Monday, November 5, 2012

50 Shades Darker recap Chapter Seventeen or "The one about the car"

In 50 Shades news:

A couple weeks ago, this bullshit happened.

And J.K. Rowling sounds like a total asshole these days.  Hey, Jo? No one thought you were writing erotica. We're not fucking stupid. I don't know what I find more offensive, the fact that she believes real, grown up literature can only include sex if the participants don't enjoy it, or that she goes on and on about how adults shouldn't censor children's access to literature, then tells an anecdote about trying to warn an audience about how very grown up and not for children her literature is. But since she takes some jabs at 50 Shades of Grey, I thought it was pertinent. Reader has since told me that they were an eyewitness at the event in question, and Jo was no where near as assholey as that story made her look.

Now, the recap.

I want to state for the record that these chapters are too goddamned long. Twenty-eight trade-sized pages with fairly small spacing and font is too, too much. Especially when each chapter could easily be broken into three separate chapters. I've yet to read a chapter in this book that couldn't be divided up somehow. For those of you studying up for NaNoWriMo, here's a tip: readers tend to like shorter chapters. They make the book seem like it's moving faster.*

*All my tips apply only to genre fiction. Because that's my area of expertise. I'm not going to write the great American novel.

Once again, we start a chapter with Ana waking up. Look, I understand the lure of the go to sleep chapter ending/wake up chapter beginning. I do it. A lot of writers do it. It's an easy trap to fall into. But why so damn many? Christian and Ana wake up together and start getting sexy:
My hips begin to sway to the rhythm of the dance his fingers have begun. He kisses me chastely on the lips and the moves down my neck, nipping slowly, kissing, and sucking as he goes.
Word usage ding! The "dance his fingers have begun" is below the waist, if you catch my drift. So... how is it possible to "chastely" kiss someone while you're manually pleasuring them? Since chaste implies a definite lack of sexual connotation? And your boyfriend's fingers on your hooey usually implies a definite sexual connotation?

Christian sticks a finger in her, and then woos her with the highest flattery ever paid a woman, fictional or otherwise:
"Oh, Ana," he murmurs reverentially against my throat. "You're always ready."
Leaving aside the cultural connotations this has, i.e. insinuation that she is a whore, because women are expected to never enjoy, only endure, sexuality, it's still a weird thing to say. "My, but your vagina is constantly moist," is an observation Chedward can't exactly make from a scientific standpoint, as his only interaction with the aforementioned vagina is during sexual contact, when of course it's going to be somewhat receptive.

Christian gets out a condom and mentions again how much hates using them, and in doing so informs us that Saturday is the last day he'll have to use them. You know a book is exciting when one of the major subplots is the method of birth control the protagonists prefer.

There is a section break, and Ana and Christian are having breakfast. Christian suggests that he take Ana shopping for more clothes:
I hate shopping. But with Christian, maybe it won't be so bad.
I love this line of reasoning, because it requires Ana to ignore literally every other experience she's had with Christian thus far in order to think what she's thinking. This man is like King Midas, but if instead of gold, everything he touches turns to crying. He tried to take her for a haircut and wound up introducing her to his molester. He tried to take her out for a fancy fundraiser, and when they got back her car had been vandalized. There is nothing you can do with Chedward that won't turn into tragedy. I bet they'll go shopping, and he'll somehow wind up in the fetal position on the dressing room floor.

Ana wonders aloud what will happen at work, what with Jack being unrealistically fired the night before:
"I hope they take a woman on as my new boss."
"Why?"
"Well, you're less likely to object to me going away with her," I tease him.
No, because all men are thrilled at the idea of their girlfriend cheating on them with another woman. I mean, after all, lesbian sex isn't real sex. How could it be, if it doesn't involve a penis? So it wouldn't be cheating, and most importantly, it would fulfill a male sexual fantasy (which is the only point of lesbian sex in the first place). I'm so glad we come from such an enlightened time, so that we recognize the absolute truth of this.

