A collection of essays from a variety of perspectives on the best-selling erotic romance series.
The Fifty Shades trilogy, just like the Twilight series that inspired it, has created demand for books with similar themes. This book, edited by veteran erotica editor Perkins, is clearly an attempt to capitalize on this new, robust market. Several of the contributors make this shift in the publishing industry a theme of their essays: Louise Fury writes that E.L. James has “helped pave the way” for existing writers of erotica and erotic romance and that “new voices [will] emerge and follow in her formidable, trailblazing footsteps.” Though there is general agreement that these books have created a space for new audiences and authors, there is disagreement on the representation of BDSM in the books. Jennifer Armintrout persuasively argues that the violent sex, though problematic, is less disturbing than Christian Grey’s controlling and stalking behavior. Yet Susan Wright points out that critics of BDSM forget that “everyone in America is free to sky dive, rock climb and play football, which cause far more harm than BDSM.” Perhaps the most novel perspectives come from Cecilia Tan's, Mala Bhattacharjee's and Anne Jamison’s essays on the Twilight fan-fiction origins of Fifty Shades and Tish Beaty’s account of discovering and editing the manuscript. Some of the essays appear to be hastily written personal reflections with a sentence or two about Fifty Shades thrown in; the “Fifty Writers” gimmick may have prompted the inclusion of some filler. However, the more thoughtful essays will provide food for thought for readers eager to learn more about the series and the lifestyle it depicts. Other contributors include M.J. Rose, Judith Regan and Rakesh Satyal.
Gimmicks aside, the essays are mostly informative and intelligent.