Please refrain from any negative comments regarding the book by EL James. That’s not what this post is about.
I sold antiques at a flea market this past Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Naturally, I set a few copies of my suspense/mystery novel Whistle Pass out for sale as well.
Once ladies learned I had written Whistle Pass, the conversation invariably turned to Fifty Shades of Grey, usually with this line as the icebreaker:
“I’m reading that book I shouldn’t be reading.”
A quirky smile then appeared.
It didn’t take too many of these conversations for me to realize that the majority of women I spoke with weren’t as interested in the book as they were the idea of doing something edgy, maybe even bordering on taboo, something risqué and a bit devilish, with nothing really at stake. It was the thrill of the bragging rights that they had obtained a copy and were reading a book that they wouldn’t even say the name of in public. Or at least said they were.
My point is that for a number of these ladies, claiming to be reading the book (not a one of them said they had finished it – they were always “reading” it) set them apart from what had been mediocrity and initiated them into a group of faceless literary daredevils walking the razorblade of the forbidden. It was the “act,” not the book, that sent shivers up their spines, reddened their ears, and provided the courage to share with a complete male stranger the provocative thing they were doing.
Interestingly, in all of the conversations I had with these ladies in this unique setting, not once did the reader talk about the book at all. Not once. Their focus remained on the act of possessing and reading the novel. After the first couple of ladies, I started asking if the person had plans to go see the movie when it came out. The answer was always “no.” Maybe they were being honest, maybe that was something they didn’t want to answer. I don’t know.
I do know what one lady gave as her reason for not planning on seeing the film version. She said in effect, ‘I wouldn’t want to watch the movie because it probably wouldn’t be like I’ve imagined.’ Her answer made me smile. What she described is the goal we as storytellers strive for. She said the story took shape in her mind, and she didn’t want to lose that imagery.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is the power and joy of books.