Okay, maybe I'm overreacting. Maybe Ana just meant that Christian wouldn't object to her going away with a woman because women are weak and one of them could never force Ana into sex. At least not physically. And since Ana is straight, she wouldn't be tempted the way she probably was a little bit with Jack, who she would have been helpless to fuck the moment the landing gear went up on that plane to New York.

Okay, maybe I'm still overreacting. Maybe it's just extremely clumsy foreshadowing of the tremendously unbelievable turn this chapter takes in a few pages.

Presumably because buying a car and not driving it is dumb and Chedward realizes that, he's generously allowing Ana to drive her new... what the fuck kind of car was it? A Saab? A Fiat? A Porsche? The fact that I can't remember the cars in this book is a cause for concern, because I love cars. And I swear to God, if these books ruin cars for me the way they've ruined sex for me, there will be vengeance. Or at least a lot of petty swearing and kicking things.
I clap my hands, start the car, and the engine purs to life. Putting the gearshift into drive, I ease my foot off the brake and the Saab moves smoothly forward. Taylor starts up the Audi behind us and once the garage barrier lifts, follows us out of Escala onto the street.
We've learned two things from this paragraph. 1) That it's a Saab, I was right the first time, and 2) how to drive a fucking car. Seriously, is that level of detail required? Why not just, "With Taylor following us, we pull out of the parking garage?" Is she being paid by the word, like Dickens? These are actions people perform all the time, they don't think about them step by step. Imagine your morning. If you drove a car, did you start the car, the engine purred to life, putting the gearshift into drive did you ease your foot off the brake and move smoothly forward? Or did you start the car and drive away? Did you brush your teeth, or, with sleep stiffened fingers did you roll the toothpaste tube, squeezing a last precious dollop of breath-saving gel onto the pre-wetted bristles of your tooth brush? Then with slow, aching caution, did you lift the brush to your mouth and painstakingly cleanse each tooth in turn? No. You fucking brushed your teeth, and you likely thought, "I'm brushing my teeth."

It's not that detail in prose is bad. Detail in prose is necessary. But somehow, E.L. James has gotten it all backward. She has no trouble describing the most mundane actions in detail, especially actions that come automatically to most people, and which most readers would rather gloss over in favor of moving the plot forward or getting to some dialogue or inner conflict. I would trade all those words about driving out of the parking lot for a single physical description of a character (who isn't Christian Grey) that isn't just, "She was [age] with [color] hair."

Meanwhile, back in the Saab:
"Can we have the radio on?" I ask as we wait at the first stop sign.
"I want you to concentrate," he says sharply.
Because he is my mother, riding in the car with me in the summer of 1996? Seriously, didn't Ana have a car that she drove all by herself before? The fact that Christian doesn't trust her as a driver really makes the whole "I want to buy you a car," thing a lot creepier, doesn't it? He sold the car she owned outright, and bought her this one. She already feels like she has to ask for permission to drive it, so in effect, Ana has no car. She's now hobbled, at the mercy of whether or not Christian wants her to drive anywhere or not.

Christian turns on the radio, and the song that's on is "King of Pain" by The Police, so Ana makes a joke about it being his theme song. Which would make total sense if Sting was singing about being the king of physical pain, but he was singing about emotional pain. And Christian can't be the king of emotional pain, because I am. Because I am reading this book, I am a butterfly in a spiderweb. I am the dead salmon frozen in a waterfall. And the little black spot on the sun is this book.

I didn't know how to wrap this up, so have a Feyd Rautha.

Ana thinks about how she should call Ethan today, because she won't have much to do at work. Ana, you didn't do much at work yesterday, either.
Anxiety blooms in my stomach. What will happen when I get to the office? Will everyone know about Jack? Will everyone know of Christian's involvement? Will I still have a job? Sheesh, if I have no job, what will I do?
You'll be just like every other recent college graduate with a BA in English?
Marry the gazillionaire, Ana! My subconscious has her snarky face on. I ignore her - rapacious bitch.
I like how her subconscious always says what we're all thinking. But in this case, it doesn't make sense. It's actually out of character for her subconscious to be "rapacious" (there's that word-a-day calendar rearing its ugly head again), because it's her subconscious who continually rejects the notion of Christian buying Ana anything. Wasn't it the subconscious who repeatedly called Ana a "ho" in the first book?

