When we last visited our hero, she had bravely decided to accept the self-imposed mission of reading an extremely dreadful half-assed Twilight fan-fic erotic best-seller – using the obtained information to unleash a firestorm of snarky literary criticism on an unsuspecting world. Vowing to strengthen her intestinal fortitude with an array of spirits, she brandished her mighty Kindle once again, determined to face her old nemesis head on and emerge the victor. In today’s exciting episode, we join our mighty crusader in the wake of her first round of battle. Let’s watch, shall we …

For the love of Pete, where do I even begin? I suppose the first order of business should be a progress report. If my trusty e-reader is to be believed, I managed to get through four percent of the first installment of Fifty Shades of Grey when I first attempted to read it. Because I am a big believer in the small victories, I am happy to announce that my productivity was multiplied four times over in this since my latest venture. That’s right, folks – I have successfully made it through 16 percent thus far. And rest assured, that is only the beginning. I vow with every fiber of my being to see this thing through to the end this time. Stopping where I did seemed a prudent choice for two important reasons: 1. With all of the angry and belligerent thoughts that came to me in such a short amount of time, I knew that I would mistakenly gloss over a number of them if I pressed forward; 2. My battered brain just would not allow me to continue without a significant period of decompression, reflection and no-holds-barred ranting. But I digress.  Allow me to walk you through this particular reading session.

As promised, step one involved a jaunt to my local package store. Staying true to my word to give wine a second chance, I perused the wide selection in search of an ideal liquid accompaniment. “A nice red seems sexy,” I thought to myself. “Don’t people in the movies always drink red wine when they’re trying to be sexy?” Pleased that I had narrowed my search, I scanned the reds for a bottle that would best help me on my journey; a semi-sweet, husky blend that would warm me up to the idea of –

50 Shades of Wine

You have GOT to be fucking kidding me.

With my five-liter box of blush in hand, I headed home and got straight to work.

Contemplating clever ways to document my torture, I had come up with two choices that initially seemed promising. My first consideration was to narrate the process in the fashion of a shipwrecked survivor documenting her final grueling days on a desert island. Quickly deciding against such a cliché, I toyed with the idea of raw data—I would simply voice record each thought and criticism as they occurred to me and serve up the unedited, uncensored transcription as my article. Sadly, this concept was quickly scrapped as I began reading and realized such an angry, profanity-laced manifesto would do little more than land me on some secret watchdog list for potential violent criminals. I suppose not everything in this world can be packaged in a nice, attractive gimmick. Sometimes you just have to jump in with both feet and get dirty. I won’t bother to add the compassionate “SPOILER ALERT” warning. If you’re entertaining thoughts of heading down this road, you are quite frankly deserving of some sort of ruination.

The Broad Strokes of What I Know So Far
This lurid tale revolves around a female “protagonist,” one Anastasia Steele – an awkward, unworldly college senior tasked with interviewing beautiful and mysterious business tycoon, Christian Grey, as a favor to her beautiful and confident roommate. Sexy results ensue.

I’ll start by saying I was immediately pissed off by the author’s choice of fictional names. First off, we have Ms. Steele, who is irresistibly drawn to Mr. Grey – a cool and calculating businessman. A magnate, if you will. So here we have the STEELE attracted to the MAGNATE and already I’m praying for spontaneous combustion—of the characters or myself. I’m not picky. Supporting characters are blessed with monikers like Kate Kavanaugh (Anastasia’s beautiful roommate? Or lost ‘Dynatsty’ character?). Then we have Steele’s “I’m your buddy but want so much to be more” associate – a clear nod to Jacob Black, Twilight’s Native American corner of the central love triangle. While I suppose it’s not much of a stretch to put a Latin spin on the guy, I can’t help but think that James just got lazy when she named the kid JOSE RODRIGUEZ. Her staunch attempts to remove all character believability aside, I’ll just skip ahead to

The Initial Encounter
Though she has managed to traverse the world of academia to the point of graduation, it is immediately illustrated that Ms. Steele has zero ability to navigate what is collectively known as Life. She can’t manage her hair. She has no clue how to dress for a journalistic interview. She literally has an internal dialogue about each person she encounters at Christian Grey’s base of operations:

“She’s wearing the sharpest charcoal suit jacket and white shirt I have ever seen. She looks immaculate.”

“…another young blonde woman, this time dressed impeccably in black and white.”

“Another elegant, flawlessly dressed blonde comes out of a large door to the right.”

With such preoccupations hindering her motor skills, she falls on her face walking into Grey’s office. She is outwitted by a digital voice recorder, dropping it three times as she tries to set it up on the desk.

Yes, it is immediately clear why Christian is thusly vexed by such an intriguing heroine.

As I sit here typing this, I am dismayed to discover that nearly 1,000 words has barely allowed me to scratch the surface of my massive litany of grievances with this book – or should I say this 16% section of book. Oh man … and there are some good ones. It looks like part one is going to be one of those To Be Continued cliffhangers. I’ll say this before I go, though: wine is fired. When you realize you are yelling your critiques at innocent bystanders (sorry, Mom. Sorry, Nick.), it is safe to say that it’s time to tap in the heavyweight.

That’s all for now, kids. Tune in next time to find out why I am gravely concerned for the cardiovascular health of Ms. Steele, how this lobotomizing rage is threatening to ruin one of my favorite childhood board games and how I talked my liver out of taking out a restraining order on me until this experiment is at its completion.


Check out more of Heather’s musings on What Weekly here.