- 50 Shades of Bonus Bullshit - Bonus Stalker Boyfriend Meme Contest
- Essay on misogyny in fandom Which I will post with absolutely no hint of hubris, even though I spend most of my blog time hating on one particular female character. I have like seven chapters to go, guys.
- Another breakdown of 50 Shades of Grey that goes into some different stuff! This one, I actually remember who sent it to me. It was Thea Karan, and I remembered because I still had the email. So ha, I can do something right! Also, that link takes you to chapter eight, but I suspect you'll want to read all the chapters.
- An article on romanticizing psychos in fiction, also from Thea Karan. The Fannibal in me whistles and wanders away, looking nonchalant with my arm around a feathered stag.
So, a few weeks ago, some of you began expressing, either in comments or tweets or emails, however you guys get ahold of me, that you were afraid I wasn't enjoying doing these recaps anymore. And to be frank, I'm really not. That is, I'm not enjoying writing them, but I do enjoy that you enjoy them, and it gives me joy to see you enjoying them.
The words "joy" and "enjoy" no longer mean anything to you, now that you've read that sentence.
But I thought, "People aren't going to enjoy them anymore, if it's obvious that I'm not enjoying them," (oh god, it's just going on and on, isn't it?). I needed to find a way to write this recap and enjoy doing it.
I think this book is getting to me, guys.
Anyway, I decided one way I could jazz things up and make it fun for myself would be to imagine Jack and Karen from Will & Grace recapping this chapter with me. I thought good and hard about whether or not Jack and Karen would like 50 Shades of Grey or not. I decided that Jack was more likely to make some kind of 50 Shades of Gay joke, but revile the actual book because of his anti-straight marriage stance. And Karen doesn't need to fantasize about banging rich men. If she wanted to, she'd just go out and do it. I felt a sudden kinship with the universe realizing that the only character on the show who would actually like the book would probably be Will, and I hated him.
I guess what I'm trying to say is, welcome to my mental breakdown in which I pretend to talk to characters from a television show that has been off the air for just a tick under a decade now in order to cope with the horror of this book.
Once again, Ana is waking up. And let me tell you, I want to thank E.L. James for starting and finishing so many chapters with characters waking up and falling asleep. Because I hit a major snag in something I was working on this week, and I realized I had several chapters/scenes in a row ending and beginning that way. And I was like, "Jesus, I don't want to do that. That sucks to read." If you take no practical writing knowledge away from these recaps, at least take away that one small wisdom. If your characters are waking up and going to sleep to make new scenes happen, over and over and over, something is wrong.
Unless your book is about a sleepwalker or something.
Ana wakes up warm and comfortable and yadda yadda, how she always wakes up, then she remembers she's at the Heathman and:
"Shit! Daddy!" I gasp out loud, recalling with a gut-wrenching surge of apprehension that twists my heart and starts it pounding why I'm in Portland.Man. I write some unwieldy sentences, but daaaaamn.
Christian wasn't wrapped around Ana like vines or ivy or a steel wool hair shirt, so where could he possibly be? If you guessed "creepily watching her sleep," you'd be tragically right:
"Hey." Christian is sitting on the edge of the bed. He strokes my cheek with his knuckles, instantly calming me. "I called the ICU this morning. Ray had a good night. It's all good," he says reassuringly.Hey, you know what I just had the weirdest thought about? HIPAA and patient confidentiality. While I understand that Ana is Ray's next of kin, and Ana would be totally okay with Christian having access to his medical information, and Christian's mom is apparently Ray's doctor now or something, you know who hasn't had a say in this? RAY. And it's up to him who has access.
Then something happens that we haven't seen for a few chapters, but we really weren't missing. That's right, the "we have to say hi to each other shyly in the morning" scene:
"Hi," I mutter. He's up and dressed in a black T-shirt and blue jeans.
"Hi," he replies, his eyes soft and warm. "I want to wish you happy birthday. Is that okay?"Oh, this he asks. "Can I have access to your bank account and college transcripts?" Not on the table. "May I make a secret list of people you aren't allowed to speak to?" Apparently, that's just a given. But he asks if he can wish her a happy birthday. Because manners.