Christian scolds Ana for her distracted driving, and then Ana says all sorts of Freudian stuff I don't even want to touch:
Oh, for heaven's sake -  and suddenly I'm catapulted back in time to when Ray was teaching me to drive. I don't need another father. A husband maybe, a kinky husband. Hmm.

Christian assures Ana that everything is going to be fine at work, but stops just short of saying, "Because you're fucking the guy who owns the company," because he wants her to think she has some control over her own life still. Some fillies shy from the bridle, you dig? Still, Ana knows what's up:
"Please don't interfere - I want to do this on my own. Christian, please. It's important to me," I say as gently as I can.
Unfortunately, all Christian probably hears is, "Please... interfere... Christian, please. It's important to me."

They start to get into a little argument, which Ana heads off by telling him that last night was "Heaven." I'm assuming she means the impossible spreader bar tricks and not the violent confrontation with her boss.

They get to Ana's work, where Christian will leave the car with Ana and have Taylor drive him the rest of the way. For a guy who supposedly cares about the environment and sustainability and shit, he plays pretty fast and loose with the fossil fuel. Why didn't Ana just drop Christian off at work, then drive to her job? Or, if it's out of the way, why didn't Ana just drive to work by herself?

Oh, because if he'd done that, he wouldn't be able to add extra anxiety to her day. He mentions that they'll be going to see Dr. Flynn together that evening, and then decides that since Ana's focus has shifted somewhat from him to her job worries, he needs to make himself the center of her universe again, by having an insecure moment in the fucking parking lot:
"What are you worried about?" I ask, my voice soft and soothing.
"That you'll go."
"Christian, how many times do I have to tell you - I'm not going anywhere. You've already told me the worst. I'm not leaving you."
"Then why haven't you answered me?"
"Hey, girl. I know you have a lot on your mind with your boss attacking you and then getting fired, and today isn't really the time for this, but I just wanted to let you know that the fact you haven't agreed to marry me after we've been dating for a month is something I'm holding against you, bitterly. Have a great day, here's your lunch."

"Hey, girl. I would never do that to you. So I can never reasonably be cast in this movie."

I sigh. "I want to know that I'm enough for you, Christian. That's all."
"And you won't take my word for it?" he says, exasperated, releasing me.
Just like you won't take her word that she won't leave you. Instead, you follow her to and from work, restrict her access to transportation, insist on buying her clothes and keeping her on an electronic leash, balk if she interacts with other men even on a professional level, and emotionally manipulate her when there isn't fucking time, like when she's trying to get to work. So, her inability to accept your proposal seems kind of small in comparison.

Ana goes on about how he might some day want someone more like the other subs, and Christian tells her he knows plenty of women like that, but he wants her. Then Ana starts actively arguing for Christian to give those other women a chance. But they decide that it's better to wait and talk about this with Dr. Flynn.

Ana gets to her desk and finds a note, saying to go to Elizabeth's office. Now, for those who don't remember, Elizabeth was the woman who didn't want to hire Ana, due to lack of experience. This is about to be an important detail.
My heart leaps into my mouth. Oh, this is it. I'm going to get fired.
First of all, you're not going to get fired, because you're a Mary Sue, and nothing bad ever happens to a Mary Sue, unless it's romantically tragic. Being fired less than a month into a job isn't romantically tragic, so you've got a better chance of birthing a vampire baby via teeth caesarean than you do getting fired. That's something that would befall a non-special, non-Mary Sue character, like awful Kate.

