James McArthur's picture
James McArthur from Potato is reading a book June 21, 2012 - 8:34pm

A family member of mine thinks 50 Shades of Grey is a good book. Is there anyhting I can say to convince her otherwise without having to read the whole thing (I've read excerpts, and I find it pretty damn aweful)?

 

I'm updating this to say I really regret posting it. It is something I should not have done and I did it in a moment where I was not thinking, merely acting through emotion without pausing to consider what I was saying. It's something I do often and this was not at all an acceptable thing for me to do. To a community of people who enjoy reading and literature in all its forms, I apologize.

PandaMask's picture
PandaMask from Los Angeles is reading More Than Human June 21, 2012 - 8:39pm

Just let people read what they want. As long as they're reading that's a good thing.

Bill Tucker's picture
Bill Tucker from Austin, Texas is reading Grimm's Fairy Tales (1st Edition) June 21, 2012 - 8:50pm

^ Truth. If I had to chose between being a successful hack or an unknown genius, I think I'd lean towards hack. Better to entertain millions with my meaningless drivel than blind three people with my greatness. Better for the greater good.

Bradley Sands's picture
Bradley Sands from Boston is reading Greil Marcus's The History of Rock 'N' Roll in Ten Songs June 21, 2012 - 8:57pm

They probably perceive it as good because either they don't usually read or they usually read stuff that is worse.

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig June 21, 2012 - 8:58pm

There's no accounting for taste, and really, anyone who comes in trying to convince another person that what they like is "drivel" is going to sound like an asshole--whether they've read the book or not. 

 

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig June 22, 2012 - 12:16am

Am I going to be the asshole that points out the spelling mistake in the post criticizing someone's writing?

Nah...

misskokamon's picture
misskokamon from San Francisco is reading The Moonlit Mind June 22, 2012 - 1:26am

I think John Steinbeck is pretty damn awful, but I don't tell people they don't have a right to call his work good. Or great. Or classic. Or whatever you'd like to call his work. And I've read a few of his books, not just excerpts.

We can complain about how we dislike certain works, but if we tell people what they should be thinking about said works, then we become douchésaurs. Instead, read the book and figure out what it is about it that makes it such a hit with the general public. 

Matt Attack's picture
Matt Attack from Richmond, Va. is reading As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner June 22, 2012 - 4:35am

A friend of mine at UVA says all the sad sorority girls think it is amazing. That should speak volumes about it alone. 

 

 

GaryP's picture
GaryP from Denver is reading a bit of this and that June 22, 2012 - 6:49am

Honestly, we should learn from it. I think it "proves" the point that if you can tell a compelling story, people will read it, regardless of the quality of the writing. To paraphrase Bill (above), you can be a genius with words, but it's the pure storyteller who is going to reach people. So what does the author do with her storytelling (and maybe it's just the mommy porn, and not the story, who knows) that has hooked so many people? The same can be asked of Twilight and The Da Vinci Code and countless others (which are better written than Gray, but they're not great writing).

Matt Attack's picture
Matt Attack from Richmond, Va. is reading As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner June 22, 2012 - 7:29am

I think writers in general are going to look at things like this differently already.

First, we're wordsmiths so we recognize the bull shit immediately.

Second, we're snarky as hell and can spot a horrible cliche a mile away.

Third, the average IQ for a writer would be around 115 (combined cognitive and verbal). I can almost guarantee most folks in here are pushing 120-130 with a couple easily pushing 140+. The average IQ for an adult in the US is 100. That's not to say we're superior in anyway based on a test, it is just further confirmation we don't read the same way as the public. 

Yeah 50 Shades, Anything written by Dan Brown, Twilight are all horribly shitty books, but storytelling is universal. If you bring enjoyment to someone, you should feel good about that and consider it a success. 

Chris Davis's picture
Chris Davis from Indiana is reading A Feast of Snakes by Harry Crews June 22, 2012 - 7:12am

Tell whoever it is that if they like 50 Shades of Grey they will Love (insert good book here). You can't explain shit writing to people until they have been exposed to something good to compare it to, and this way you don't have to make fun of someone and turn them off from reading. 

If they like 50 shades recommend Charlaine Harris (not something I personally like but a huge improvement in quality, and a TV show is based on it so its an easier sell).  When you have gained their trust with you first suggestion move on to Anne Rice, after that you can transition them into lesser known writers.  This is the method I used during the early days of Twilight and it worked fairly well.

FoxyLenz's picture
FoxyLenz from Shangri -L.I is reading Mists of Avalon June 22, 2012 - 7:59am

It's smut, but sometimes smut is good. Velveeta shells and cheese is not five star cuisine, mostly its chemical cheese like gelatinous goo and cardboard, but there are days when it makes my day. I'm kind of curious actually, just because I feel out of the loop. I need to swipe my mother's copy and paint the cover or something, so nobody sees me reading it.

GaryP's picture
GaryP from Denver is reading a bit of this and that June 22, 2012 - 8:44am

My wife read Gray out of curiosity (I think that makes it a gateway book), and said the writing was horrible, but the story kept her reading. And don't underestimate good PR. Everyone I know who's read it and is going to read it (I'm looking at you, Foxy), says the same thing because of all the hype: Now I'm (bi)curious. They expect the writing to be horrible, but they're still going to read it.