You think it's bad now, Karen? You just wait.
Christian gives Ana her birthday present, which comes with a card. It reads:
For all our firsts on your first birthday as my beloved wife.
From any other husband, I probably wouldn't bat an eye, but from Christian Grey, I think, "Jesus Christ, it's not all about you."
See, Karen knows what's up with Ana's birthday.
Christian is celebrating Ana's birthday as a kind of rebirth. She's transitioning from Ana Steele to Christian Grey's wife, and the gift reflects this:
Unwrapping the paper carefully so it doesn't tear, I find a beautiful red leather box. Cartier. It's familiar, thanks to my second-chance earrings and my watch. Cautiously, I open the box to discover a delicate charm bracelet of silver or platinum or white gold- I don't know, but it's absolutely enchanting. Attached to it are several charms: the Eiffel Tower; a London black cab; a helicopter- Charlie Tango; a glider- the soaring, a catamaran- The Grace; a bed; an ice cream cone? I look up at him, bemused.
I just want to point out that she got "second chance earrings" before she got a birthday present.
Every charm on the bracelet is something that ties her to him. There isn't a single charm that's just like, "Hey, I remembered you like cats, so that's what the kitty is for," or some shit. This isn't just Christian trying to mind-wipe Ana's past and make her life all about him; it's a really shocking reminder that without Christian Grey, Ana Steele is a character who has no discernable personality.
I'm sorry, Jack, I just don't believe in love anymore. Not after these books.
The ice cream, by the way, is a reference to "vanilla."
"Christian this is beautiful. Thank you. It's yar."
Your guess is as good as mine.
One of the charms is a locket so she can put Christian's picture in it, a C (for Christian, obviously) and another is a key to Christian's heart and soul, so that explains the key necklaces I've been seeing everywhere, I guess.
Oh, he smells so good- clean, of fresh linen, body wash, and Christian.
Jesus Christ, E.L., WE KNOW WHAT HE SMELLS LIKE. BY THIS POINT AND THE NUMBER OF TIMES YOU HAVE USED THAT EXACT DESCRIPTION, WE FUCKING KNOW THAT THIS BASTARD SMELLS LIKE BODY WASH.
Oh, by the way, Ana cries in this chapter more than the vampires cried in my entire first series. And that was a lot, because I was apparently going through some things. Ana starts crying on page 374, then there's a section break and they have breakfast:
"Thank you for ordering my favorite breakfast."
"It's your birthday," Christian says softly. "And you have to stop thanking me." He rolls his eyes in exasperation, but fondly, I think.
"I just want you to know that I appreciate it."
"Anastasia, it's what I do." His expression is serious- of course, Christian in command and in control. How could I forget... Would I want him any other way?
Probably not, but you wouldn't have Stockholm Syndrome, either.
Ana says she's going to go brush her teeth, and Christian smirks, and Ana can't figure out why, until:
A memory springs unbidden to my mind. I used his toothbrush after I first spent the night with him. I smirk and grab his toothbrush in homage to that first time.
I KNOW, SO GROSS, RIGHT?!
The last time I was here I was single, and now I'm married at twenty-two! I'm getting old.
They leave for the hospital, but first, they have to take the "fuck the paperwork" elevator. You know, where he kissed her or whatever back in the first book that I don't care about:
"Someday, I'll rent this elevator for a whole afternoon."
And then they'll sanitize it for the entire evening, night, and morning.
Then they start making out in the elevator, blah blah. They go outside to where Taylor pulls up in a new car:
He's bought me a fucking Audi R8! Holy shit! Just like I asked!
Just like she asked! In the last book! When he didn't buy it for her because reasons! Reasons that had nothing to do with being a control freak!
Ana interprets the gift of the car as this tender, caring thing, but it's really just a reward for being docile and doing what he wanted her to do. Let's be real here. She's submitted in enough other ways that he decided he would give her a treat.
"Anything for you, Mrs. Grey." He grins down at me. Oh my. What a very public display of affection. He bends and kisses me. "Come. Let's go see your dad."