Ana goes to Elizabeth's office, where Elizabeth tells her the "sad" news of Jack's departure. And then, like a Japanese commuter train, the plot implausibility shows up right on time:
"His rather hasty departure has left a vacancy, and we'd like you to fill it for now, until we find a replacement."
What? I feel the blood rush from my head. Me?
 "But I've only been here for a week or so."
"Yes, Anastasia, I understand, but Jack was always a champion of your abilities. He had high hopes for you."
But Elizabeth, Jack doesn't work there anymore. And you didn't want to hire Ana in the first place. So why the change of heart? Oh, right, so the reader will know how special and bright Ana is, that she can breeze into a publishing company as a secretary and be made an editor within a week.
"Please, I know this is sudden, but you've already made contact with Jack's key authors. Your chapter notes haven't gone unnoticed by the other editors. You have a shrewd mind, Anastasia. We all think you can do it."
So, the entire company thinks Ana is smart, and they're all rooting for her to be promoted?
"Okay." This is unreal.
No shit. In fact, "Okay, this is unreal," is exactly what I said when I was reading the chapter for the first time. Let's look at the rationale behind promoting Ana:

  1. She made good chapter notes. I'm sure she did, on those four manuscripts she read. But you know what? That's not basis enough to move her from secretary to editor after a fucking week on the job.
  2. She's made contact with Jack's authors. First, no she didn't, she mailed out a letter Jack wrote. Second, publishing houses don't care about whether or not an editor has spoke to an author before. When I was writing for Harlequin, my editor changed three times, and two of those were before my first book even came out. I was picked up by one editor, then she left and I went to a new editor, who I spoke to a grand total of twice before she left. I got another editor, and after she left, I went to the next one. When her assistant was made an editor (after more than a week on the job, I'll tell you that for nothing), she "gave" me to him, because he'd worked on my books as her assistant. But never once, in all of that, did anyone say to me, "You're getting this editor because you've already talked to them and your comfort is our number one concern." With the exception of the last switch, I had never met any of the new editors before they called and said, "Hey there, I'm your new editor."
What I find so infuriating about this is that it's totally unbelievable to the point of being comical, all because E.L. needed to find something to do with Ana. I'm not saying that assistants never get promoted to editor, because that does happen, all the time. And I'm not saying that assistants turned editor never end up working with authors previously edited by their former boss. I know that happens. It happened with the case of my last Harlequin editor. But it doesn't happen after just a week on the job.

Full disclosure time once again: I worked (briefly) as an editor for a small publishing house. When I left, even after giving notice, they didn't replace me with a new editor right off the bat. They just divided up my workload between all the remaining editors. This is what should be happening at SIP. Or, they could promote someone who hasn't been there for a fucking week. Either way, Ana should remain in her old job, albeit as an assistant to someone else or just a general office assistant. Or if they really wanted to promote her, maybe she could apply her brilliant insights to the slush pile. Just a thought.

Call me crazy, but doesn't it seem like the only way this would happen is if you were fucking the guy who owns the company?

Ana not only gets Jack's job, but she gets his office, too, and a hearty handshake from Elizabeth, who then has some kind of PTSD episode:
"I'm glad he's gone," she whispers, and a haunted look crosses her face. Holy shit. What did he do to her?
Wait, I thought Elizabeth was his boss, or at least someone with equal power to his in the company, if he had to fight with her to hire Ana. He sexually victimized Elizabeth, and nothing was done about it? Even if she didn't report it, there had to be other people he was treating like this. Did they never report it, either? I find that unlikely, especially since Christian knew that Jack was a predator from the very beginning. It seems like "Jack is pretty rapey" was an open secret in the company. People knew this guy was a sexual predator, and they continued to let him have power over young women? Run from this workplace, Ana. Run. It is a toxic environment.

Ana calls Christian to tell him that she got Jack's old job. He insists he had nothing to do with it, but Ana doesn't quite believe him, for some reason:
"Hmm. Are you sure you had nothing to do with this?"
He is silent for a minute, and then he says in a low menacing voice, "Do you doubt me? It angers me that you do."


Now, you and I both know that what Christian is doing is deflecting her from the actual question. He knows he had something to do with her promotion, you and I both know he did, but if he distracts Ana, he doesn't have to outright lie to her. Predictably, Ana falls for this:
I swallow. Boy, he gets mad so easily. "I'm sorry," I breathe, chastened.
She apologizes to him for asking if he was the reason she got a totally unbelievable promotion, after  he has openly, proudly admitted that he will never stop fucking with her career. Because that is what happens in these books.

