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Sunday, 16 August 2015

50 shades of rip offs



Unless you are the sort of person who reflexively burns every book that comes near you, you'll probably have heard of whips'n'chains franchise Fifty Shades of Grey. You may have read the book. You may have seen the film. You may have washed your clothes with the completely inexplicable themed laundry powder.

It has undoubtedly tickled a lot of pickles, and you have to give the author credit for that. I am slightly bemused by the fact that so many women secretly desire a stalker with mummy issues and a way with cable ties but, hey, the heart wants what the heart wants. And if I have minor issues with the casual butchering of a fictional character's soul and self respect / the English language, I doubt the author minds. She is probably chuckling to herself, starting the day by chowing down on a pair of platinum love eggs before jumping in her helicopter and blowing up a library.

There will be stories in the tabloid press of the 50-shades baby boom and a whole generation of kids named Anastasia / Flogger but no-one talks about the other population explosion that this mania has engendered. That of books with black covers and alphanumeric titles. The 50 shades book babies.

There are only so many times that you can walk past '50 shades of Dorian Gray' without getting a *little* curious so here you are. I read them so you don't have to. Except just the direct rip-offs. There are many, many books which take their bondage inspiration with a twist of lemon but I do not have time for them. It's not like you can read them on the bus.

1. Fifty Shades of Mr Darcy
Because what's better than one brooding, rich literary hero? Two brooding, rich literary heroes squished into some kind of horrific brooding, rich literary hero-chimaera! Any parody which starts with Elizabeth Bennet's bloomers has got to have something going for it. This one gets full marks for a) committing whole-heartedly to mashing together two very different books and b) taking full advantage of the opportunities for ridiculousness that said mash-up provides. It loses marks for inserting Phil Collins. Perhaps I'm expecting too much from my erotic-parody-mash-up reading but he annoyed me in his anachronism.
First fumble: Page 104, but if you're after steamy scenes, this isn't the book for you. There is quite an amusing bit with a cabbage and some jam sponge though.
Good point: "50 shades? More like two: "gagging for sex", that's one and "in a bad mood"."
My inner goddess is: alarmed by the prospect of a BBC adaptation.


2. Fifty Shames of Earl Grey
Call me a cock-eyed optimist, but I really hoped that this one would be a tea-themed 50 shades parody. I can't tell you how upset I was about the lack of hot beverages here. On the plus side, it was quite genuinely funny. It draws quite a lot on 'The Twilight issue'. The main character gets pregnant and her baby starts destroying her from the inside. Oh, and her friend falls in love with her unborn baby, which I think happens in Twilight too? This is all a lot funnier than it sounds, anyway.
First Fumble: Well, she kind of fellates a toothbrush on page 60.
My inner goddess is: gasping on a cup of tea, tbh.


3. Fifty Sheds of Grey
When I grow up, I want a shed like the one Roald Dahl had. With a ball made of sweetie wrappers and a comfy chair. A good shed is a very pleasing thing. And it's lucky I feel like that, because this   is just a book of shed-pictures. With some pithy garden related innuendo on the side. There is a very funny one involving slugs and some Viagra, but plot is thin on the ground. I feel like this would make an excellent Father's day present. Which is definitely not the worst thing I  could say about a book.
First Fumble: It's not really that sort of book. Your libido is very much left to do its own legwork.
My inner goddess is: browsing the garden shed section of the Homebase website.



4. Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray
Alarm bells started ringing when I saw the 'Romance' sticker on the spine of this one. And the fact that Oscar Wilde was listed as a co-author. Suspicions were confirmed when I cracked this bad-boy   open. This is not a parody. I repeat, this is not a parody. This is a deadly serious mash up of 50 shades and The Picture of Dorian Gray. It probably sticks closer to the latter in terms of plot than the former. But boy, does it run with it. Even dormant fireplaces are imbued with erotic imagery. There's a cheeky bit of incest because Dorian Gray really wasn't debauched enough in the original. This wasn't really my bag: I found the smutty bits kind of hilarious rather than titillating. But if it sounds like your kind of thing, there's *also* a book by the same publishers called 'Jane Eyrotica'. which is good to know right?
First Fumble: Page 48.
Genuine quote: "My sweet girl, let us go back into the bedroom. We will make love like angels. I will coddle you and kiss your sacred hairy parts."
My inner goddess is: demanding a blood sacrifice to the Gods of English literature.



So what have I learned? Well, I don't think I'll pick up an erotic mas-up of a literary classic again in a hurry. And several of the authors seemed to think Christian Grey is gay. Was there some sort of secret handkerchief code I missed? But mostly, I think I have now had enough Grey information to last a lifetime. Which means I don't have to read that new book written from his perspective. So ultimately, I'm the winner here. Yeah.