"Yes. And I get to drive?"
He grins down at me. "Of course. It's yours."
Um, so was the other car you bought her, and then refused to let her drive, because you're a freak.
But of course, when Ana does drive, it's way too fast for Christian, and he repeatedly warns her to slow down:
"I don't want you in the ICU beside your father. Slow down," he growls, not to be argued with. I ease off the accelerator and grin at him.
I can understand someone saying, "Hey, don't drive like a jackass when I'm in the car with you, because I don't want to die," but let's remember, Christian is okay with taking some pretty big risks when Ana is along for the ride. Gliders aren't exactly the safest pastime. He zipped her around on a jet ski and dumped her off into the Mediterranean. He's okay with being the guy in the driver's seat doing something dangerous, but Ana can't drive slightly over the speed limit for her own good.
At the hospital, we check in with Ray, who is more interesting than his daughter even when he's in a coma:
Ray's condition is the same. Seeing him grounds me after the heady road trip here. I really should drive more carefully. You can't legislate for every drunk driver in this world.
But notice how Christian tells her she should drive more carefully, and suddenly she thinks it's all her idea? She already knew her dad was in the hospital from a car accident, but it didn't occur to her when she was driving before. Once Christian plants the seed in her head, though, it's suddenly there and her own idea.
So, achievement unlocked, Grey. You've got your wife completely brainwashed.
I wander into the thankfully empty waiting room where Christian is talking on the phone, pacing. As he speaks, he gazes out the window at the panoramic view of Portland. He turns to me when I shut the door, and he looks angry.
"How far above the limit?... I see... All charges, everything. Ana's father is in the ICU- I want you to throw the fucking book at him, Dad... Good. Keep me informed." He hangs up.
Okay. Uh... Christian? You don't decide how drunk drivers are charged. If you're in a state that uses a grand jury in DUI cases, they'll throw the book at the drunk driver, or if you're in a state that doesn't use the grand jury, the judge will throw the book at them. While I'm sure Christian has power and influence due to his wealth, let's not pretend he runs the court system or can somehow order this guy to get a harsher punishment because he just wants it to be so. This dude can only be charged within the laws that already exist to handle DUI.
Ana updates him on Charlie (Ray, actually, but I'm leaving Charlie because I legit typed that name first because in my head, this book is Twilight), and Christian says:
"This is not how I envisaged spending today," Christian murmurs into my hair.
Who says that? "Envisaged?" Really? Not, "This isn't how I envisioned?" Because that's how most Americans would say it. I'm sure the phrase started out "envisaged" because that's correct, but Americans, even self-made billionaire Americans, don't usually speak correctly.
"I should call my mom. Tell her about Ray," I murmur and Christian stiffens. "I'm surprised she hasn't called me." I frown in a moment of realization. In fact, I feel hurt. It's my birthday after all, and she was there when I was born. Why hasn't she called?
Maybe she's been kidnapped by Jack!
No, no! Different Jack. Settle down.
Ana checks her phone and finds texts from all these other people, but nothing from her mom, and when she tries to call her, she's not home. Ana figures her mother forgot her birthday. Then Christian gets a call from Andrea:
"Good... ETA is what time?... And the other, um... packages?" Christian glances at his watch. "Does the Heathman have all the details?... Good... Yes. It can hold until Monday morning, but e-mail it just in case- I'll print, sign, and scan it back to you... They can wait. Go home, Andrea... No, we're good, thank you."
I'm torn about this next section, guys. Let me tell you why. Ana asks Christian if his call was about the "Taiwan thing," and he says yes, but it's a cover for the fact that he's throwing Ana this big surprise birthday party later that night. So, when this conversation happens:
"It is. The shipyard here depends on it. There are lots of jobs at stake."
"We just have to sell it to the unions. That's Sam and Ros's job. But the way the economy's heading, none of us have a lot of choice."
it makes me wonder if he's just throwing out jargon to try and confuse her, so she doesn't suspect about the party, or if E.L. James just doesn't understand on an authorial level what Christian Grey does. Because none of that stuff seems to follow with getting packages at the Heathman. And if there are lots of jobs at stake and this is a huge, tense time... why can his assistant go home? Why can he take time off right now?
