By Far the Best Review of Fifty Shades of Grey – Andrew O’Hagan’s ‘Traveling South’

For someone who doesn’t think sex belongs on the page, Andrew O’Hagan has certainly read a lot of it. Of course, you can imagine, I disagree with him. Sex, like all other facets of life, does belong on the page. But like all other facets of life, it deserves to be well-written.  Although he is probably a little to embarrassed to admit it, I think he does too. Because he manages to point out exactly what is so stinkingly wrong about Fifty Shades of Grey (and the fifty-thousand copycat e-books that a raft of publishers who’ve obviously lost any vestige of literary aspiration have lately published).

They [readers] are buying the books because the books invite them to be submissive too, not to punishment, but to a 1980s-style dominance of money and power and products. (The word ‘flog’ has more than one meaning.

The review in in the LRB which requires a subscription, but you can listen to the podcast here. Anyone serious about writing good erotic fiction should read it and take it to heart.


4 Thoughts on “By Far the Best Review of Fifty Shades of Grey – Andrew O’Hagan’s ‘Traveling South’

  1. That was great, thank you. 🙂 I haven’t read these books, though I have them, and I’m not sure I ever will. I’ve tried and I can’t stand them. Even if I try to laugh at it, I can’t make it work. But this was a great review.

    • I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it here. I think it is important to read the first one at least. Because THIS IS THE STATE of erotica in the publishing world. And I guess I feel it behooves us to do the work and find out what that is in all its depressing glory.

  2. Sounds like a fair review to me, and an interesting argument that I think is pretty convincing. I’m pretty sure he’s not the only person who’s used it – for example I can remember reviews of popular writing in the 80s that were scathing about the way brand names were used in novels to denote power and prestige of characters, and the idea that the novels were little more than invites to crave certain products and the social identities they connoted. But the argument has, I think, stood the test of time and still works.

    • Actually, I think it was Chris Garcia Sanchez who pointed out to me that, in fact, it’s American Psycho, with worse writing and less gore. However, I’d call your attention to the date of this review, which is now quite old.

Leave a Reply

Post Navigation