Fifty Shades of Grey and the end of the chick lit cash cow

Friday, 9 March, 2012

Word on Grub Street last year was that chick lit is on the way out. Seems as if the world has had enough of pastel-coloured covers decorated with pretty typefaces, and plots centered on shoes ‘n shopping.

Fifty Shades of Grey So what’s next? “Mommy porn”, would you believe. “A new book about sex games and a bondage-loving billionaire has NYC moms reading like never before,” proclaimed the New York Post recently in a story titled Mamma Mia! The subject of the excitement is Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James. She’s a TV executive, wife, and mother of two, based in West London. In her book, 21-year-old Anastasia Steele goes to interview billionaire tycoon Christian Grey, who is incredibly handsome and a mere 27 years old. Christian falls madly in love with Anastasia, but he’s into the consensual use of restraint and intense sensory stimulation, as a BDSM expert might define his preferences. Anastasia (an innocent virgin) is unfamiliar with the acronym. Snippet:

“Firstly, I don’t make love. I fuck… hard. Secondly, there’s a lot more paperwork to do, and thirdly, you don’t yet know what you’re in for. You could still run for the hills. Come, I want to show you my playroom.
My mouth drops open. Fuck hard! Holy shit, that sounds so… hot. But why are we looking at a playroom? I am mystified.
“You want to play on your Xbox”, I ask? He laughs loudly.
“No, Anastasia, no Xbox, no Playstation. Come.”

Will Anastasia enter the playroom? Will she recoil when she sees the whips? Read on!

Why is Fifty Shades of Grey, like, so… hot, as Anastasia might say? Because, unlike chick lit, it offers graphic sex scenes, and that’s what a lot of readers want, apparently.

Backgrounder: Chick lit is a label for books, traditionally read by women, where the heroine’s relationship with her family or friends is often as important as her romantic relationships. The term first appeared in print in 1988 as slang for a university course titled ‘female literary tradition’. Bridget Jones’s Diary and Sex and the City are two of the most famous examples of the genre.

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