I'm going to be generous and say he was just snowballing so she wouldn't suspect that he's throwing her a party, but it's not entirely necessary, is it? Ana just stumbles around in this constant state of awestruck stupidity when it comes to Christian. He could be planning a second wedding to Mrs. Robinson and she wouldn't notice, so long as he held Ana in his lap and snuggled her and told her she was amazing while he did it.
Speaking of which, how does Ana spend her birthday in the hospital with her comatose father? BY MAKING IT ALL ABOUT CHRISTIAN, OF COURSE!
"I love philanthropic Christian," I murmur.
"Oh, I love megalomaniac Christian, too, and control freak Christian, sexpertise Christian, kinky Christian, romantic Christian, shy Christian... the list is endless."
"That's a whole lot of Christians."
"I'd say at least fifty."
He laughs. "Fifty shades," he murmurs into my hair.
"My fifty shades."
He shifts, tipping my head back, and kisses me. "Well, Mrs. Shades, let's see how your dad is doing."
If they start calling each other Mr. and Mrs. Shades, I don't care that I've got two-hundred pages left, I will jam this fucking book in a paper shredder.
There's a totally unnecessary section where they go for a drive in Ana's new car, and then later they go to lunch. Which is also an entirely unnecessary scene; they only go so that Christian can mention the fact he took her home from a Portland bar drunk, and he can get jealous about the waiter who served them at Le Picotin in the last book. The plot doesn't further in any way. Just, "Hey! Remember when all this stuff happened before? And I'm like, "No. Because I was way too drunk to remember any of this shit, thankfully."
Then there's a scene where Ana goes to her father's hospital room to sit with him. We learn that Ray still wears his wedding ring, even though he and Ana's mother have been divorced for a long time, and then Christian is all, "'I want to feed you,'" and takes Ana back to the Heathman, where he's bought her a dress and shoes and sexy underthings:
Unzipping the bag, I find a navy satin dress and ease it out. It's gorgeous- fitted, with thin straps. It looks small.
"It's lovely. Thank you. I hope it fits."
That's a good question. I mean, we haven't heard over and over in this book, at least, not as much as we heard about it in the last two books, that Ana is practically blowing away in a faint breeze due to her extremely frail and waifish physique. Oh my god, maybe the dress won't fit!
Ana takes a bath, and then this happens:
"Come," he says, regarding me intently. I know that expression, and I know better than to disobey.
He just wanted to dry her hair. But how fucking ominous is that? "I know better than to disobey?" Why am I still surprised when this creepy shit pops up in these books?
There's a section break, and:
When we step into the elevator on our way to dinner, we are not alone. Christian looks delicious in his signature white linen shirt, black jeans and jacket. No tie. The two women inside shoot admiring glances at him and less generous ones at me. I hide my smile. Yes, ladies, he's mine.
Good. Keep him.
How many more times are we going to have to read about random bitches and skanks trying to steal Ana's man? They're only getting more and more boring. These particular bitches and skanks weren't even described. How do we know if they were blonde or not? Or is that just a given?
The dress hugs me, skimming over my curves and holding everything in place.
How does that work? It's either tight or not, and skimming sounds like it's not. How is it holding everything in place if it's skimming? NONE OF THESE WORDS WORK TOGETHER.
I have to say, I feel... attractive wearing it. I know Christian approves.
That statement would be a lot less sad if we knew those were two independent ideas, not that Ana feels attractive because Christian approves. But here we are.
At first, I think we're heading for the private dining room where we first discussed the contract, but he leads me past that doorway and on to the far end, where he opens the door to another wood-panelled room.
Oh my. Kate and Elliot, Mia and Ethan, Carrick and Grace, Mr. Rodriguez and José, and my mother and Bob are all there raising their glasses.
Is this an intervention to save Ana from her abusive relationship?!
