release of this sadistic, nasty, little novel hurts my head. Surely they were bitterly disappointed upon reading it? Interestingly, Grey was already heavily discounted on sale at MYER, where I bought it, on the day of its release. Is this a clever marketing ploy to sell truckloads of books, and/or are they expecting it to be a sales disaster? Did it set even one woman’s pulse racing? I wonder.

Then there’s the book’s aforementioned sinister subject matter to consider. Is this something young women are reading and aspiring to – relationships with violent, damaged emotionally-challenged fuckwits with stalker tendencies? Some media commentators have even accused EL James of glorifying domestic violence with Grey; they say it gives far too much credence and sexed-up appeal to the soul-sucking, often life-ending reality of the cruel, dangerous and self-esteem-sapping emotional, sexual and physical violence many women are subjected to these days.

Celebrated Brisbane erotica author Krissy Kneen (pictured), who’s no fan of either Fifty Shades or its recent film adaptation starring beautiful, young Dakota Johnson and Irish hottie Jamie Dornan, is equally despairing of Grey. Krissy, who’s arguably Australia’s most accomplished sex writer, released her new erotic adventure The Adventures of Holly White and the Incredible Sex Machine, published by Text Publishing, on April 22.

sex, Fifty Shades of Grey, erotica, Grey

And, like me, Krissy abhors EL James’s clumsy writing and struggled to find any joy and/or appeal in Grey. To be fair, I did ask for her thoughts on the book when she was only nine pages into reading it. So, why does the author think Grey is such an awkward, uninteresting mess – indeed, not even a hot mess?

“Well, at only nine pages, I have underlined a clunking moment of telling not showing: ‘I hate the unexpected’. Right – well if you hate it, show it through action not just by telling us,” Krissy says. “Also, it seems Anastasia and Christian have eye-rolling in common. She so often rolls her eyes and he says: ‘I resist rolling my eyes’ on page 5.

“I’m so bored by page 9, I am so tempted to skip forward to the sex, but I will resist just as Christian is resisting sexualising Anastasia on page 7 because she is ‘too young’. At least there will not be any ‘inner goddesses’ in this [as per Fifty Shades] – I hope not.

“So far, it seems to be of a similar quality [to Fifty Shades]. I am really irritated by the asides in italics. I am just glad we don’t have any ‘holy hells’ or ‘inner goddesses dancing’. I will be interested to see how she handles the sex from a male perspective. I can’t see how it won’t become very ‘rapey’ in her hands. I did hate how we started with a flashback to Grey as a damaged child. I can tell where this is going and I am uneasy already.”

Do you mean EL James is trying to garner sympathy for Christian’s controlling and sadistic tendencies and emotional fuckwittage, I ask?

“I mean yet again angering the S&M community who are not ‘damaged’ people,” counters the author, “Those sexual practices have little to do with damage as a child.”

What do you think? Is Grey a stinking pile of shit or a masterpiece?

Images via Vanity Fair, 680news.com, Fox News

June 22, 2015

Top 10 Erotica Films Hotter Than Fifty Shades

Long before the highly anticipated Fifty Shades Of Grey film broke box office records and both titillated and outraged movie audiences, erotica films have existed. And arguably much better ones too!

Celebrated Brisbane erotica author Krissy Kneen (pictured), who’s no fan of either E L James’s blockbuster book Fifty Shades of Grey and its new film adaptation starring beautiful, young Dakota Johnson and Irish hottie Jamie Dornan, knows a thing or two about a good, lusty romp.

erotica, erotica films, Fifty Shades of Grey

The award-winning author has penned Swallow the Sound, a collection of short erotic fiction and her memoir, Affection, was published in 2009 and shortlisted for the Queensland Premier’s Literary Award and the ABIA Award in 2010.

Her erotic adventure, Triptych, was published in 2011, while Steeplechase, published in 2013, was her first non-erotic novel. In addition, Kneen’s new erotic adventure The Adventures of Holly White and the Incredible Sex Machine, published by Text Publishing, hits all good book stores on April 22. It’s said to be a “literary sci-fi superhero sex romp from Australia’s genre-bending queen of erotica.”

erotica, erotica films, Fifty Shades of Grey

Renowned for her witty and seductive, sexy and funny prose, here Australia’s most accomplished sex writer shares her top 10 favourite erotica films. What’s more, Kneen believes they’re guaranteed to blow your hair back in ways Fifty Shades of Grey – both the book and the film – never could. “I found Fifty Shades of Grey very hard to read because it made me cranky just how appalling the writing is. It’s really bad, the main character says ‘Holy crap!’ or ‘Holy cow’ or “Oh gee’ ad nauseum,” she says.