Christian is still angry when he reminds her to use her BlackBerry, but he tells her she can call him if she needs anything.
Oh, he's so mercurial... his mood swings are like a metronome set at presto.
That's a weird mixed metaphor. Mercurial is, in itself, a metaphor, meaning caused by or containing the element Mercury, or having to do with the planet or mythological God. What that has to do with piano lessons, I will never know.

Ana goes to her new office and starts getting ahead of herself right off the bat:
I have the five manuscripts he was championing, plus two more, which should really be considered for publication.
You've been graduated from college a whole two weeks or something, and you know from publishable.

Ana is so busy thinking about how easy the job is, she forgets all about her lunch date with Mia. On top of that, Ethan shows up at her office again. Of course, he's there to check on Ana, to make sure Christian isn't mistreating her, because Ana emits a pheromone that makes all men want to help her. Ethan wants to take Ana to lunch (because if you are a man between the ages of 20 and 50 and you exist in this book, wanting to fuck Ana is mandatory), but she has other plans:
"I'm supposed to be having lunch with Christian and Elliot's sister - but I can't get ahold of her, and this meeting's just been sprung on me. Please will you take her for lunch? Please?"
"Aw, Ana! I don't want to babysit some brat."
"Please, Ethan." I give him the biggest-bluest-longest-eyelashed look that I can manage. He rolls his eyes and I know I've got him.
"You'll cook me something?" he mutters.
That's kind of a weird leap. Aren't you about to go have lunch?

So, Mia shows up looking super hot, and of course Ethan immediately falls for her:
"The brat?" he whispers, gaping at her.
"Yes, the brat the needs babysitting," I whisper back. "Hi, Mia." I give her a quick hug as she stares rather blatantly at Ethan.
Ethan can "gape" at Mia, but if Mia likes the looks of Ethan, it's "blatant" and carries a negative connotation. Because women who are not Ana are whores, is the theme of this book. If you hadn't already picked up on that.

So, Jasper and Alice head off to lunch and their happily ever after, which Ana will probably criticize, and Ana wonders about the consequences of pairing them up:
I wonder what Christian's attitude is about his sister dating. The thought makes me uneasy. She's my age, so he can't object, can he?
No, he can't object. His father is still living, so technically it's his father's place to object to Mia dating anyone, as he still owns Mia as a piece of property until he dies and passes her keeping along to his heir. Really, if Mia manages to land a suitable husband before then, someone with an income of a thousand or more pounds per year, then there's really nothing for Christian to complain about. Ethan is an attractive young man from a wealthy family, and although she would be "marrying down" from a societal standpoint, Mia's scandalous behavior is such that she couldn't really have hoped to snare a bachelor from her own circle.

I'm sorry, I slipped in the shower, hit my head, and woke up thinking we were in the 19th century. Where was I?

Christian has sent Ana some flowers, and they email back and forth about stupid bullshit no one cares about until it's time for Ana to go home. She stops to buy him a birthday present real quick at the tourist shop near her office, but we don't get to know what it is, yet. I guess this is another subplot: what did Ana get Christian for his birthday? The sub, subplot is, "How very little does Jen care?"

You will need this, dear reader.

Many times in this book, I have found occurrences in which the tension and drama is disproportionate to the action in the scene, to the point that one might select the word "over-wrought" to describe it. Just as a for example, when Ana and Christian leave to go to Dr. Flynn's office, this exchange happens:
"Here." I pull the small black gift box from my purse. "This is for you for your birthday. I wanted to give it to you now - but only if you promise not to open it until Saturday, okay?"
He blinks at me in surprise and swallows. "Okay," he murmurs cautiously.
Taking a deep breath, I hand it to him, ignoring his bemused expression.
What's in the box? A human head? The Ebola virus? Why are we being so damn dramatic about a gift you picked up last minute when you were leaving work? What's he going to do if he doesn't like it?

I have a feeling this guy knows what's going to happen.

They arrive at Dr. Flynn's office, which is apparently "palatial" by Ana's standards for psychiatric facilities, but her red flags go up when they meet the receptionist.
She greets Christian warmly, a little too warmly for my taste - she's old enough to be his mother - and he knows her name.
Look, it's not like Ana is a jealous person. She just doesn't want Chedward to speak in a familiar way with people he sees often, if the person in question is a female. That's not jealousy, not at all.