Damnit, no. It's just a surprise party. The reason her mom didn't answer the phone or call her was because she was on the way to Portland in Christian's plane. So, happy birthday, honey, I made you momentarily think your mother doesn't love you while your other parent is on life support in the ICU! My timing is amazing! (Also, dear readers, remember that this shit is going down when Ana's biological father DIED THE DAY AFTER HER BIRTHDAY... I know it's easy to forget; the author obviously did.)
Christian's brother has exactly the same kind of sensitivity to Ana's situation:
"S'up babe? Your old man will be fine." Elliot enfolds me in his arms. "Happy birthday."
Seriously? HER FATHER IS IN THE ICU.
I gaze at Mom. She's in her element, charming, witty, and warm. I love her so much. I must remember to tell her. Life is so precious, I realize that now.
But not when you were attacked by your boss, held at gunpoint by your husband's ex, chased down a busy freeway by an unidentified assailant, stumbled upon a violent home invasion/foiled kidnapping attempt, and your husband was in a helicopter crash? It takes a lot for Ana to get the fucking point, doesn't it?
Ana and Kate discuss how sexy it is that Christian can fly a helicopter, and then:
Kate spits her wine rather unattractively down her chin, making us both laugh some more.
That's the best present Ana could have gotten. Happy birthday, your friend did something that made her look unattractive.
They bring out Ana's cake:
"Make a wish," Christian whispers to me. In one breath I blow out all the candles, fervently willing my father better. Daddy, get well. Please get well. I love you so.
And it works! Because Ana is magic!
Okay, there are some scenes between the birthday wish the actual recovery, including one with Mr. Rodriguez where, apropos of nothing, he tells Ana that he thought José would have married her. Because there isn't a single man in this series who doesn't want to climb all over Ana. But I'm making it a point to skip scenes that are meaningless in the context of the narrative, so I'm skipping that one for sure.
After a section break, we're back at the Heathman:
Christian closes the door to our suite.
"Alone at last," he murmurs, leaning back against the door, watching me.
I step toward him and run my fingers over the lapels of his jacket. "Thank you for a wonderful birthday. You really are the most thoughtful, considerate, generous husband."
In the morning, they all have breakfast together, give Ana presents- because this is apparently a fucking wedding or something- and then Ana goes to the hospital with her mother to visit Ray. It's actually a pretty good scene, or would be, if it went anywhere important to the story or character development. Ana's mom talks about how she still loves Ray, but they just changed as people, and it's all very good, until we realize that the entire reason we're reading this scene is for the conversation to turn back to Christian and how much he and Ana are in love:
"We are, I think. Getting there, anyway. I love him. He's the center of my world. The sun rises and sets with him for me, too."
"He obviously adores you, darling."
"And I adore him."
"Make sure you tell him. Men need to hear that stuff just like we do."
Here's why this doesn't sit right with me. Ana is constantly telling Christian how much she loves him, how she cherishes him and he's amazing. It's not like this is something Christian is lacking in his life. And the scene is delivered as though there is some underlying trouble with Christian and Ana's relationship. There is, don't get me wrong, but it hasn't been a major source of conflict in this book. Honestly, I would have preferred it if there had been some conflict, any conflict (that didn't have to do with incredibly outlandish, mustache-twirling villains who drive cars that don't even exist). So, putting this scene here is just a big, red flag that something is going to go wrong within the next two chapters, and obviously it's going to be all Ana's fault because she's not loving enough or something.
Christian and Ana drive Bob and Renee (it's Renee, right? In this book?) to the airport, and then they go back to the hospital, where Ray is off the ventilator in preparation for eventually waking up from his medicated coma. Ana reads Ray the sports page. I know I've complained before about the improbability of a hunting, fishing, good-ole boy Amurican like Ray loving soccer, but I'm sorry, I have to do it again. Especially considering it is now September 11, so the Mariners would still be playing. And in the previous scene, Renee or whoever the fuck Ana's mom is specifically referenced the Mariners.
"And the final score, Sounders one, Real Salt Lake two."
"Hey, Annie, we lost? No!" Ray rasps, and he squeezes my hand.
So, that happened.
I'll be on vacation next week, so recaps will resume in July!