Part One: Fifty Shades
I enjoy reading. I enjoy books. Books relax me. Whenever I feel stressed out about something, I find haunting bookshops and libraries, whether I read the books or not, is a very effective way of calming down. Being surrounded by pages and words, there’s something very soothing about it.
What I look for in a book is good writing, a gripping story, and interesting characters.
The other thing I look for is a good title.
There’s something about books having good titles that is just like the cherry on the cake. Like the slippers at the end of a long day. Like Fresh bread for breakfast. It takes a good thing and makes it just a bit nicer.
So what really pisses me off about the Fifty Shades of Gray phenomenon is that it is a crap book with a really good title.
And it is a crap book. That’s not the debate here. The characters are shallow and boring, the writing is abysmal, and the story is pathetic. I don’t have an issue with the themes: on the contrary, I think sexual content is fine in literature. If there is a purpose to having it there, then sex, however graphic it may be, can be a very poignant and appropriate addition to a story. And I give brownie points to Fifty Shades for its making sexually explicit content more accessible to women. Pornography and erotic lit has always had a bit of a taboo attached to it when women are concerned. I can give Fifty Shades kudos for bringing it into the mainstream, but that’s where my respect ends.
Because it really is an appallingly written book and I’m annoyed because the title is really good.
A good title makes you wonder what this book could be about. It sets the tone for the whole novel, gives the hint at either intrigue or cliché. Before I knew what it was about, I was originally intrigued by Fifty Shades because the title sounds so mysterious, almost somber. It makes me think of lace and old fashioned things, like something from the Victorian times. That’s what drew me to the novel.
And as you can probably tell, the results were a bit disastrous.
I find it sad when I read books with good titles but crap content. It feels like such a waste, like here is a gem you’ve just thrown away on a piece of tin. Call it a pet peeve.
Part Two: Going green
Part two is entirely unrelated to part one. It has to do with feeling jealous.
So yesterday one of the girls I went to school with came home from university for the weekend, and we hung out for a few hours. It was really good fun. This girls parents are a bit over controlling, so moving out of home to go to university was like the first taste of freedom for her. Not just freedom to go out and do things and be independent, but freedom to just be a normal human being. Like, being able to be friends with boys, and go to McDonalds, and be able to have some actual real fun.
It was good to see her, because she seemed so happy, and that’s great.
So we were hanging out, and we got in touch with some of my other school friends and we ended up going out for dinner together.
I was talking in my last post about the politics of friendship, and I stand by that opinion, because while seeing these people again and catching up was great, it was also really strange. It kind of felt the same, but it was also so obviously really different.
Life is a funny old thing. Without a doubt the weirdest thing about seeing these girls again was that fact that one thing was pretty obvious. We were all a bit green for each other.
The weirdest thing about life is that even if you do all the things you want to do and map out this path for yourself and have all these plans to do amazing and cool stuff, there’s always going to be some patch of grass that looks a bit brighter then yours. Its like, if total satisfaction is what you’re looking for in life, you will be disappointed. There will always be someone smarter, richer, prettier, friendlier, nicer, and more loved then you. Someone who has travelled further, done more, seen more, experienced more.
There were four of us last night. Susan, who is the one who went to uni, Elise, who has been working all year and is going to uni next year, Me, who has been travelling for six months and is going to uni next year, and Lisa, who is not going to uni but is working and has formed very strong bonds with a new group of friends she met online.
All of us had something to be jealous of. I’ve spent six months travelling on my own in Europe and am moving to Melbourne in February. That’s my green inducement.
Susan has already started university and has moved out of her parent’s house, and pretty much has the independence and total freedom that the rest of us all crave. She’s ridiculously happy.
Elise has a steady job and regular income, she’s part of the local community without getting involved in the drama, and is going off to do a very cool university course next year.
Lisa has discovered a whole new level of confidence and happiness with her online friends and seems to have found her little niche in the world.
Even though we’re all leading the lives we want to lead, and doing the things we said we were going to do, it’s interesting that we are all still a bit jealous of each other. Its weird, because even though I don’t want what the others have in a literal sense, it’s kind of like being the kid who wants to play with the other kids toys, for no other reason then they’re somebody else’s.
One of the things that appeals to me so much about books and writing is that you can live as someone else for a little while, but then go back to normal in an instant. I don’t want to study archeology like Lisa, but I do want to in that detached sense that comes down to natural curiosity and intrigue.
And I think that a lot of what we perceive to be jealousy really could be just curiosity. You’re living a life that isn’t mine. It might be better then mine, it might not be, but I want to know about it, try it out, like a novelty or a new outfit, even if I don’t want it forever.
So what can we conclude? The best part about being a writer or an actor is that temporarily, you get to be the people that fascinate you.
Just make sure you have a good title.