Have you been wondering what Dr. Flynn's office looks like? You're in luck, because Ana is going to give you the most confusing descriptions ever:
The room is understated: pale green with two dark green couches facing two leather winged chairs, and it has the atmosphere of a gentlemen's club.
This is after she mentions that the office is "palatial," so one must assume that it is palatial, yet understated, but with very expensive furniture and in front of the main stage there's an off duty cop shoving a twenty between a stripper's bare tits. Because that's what "gentlemen's club" means in America, E.L. James. It means exotic dancing. Sometimes bottomless.

Oh no, by all means, keep your port and fox hunting. We'll be over here with our way more awesome version of that.

So, politely ignoring all the lucite heels and the overwhelming scent of Candies perfume, Chedward makes the introductions:
"John." Christian shakes his hand. "You remember Anastasia?"
"How could I forget? Anastasia, welcome."
"Ana, please," I mumble as he shakes my hand firmly. I do love his English accent.
We do love those. She did her research there. Our accents are pretty stupid sounding. A British accent makes everyone sound hotter, no matter which British accent it is.

 Trust me, I would not find this guy nearly as attractive as I do if he had a So. Cal. accent.

I'm going to post a huge excerpt here now, just bear with me a moment. At the end, there will be a trivia question:
"Ana," he says kindly, ushering us toward the couches.
Christian gesture to one of them for me. I sit, trying to look relaxed, resting my hand on the armrest, and he sprawls on the other couch beside me so that we're at right angles to each other. A small table with a simple lamp is between us. I note with interest a box of tissues beside the lamp.
This isn't what I expected. I had in my mind's eye a stark white room with a black leather chaise longue.
Looking relaxed and in control, Dr. Flynn takes a seat in one of the winged chairs and picks up a leather notepad. Christian crosses his legs, his ankle resting on his knee, and stretches one arm along the back of the couch. Reaching across with his other hand, he finds my hand on the armrest and gives it a reassuring squeeze.
So, now we know exactly what Dr. Flynn's office looks like, exactly where everyone is sitting. You can vividly picture this, right? Now, keeping in mind that this is the last quarter of the second book, without using age or hair color, describe Anastasia Rose Steele.

No, no. I'll wait.

And that's the heart of one of the many problems with the writing. We get huge, blocky paragraphs of every last tiny detail about a room we'll probably never see again. We have to know exactly where everyone is, what all their physical gestures are. But when it comes to the main character, by nearly the end of the second book, the only description you can give me is probably, "Naive, skinny English major who loves Christian Grey." There is no depth to her character. Now, tell me what you know about Christian Grey. You know heaps more. That's because Ana is a self-insert. Much in the way Bella Swan was an avatar for any girl who read Twilight, Ana is a skin the reader can slip into so that they can experience the alleged romance between Ana and Christian. This isn't just bad writing, it's another way you can tell this book is plagiarized, if you still harbored any doubts.

Dr. Flynn tells Ana that the sessions are completely confidential, to which Ana replies that it's no big, she signed an NDA anyway:
"A nondisclosure agreement?" Dr. Flynn's brow furrows, and he glances quizzically at Christian.
Christian shrugs.
"You start all relationships with women with an NDA?" Dr. Flynn asks him.
"The contractual ones, I do."
 Dr. Flynn's lip twitches. "You've had other types of relationships with women?" he asks, and he looks amused.
"No," Christian answers after a beat, and he looks amused, too.
Doesn't this seem like something that the good doctor would have already known, since Christian has been seeing him for years? Let's take it on good faith that this isn't just a clumsy, poorly planned scene on the author's part, because it's more interesting if Christian really has been withholding from his therapist. What that says to me is that he either doesn't trust Dr. Flynn enough to share this information with him (and therapy is probably not going to do a whole lot of good, if that's the case, because what else is he withholding?), or he's trying to manipulate Dr. Flynn the way he manipulates everyone (and therapy will definitely not do a whole lot of good, if that's the case, because he's not being honest with himself, either).