“You couldn’t go from Fifty Shades to my books in one go unless you were disappointed in it and you’d read the classics, like the Story of O, which is incredibly transgressive. “With the main character, the more she is tortured and chooses to be tortured, the more powerful and amazing she becomes as a character and the more ethereal and the more she transcends.”

And as for the film, Kneen says Fifty Shades of Grey  is “boring as batshit.” When I ask the author for a list of her top 5 favourite erotica films, she ends up giving me a list of her top 10. “I do have some erotic films in mind, but possibly the eros doesn’t translate to sex scenes,” she says.

“[They are] Not always the most skin-on-skin, but definitely eros on screen. I have given my top 5, but I am including 10 because they are all so good!” So, without further ado, here are Kneen’s top 10 erotica films of all time:

  1. Henry and June (pictured)
  2. Brief Crossing
  3. Betty Blue (main shot and pictured below)
  4. Under the Skin
  5. Lust Caution
  6. Y Tu Mama También
  7. Cat People
  8. 9 Songs
  9. Secretary
  10. My Summer of Love

erotica, erotica films, Fifty Shades of Grey  erotica, erotica films, Fifty Shades of Grey

So, dim the lights, pour yourself a wine and check them out, ladies. Enjoy!

March 4, 2015

Fifty Shades Of Grey Sex Balls: Fact Vs Fiction

“Trust me?” he asks.

I nod. He holds out his hand, and in his palm are two shiny silver balls linked with a thick black thread.

“These are new,” he says emphatically.

I look questioningly up at him.

“I am going to put these inside of you, and then I’m going to spank you, not for punishment, but for your pleasure and mine.” Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty Shades of Grey, sex, Ben Wa Balls

Ben Wa Balls, Kegal Balls, Luna Beads, Burmese bells, Orgasm Balls, Geisha Balls: call them what you will, but these small, marble-sized weighted balls now have a centre-stage role thanks to erotic blockbuster Fifty Shades of Grey.

The extract above is from the 2011 E L James bestselling book. It remains to be seen if the sex balls, as I like to call them, will feature as prominently in the highly anticipated film adaptation due out around February 12.

RELATED: The Fifty Shades Of Grey Phenomenon

The first book in the erotic trilogy, about a virginal 21-year-old college gal and the 27-year-old billionaire who love a bit of rough play, Fifty Shades has caused sales of sex toys, bondage and S&M gear to skyrocket both nationally and internationally. And the classic Ben Wa Balls, or various versions of them, have been flying off the shelves too, ever since.

The weighted balls are worn inside the vagina and have long been used to strengthen pelvic floor muscles – but can they, as Fifty Shades of Grey’s female protagonist Anastasia Steele experiences – also bring you to orgasm?

Fifty Shades of Grey, sex, Ben Wa Balls

 

In the book, Anastasia suddenly turns nympho – “needy for sex” ­– after wearing said balls and almost has an orgasm after infamous male protagonist Christian Grey “jerks them out…suddenly”.

So, can we expect the same, if we wear the balls in real life? Sadly, no.

Leading Australian sexologist Dr Nikki Goldstein says do your research before use when it comes to the balls and, importantly, they’re not recommended for young girls. “On a pelvic floor basis, these balls are great,” Dr Goldstein says. “They can strengthen your muscles and aid bladder control.

“They’re also great if you forget to do your pelvic floor exercises (also called Kegel exercises).”

But what about the big O? Surely, Fifty Shades of Greys famous sex scene isn’t a fake?! Dr Goldstein says strong pelvic floor muscles can help you to have more orgasms, and strengthen the intensity of your big Os, but as for the balls themselves, it’s not the usual practice for them to be used for sexual enjoyment. What the hell E L James?!

“For some people, the more weighted ones can put pressure on the vaginal canal and rub on the G-spot,” she says. “And some people also insert them in the vaginal canal during anal sex.

“But I’d be reluctant to tell people to use them exclusively for sexual pleasure.”

Note well, ladies: do not put the sex balls in your anus as there’s a high likelihood the balls will, erm, disappear, according to Dr Goldstein.

Fifty Shades of Grey, sex, Ben Wa Balls

So, what’s the moral of the story here, ladies?