@Foxy. Agree. Now give me my Beefaroni!!

@Matt. "That's not to say we're superior" ... except that we are, of course. It's getting other people to accept it that's the hard part.

Matt Attack's picture
Matt Attack from Richmond, Va. is reading As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner June 22, 2012 - 8:48am

except that we are, of course. It's getting other people to accept it that's the hard part."

 

I would like to subscribe to your newsletter. 

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like June 22, 2012 - 8:59am

http://www.wtop.com/267/2874733/Dr-Drew-50-Shades-of-Grey-pathological-poorly-written

Does she indentify with it?  Or is she just into sensationalism? 

If the first, tell her she's a latent fascist.  If she's cool with that, well, you've got more to worry about than bad taste in books.

If the second, not much you can do.  After all, people liked the Saw movies too.

 

Actually, I've got a different approach:  Is 50 Shades really just porn?  Can we just say it's porn?  I mean, if it's just porn, the whole "why do people like it / it's not good writing" question no longer matters, because hey, it's porn.  Then we can just wonder why people like porn...

Strange Photon's picture
Strange Photon from Fort Wayne, IN is reading Laurie Anderson lyrics June 22, 2012 - 10:11am

I never understood why people have such a negative view of fascists - we're people too. If you say we aren't, we'll kill you!
 

Sorry, sometimes I just explode.

avery of the dead's picture
avery of the dead from Kentucky is reading Cipher Sisters June 22, 2012 - 10:29am

"Not God but a swastika
So black no sky could squeak through.
Every woman adores a Fascist,
The boot in the face, the brute
Brute heart of a brute like you."

Daddy - Sylvia Plath

 

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like June 22, 2012 - 10:26am

@Sylvia Plath  --  Man, I was about to post something really insensitive.

GaryP's picture
GaryP from Denver is reading a bit of this and that June 22, 2012 - 11:39am

Hey, it's porn

I'm putting that as the blurb on the cover of my first novel.

FoxyLenz's picture
FoxyLenz from Shangri -L.I is reading Mists of Avalon June 22, 2012 - 12:18pm

I'm sure it would sell...

FoxyLenz's picture
FoxyLenz from Shangri -L.I is reading Mists of Avalon June 22, 2012 - 3:26pm

Covewriter's picture
Covewriter from Nashville, Tennessee is reading & Sons June 22, 2012 - 10:47pm

There are a lot of commercial page-turning stories in which the writing sucks. I've been thinking about this a lot lately. If we can create great sentences AND move the story, that's awesome. Many bestsellers aren't that well written, but they do make you want to turn a page to find out what happened. I want to learn how to do both!  Oh and hey, don't go talking bad about Steinbeck!

PandaMask's picture
PandaMask from Los Angeles is reading More Than Human June 22, 2012 - 10:52pm

I saw this kid reading Green Eggs and Ham. I slapped it out of his hand and gave a copy of Crime and Punishment.

JEFFREY GRANT BARR's picture
JEFFREY GRANT BARR from Central OR is reading Nothing but fucking Shakespeare, for the rest of my life June 23, 2012 - 12:03am

No kidding CoveWriter, let's not degenerate into silliness.

Who's the better writer; God or John Steibeck?

Wrong, dickhead, trick question. Steinbeck IS God!

Matt Attack's picture
Matt Attack from Richmond, Va. is reading As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner June 23, 2012 - 3:56am

Let's just face the facts. We're writers. We think everything is shit. 

Matt Attack's picture
Matt Attack from Richmond, Va. is reading As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner June 23, 2012 - 3:56am

Also. Foxy. That was awesome. 

avery of the dead's picture
avery of the dead from Kentucky is reading Cipher Sisters June 23, 2012 - 6:06am

"I slapped it out of his hand and gave a copy of Crime and Punishment.
This is exactly why I keep several copies of The Great Gatsby with me at all times.

Jessica Wright's picture
Jessica Wright from United Kingdom is reading Iron Council by China Mieville June 23, 2012 - 6:31am

Thanks to Foxy I now have the image of Iago reading this book.

underpurplemoon's picture
underpurplemoon from PDX June 23, 2012 - 8:21am

My writing laptop sucks. I can't play YouTube videos anymore. Sad panda. Fortunately, I have access to a computer for work ALL DAY. Happy lobster!

Fylh's picture
Fylh from from from is reading is from is reading is reading is reading reading is reading June 28, 2012 - 5:00pm

Nobody who has ever spent more than three minutes even thinking about 50 Shades of Grey ever wrote a good book. Prove me wrong.

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like June 28, 2012 - 6:04pm

^ unprovable

but if you like Ellis, there's one (unless that whole "Ellis wants to write the movie" thing was not only a joke, but a joke on Ellis rather than by Ellis.)

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig June 28, 2012 - 7:18pm

All Ellis tweets about is Fifty Shades, the rumor that Stanley Kubrick is gay, and the loft he is trying to rent.

I think just by following him on twitter, I've spent at least 10 minutes thinking about Fifty Shades of Grey. And now this thread.