Dr. Flynn suggests Ana and Christian talk about the NDA, since they're not entering into "'that kind of contractual relationship'," and Christian replies that he hopes they'll be entering into a different type of contract. As in, marriage. Which sounds so romantic when you talk about it the same way you talk about your sex contracts with the other women you were recently banging. Ana brings up Christian's "'recent revelations'" and Christian gets way pouty, because apparently he doesn't want any real therapy, he just wants to appear to sad and dysfunctional to some guy who has a lot of money. So... in this case, Dr. Flynn is to Christian as Christian is to Ana? This is getting heavy, yo. Ana is picking up on the tension in the room in a big way:
Holy shit. This is mortifying. I gaze down at my fingers.
You're going to therapy with your boyfriend that you've been dating a whole five or so weeks. How did you expect this to go down?

Dr. Flynn asks Ana if she'd be more comfortable talking to him with Christian out of the room, and she says yes, which makes Christian angry. He leaves in a huff, and Dr. Flynn proves himself to be... not the best therapist:
"Dr. Flynn, I've never been in a relationship before, and Christian is... well, he's Christian. And over the last week or so, a great deal has happened. I haven't had a chance to think things through."
"What do you need to think through?"
I glance up at him, and his head is cocked to one side as he gazes at me with compassion, I think.
"Well... Christian tells me that he's happy to give up... er - " I stumble and pause. This is so much more difficult to discuss than I'd imagined.
Dr. Flynn sighs. "Ana, in the very limited time that you've known him, you've made more progress with my patient than I have in the last two years. You have had a profound effect on him, you must see that."
Okay, but Dr. Flynn, that's not what Ana is asking about. She's never been in a relationship before, and she's overwhelmed. She's wanting to be Christian's girlfriend, not his therapist. Did you actually go to medical school? I mean, like, did you actually specialize in psychiatry?

Dr. Flynn goes on to explain what Solution-Focused Brief Therapy is. I'll just assume E.L. plagiarized his explanation from a text book or something, because that's how it reads. He tells Ana that Christian's goal is to have a loving relationship with her. Ana is looking for reassurance that he's not really a sadist, and Dr. Flynn explains that everything Christian wants to do, he wants to be consensual, so she doesn't need to worry that she's not enough for him. Or something. It's as boring as you might imagine listening to someone else getting therapy would be. Ana points out Christian's earlier comparison of BDSM to alcoholism, and this time the book manages to offend alcoholics as well as happy, well-adjusted perverts everywhere:
"But he thinks of himself as a recovering alcoholic."
"Christian will always think the worst of himself. As I said, it's part of his self-abhorrence. [...]"
I cut Dr. Flynn's dialogue short there, because he goes on to talk about Christian's emotional health, etc. What I really wanted to concentrate on is the fact that after Ana says Christian thinks of himself as a recovering alcoholic, Dr. Flynn says that he always thinks the worst of himself. As in, being an alcoholic is apparently the worst thing Christian could be, in the universe this book exists in. Which I personally find hilarious, as I struggle with alcoholism myself and yet I don't drink NEARLY AS MUCH AS THE CHARACTERS IN THIS BOOK. If the worst thing Christian can be is an alcoholic, that means being a lying, manipulative asshole who wails on women with a belt is better than being an alcoholic. So... fuck that.

Rather than providing Ana with answers or anything, Dr. Flynn keeps talking about the progress Christian has made, and how they all have to support them, because Dr. Flynn apparently thinks it's ethical to use another person to cure yourself of your mental illnesses and destroy their mental well-being in the process.

Christian comes back to collect Ana, and they head for the car, at which point Jose calls, and Ana drops the bombshell that she basically lives with Christian now. Hey, here's another warning sign that your friend might be in an abusive relationship:
"This thing with Grey, it's serious?"
I turn away from the car and pace to the other side of the sidewalk.
"Yes."
"How serious?"
I roll my eyes and pause. Why does Christian have to listening?
"Serious."
"Is he with you now? That why you're speaking in monosyllables?"
"Yes."
"Okay. So are you allowed out tomorrow?"
"Of course I am." I hope. I automatically cross my fingers.
If you're on the phone with your boyfriend and he's doing the monosyllabic thing, he's cheating on you. If you're on the phone with just a friend, and she's doing it because her boyfriend is near by, she's in a bad, bad relationship. And what the fuck is up with crossing her fingers, hoping she's allowed "out"? The further down this rabbit hole we go, the worse it gets.

