Monday, July 8, 2013


As an update to my process of getting my career back on track, I've ordered study and practice test materials for the Comptia A+ certification, which I believe to be a reasonable way to begin making my way into the IT industry.  However, since there's little for me to do in that regard for the next couple of days (other than stalking the mail man) I have some thoughts of a more literary and entertaining nature to share.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm an avid reader.  I have a relatively huge ebook library, and I regularly add to it.  The books in my collection are from almost all genres, but there's few things I generally don't bother with as far as collecting ebooks.  There's no technical manuals, no Star Wars books, very few "house author" series,* and no romance novels.  Other than that, there's just about everything.  Self help, history, fantasy, science fiction, classics; you name it.

The most recent addition to my library, which was motivated by working in a department that is staffed almost entirely by women (¾ of which have raved about how amazing the series is) is E.L. James' Fifty Shades of Grey.

All I can say about this novel (and I'm using the term "novel" very loosely here), is that it makes me even happier to have married my wife; who was apparently the last sane and single woman on the planet before she married me (yes, I know that sentence was a little ambiguous.  Feel free to read it as you wish).  I feel a great tide of sympathy for any man who isn't already married, because single women seem to like this book, and you want to stay away from any woman who does.

Now, I don't consider myself to be particularly prudish.  My objection to this book isn't that there's a lot of adult content. (although I'd have a stroke if I had a teenage daughter and found her reading it)  I don't even object to the particulars of that content (although it's not for me)

My objection exists on two levels:

Level 1. This book is horribly written.  I can honestly say that this book is in a class almost by itself, sharing a shelf with Twilight.  If you were to remove every instance of the word, "murmur," from Fifty Shades of Grey, the book would be Fifty Pages Shorter.

Level 2. My much more serious objection comes from the fact that main character is possibly the dumbest person in the history of the human race.  Allow me to paint a scene for you...

A young and inexperienced woman at the end of her college career ends up briefly meeting and interviewing a billionaire, who happens to be absurdly attractive.  He's also a huge control freak, and kind of a jerk.

The next day, the same billionaire shows up in the girl's home town (4 hours away) at the hardware store where she works.  While there, he makes a point of seeking her out to assist with his purchases.  He buys zip ties, duct tape and rope.  All the while, making a series of increasingly bizarre comments, including talking about taking his clothes off while using his purchases.

The only thing that could have made this exchange any creepier, would have been if he'd also purchased a shovel and a bag of lime, and then asked if she knew where the nearest liquor store was.  Worse yet, rather than thinking, "wow, this guy is clearly stalking me and is all set to torture someone and then keep them quiet in the trunk of his car," she thinks, "Wow, I really don't understand what this guy is talking about.  He is so mysterious.  I suddenly want him more than I've ever wanted anyone."

This would be fine as the opening of, say, a bad horror movie.  But that's not what Fifty Shades of Grey is about.  I haven't finished the book (and I may not finish it), but it apparently continues through a series of situations where it becomes increasingly obvious that this guy is dangerous and literally tells her repeatedly that she should stay away from him, with the result that she becomes more infatuated, and ultimately his sex slave.

Welcome to Womens' Lib.

*If you're not familiar with the idea of a house author, it's frequently a pen name that is owned by a publisher rather than an author.  The publisher will hire out many different low-talent and/or unknown authors to write a large number of very formulaic books, and they'll all be published under the same pen name.  The best example I can think of off the top of my head would be the Death Lands series (post-apocalyptic fiction) by James Axler.  There is no such person as James Axler, and the books were actually written by more than half a dozen different authors.