“Do not use Fifty Shades of Grey as a text book on sex!” Dr Goldstein says. “It’s a fantasy novel, not a sex education book.

“But it just goes to show that people are craving information about sex topics.

“My final advice would be definitely do not expect to almost have an orgasm just by using the balls.”

Does spanking by a hot man help?

For more information on Dr Goldstein, visit drnikki.com.au.

What do you think? Have you tried using the sex balls?

Secondary image via fiftyshadesaddicted.com;  book image via www.npr.org and cartoon via www.wheresmyglow.com.

January 27, 2015

The Fifty Shades of Grey Phenomenon

It’s hard to think of a more divisive female protagonist – or a novel for that matter – than Fifty Shades of Grey and its overtly submissive, cotton-tails-wearing central character, Anastasia Steele.

I am not a great fan of either, but love it or loathe it; you cannot ignore the erotic blockbuster. It’s had a profound effect on the literary world and its highly anticipated film adaptation (yawn) will hit our cinemas next February (pictured).

erotica, Fifty Shades of Grey, submissive

Related: What Are Sex Contracts And Do You Need One?

Fifty Shades of Grey critics have called the book “S&M for dummies”, “erotica for the BIG W crowd” and “mummy porn”. But is it empowering or degrading?

Did you, upon reading it, feel so turned on and liberated, that you rushed out and bought S&M gear? Or, like me, did you cringe at the “vanilla” sex and Anastasia’s virginal awkwardness, clumsiness and submissiveness? When I read the 2011 E L James bestseller, my inner word nerd was too horrified by the clumsy writing for it to blow my hair back.

And, if you’ve been living under a rock, here’s a quick synopsis: a virginal 21-year-old college gal and the 27-year-old billionaire meet and enjoy a bit of rough play. He’s a bit of a controlling, arrogant dick, and she is torn between her illicit feelings for him and what she should feel… (OK, that’s not exactly the official synopsis. Why doesn’t she just dump him? Sigh).

erotica, Fifty Shades of Grey, submissive
Popular and highly acclaimed, self-described “sex writer”, Brisbane author Krissy Kneen, 43, (pictured below) is no fan of E L James either.

She is the author of Swallow the Sound, a collection of short erotic fiction; her 2009 memoir, Affection, was shortlisted for the Queensland Premier’s Literary Award and the ABIA Award in 2010; her erotic adventure, Triptych, was published in 2011; and Steeplechase, published in 2013, was her first non-erotic novel.

In addition, Kneen’s been busy reading classic erotica for the last two years researching her new erotic adventure Holly’s Incredible Adventures in the Sex Machine (working title) due to be published in 2015.

“I found Fifty Shades of Grey very hard to read because it made me cranky just how appalling the writing is. It’s really bad, the main character says ‘Holy crap!’ or ‘Holy cow’ or ‘Oh gee’ ad nauseum,” she says.

“And I was in the middle of writing a novel and I tend to get influenced by what I’m reading, so I felt I couldn’t write at all while I was reading the book. I had to skip through it really quickly – it was such bad writing I was worried my own writing would take on elements of it.

“I think it’s sad it’s sold so many copies because it says something about our society. I don’t consider it a book product – it sells well to people who aren’t readers.”

erotica, Fifty Shades of Grey, submissive
Kneen abhors Fifty Shades’ overtly submissive female protagonist, Anastasia Steele because she’s not a powerful character. “I have a real problem with the fact that heroines like Anastasia are submissives and not in a Story of O kind of powerful way. She doesn’t want to be a submissive, which in my book means rape if someone if forcing you to do something you don’t want to do.”

On the other hand, sex shop traders inevitably adore the book and film franchise. For Fifty Shades has reportedly caused sales of sex toys and bondage and S&M gear to skyrocket both nationally and internationally.

Swedish intimate lifestyle company LELO, renowned for selling one of the world’s most expensive vibrators – a 24-carat, gold-plated number at US$13,500 a pop – has claimed its enjoyed a 400 per cent sales increase for its Luna Beads (aka pleasure beads or Ben Wa Balls) thanks to the Fifty Shades phenomenon.

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What do you think? Has Fifty Shades boosted your sex life or did you fall asleep reading it?

Main images at top via fanpop.com; cartoon via pinterest.com; Krissy Kneen image via blogs.crikey.com.au; and final image via cinemablend.com

November 25, 2014