Ana tells Christian that Jose will pick her up from work, and they'll go have a drink together, and Christian is totally on board, which, for some reason, makes Ana want him to not be on board? Or something?
I was expecting a fight, and his easy acquiescence throws me off balance.
"See, I can be reasonable," he smirks.
My mouth twists. We'll see about that.
What, are you going to try and out-reasonable him? Or make him be unreasonable so you can have the fight you were apparently looking forward to? Holy shit, these two should not be together.
"Can I drive?"
Christian blinks at me, surprised by my request.
"I'd rather you didn't."
"Why, exactly?"
"Because I don't like to be driven."
YOU HAVE A CHAUFFER, YOU GIANT COCK CHEESE!

Ana, of course, points this out a moment after I hurled the book across the goddamned room. Christian tells her that he trusts Taylor, so that's why Taylor can drive him... despite the fact that Christian has only ever ridden in the car with Ana one time. You know what this is? Macho bullshit about not wanting a woman to drive you somewhere. I hate Christian Grey, and I hope he gets ripped apart by bears.

He lets Ana drive, but he keeps up his bullshit paranoid mom teaching her kid to drive routine until Ana pulls over and they have a huge argument on the side of the road about who is going to drive and OMG WHY DO WE HAVE TO READ THIS?

I thought reading was about fantasy. I thought it was about escapism. Erotic romance, in particular, which this is supposed to be. At no point have I ever been reading a book and thought to myself, "Gosh, this would be so much better if there could be an argument like the ones my husband and I have, the kind where we pull the car over and scream at each other on the side of the road." No one wants to read that bullshit.

Christian takes over driving, and he sings along to Van Morrison:
Whoa. I've never heard him sing, not even in the shower, ever. I frown. He has a lovely voice - of course. Hmm... has he heard me sing?
He wouldn't be asking you to marry him if he had! My subconscious has her arms crossed and is wearing Burberry check.
Yeah, and I hate her about as much as I hate you, Ana. "Oh, look, I'm not a Mary Sue, tee hee, I have this one superficial flaw, which probably will turn out to be me just being too critical of myself and I'm really Charlotte flipping Church when I warble in the shower."

Christian talks about all the therapy he's done "'over the years'" and I find it suspect that he's only twenty-seven and believes he could have tried every single type of therapy long enough to reap any kind of benefit from any of them. They go over a two page recap of everything we just read in Dr. Flynn's office, and then Christian reveals that he's not driving them home, he's taking her somewhere that's a "surprise." That's the hook the chapter ends on, and I have never had such a bleak outlook on the progress made by the human race as I do right now.

5 comments:

  1. Why on earth do these characters use email rather than texting? WHY? All that bollocks over emails and wiping servers and they could just text each other. Like normal people. I hate that I hate these books so much. God help me but I do.

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  2. Why on earth do these characters use email rather than texting? WHY? All that bollocks over emails and wiping servers and they could just text each other. Like normal people. I hate that I hate these books so much. God help me but I do.

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  3. I'm pretty sure if I were Christian's therapist, I'd tell Ana to get the hell out of that relationship. Of course, I'd also have already diagnosed him as narcissistic with psychopathic traits. D:

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  4. "Mercurial is, in itself, a metaphor, meaning caused by or containing the element Mercury, or having to do with the planet or mythological God. What that has to do with piano lessons, I will never know."

    The worst part is that a metronome is anything *but* mercurial. Metronomes are all about steadiness and predictability because *that's what they're made to do*. If your metronome is mercurial, it is BROKEN.

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  5. 'She's my age, so he can't object, can he?'

    Of course not. If there's one thing that Chedward Grullen is known for, it's being reasonable.


    'Dr. Flynn explains that everything Christian wants to do, he wants to be consensual'

    EXCUSE ME? Show me one time that consent was something Chedward worried about, at all.

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