A recent anecdote for you

Recently, the wife of a friend of mine innocently asked on Facebook for some reading material. She wanted something light, but interesting. Naïvely, I suggested the book that I am currently reading which I find hilarious (The Pale King by the late David Foster Wallace – and, yes, I will dedicate a few posts just to this book for my readers that must be crestfallen by the drop in post frequency on this blog. Life gets busy sometimes – travel, holidays – and for the last two months has taken precedence over daily blogging. My sincere apologies!). This suggestion elicited no reaction from either my friend’s wife or any of her friends. However, perhaps minutes after my comment, some other friend suggested 50 Shades of Grey and the comments (all enthusiastic and positive) started raining in. I had heard of this book recently and read an article (I think it was in The Times) about this being the latest in housewife porn. Now, I may be intellectually dishonest by slamming a book I haven’t read (although my own experience has shown that pulp fiction of this sort [such as Memories of a Geisha which was as bad or worse that I expected] has little or no literary merit), but it did get me thinking. First off, there are a lost of desperate housewives out there and this kind of soft S&M story was perfectly marketed to that segment of the population. Second, it is unfortunate beyond words that good writing – such as The Pale King – does not seem to resonate with anyone but writers and intellectuals. Perhaps folks were forced to read The Red Badge of Courage or Madame Bovary one too many times in high school and have been turned off literature for life. Instead, the average male settles for Clancy and the like, and the average female for The Devil Wears Prada (and its 3 sequels) or 50 Shades. Now, I don’t want to make enemies with the millions of housewives that read and loved this trilogy. Really, I don’t. All I am saying is that there are better written books – even classics – that are similarly fulfilling on a sensual level but credible on a literary one as well. Perhaps, the best example of this is Dangerous Liaisons by Laclos. Not the movie with (yummy) Uma and Dafoe, but the original book. Written by a solider of aristocratic birth – but hardly an intellectual by any means – this is the most erotic book of the 18th century and still amazing today. Written as a series of letters, its erotic nature appeals to men and women alike both straight and gay. I won’t spoil any details here for the exceptional individual that may read this post and be inspired to read this short masterpiece. But, even not having read the more recent viral sensation 59 Shades, I am fairly sure that Laclos beats it hands down.

And after Day 8 of my 3rd attempt to quit smoking, I bid you, my dear reader, good night and promise to be a little more attentive to your reading needs. Of course, loads and loads of comments to this and my other posts could also serve the point for encouragement and motivation :)

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About mfinocchiaro

IT Architecture Guru for large PLM software company but dabbling in Web 2.0 and other stuff.
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7 Responses to A recent anecdote for you

  1. Lisa says:

    I am only in chapter 3 and 50 Shades has got my attention. It’s an easy read, and I personally don’t read it for the literary content…as I am pretty sure most others do not either. I shall continue to read it and perhaps your suggestion also. but so far, I am involved and want more!

  2. yaykisspurr says:

    I feel your pain…
    I’m part of a book club and my selection was Kim by Rudyard Kipling. Not a single other person than myself actually completed the book. “They just couldn’t get into it…”, “It was so hard to read…”, etc. I think people reading just want something that doesn’t tax them…let’s them escape their reality and is rather fantastical. This made me sick as I’ve read it several times now and it’s my all time favorite book (so far).
    I’ve read Twilight (not any of the others) and the first 350 pages was setup! Setup! When a person is willing to read a 450 page book with 350 pages of setup and what amounts to a short story…you better believe they are going to become a rabid fan. It’s the way of humanity.
    I too read ABOUT 50 Shades and am totally uninterested and am quite disappointed so many people are fans of such trash… I think it’s a sad sign of the times.

    I hope I wasn’t too depressing. Cheers!

    • mfinocchiaro says:

      Kim too complicated? Kipling wrote it for his boy that was 14 years old! Back “in the day”, Kim was like Junior High reading material.
      Another friend commented that 50 Shades wasn’t all that bad, but I am still skeptical. Just because 100m people read a book doesn’t make it literature…ok enough ranting. I totally appreciate your comment – thanks yet again :)

      • yaykisspurr says:

        I know, I know! How can Kim be hard to slog through or hard to read?

        And I think 50 Shades allure isn’t the writing but getting to read about a simulation of Bella & Edward again…

      • mfinocchiaro says:

        I had to look up Bella and Edward on Google ‘cos I didn’t get it – Twilight apparently. From my understanding, Twilight is more of a pseudo-erotic glorification of “no sex until marriage” for the Jesus freak teenagers whereas 50 Shades is light S&M for desperate housewives…but again, perhaps I am dishonest intellectually because I have absolutely no intention of reading either series. Just dumb-founded by the commercial success of such formulaic pulp fiction.

  3. lili c. says:

    Fino-
    Im almost reluctant to reply since I could never keep up with your reading volume, you with a wife, full time job and 2 kids…However, what I don’t care for is the “murder mysteries” that are so well thought of, but are really just exploitation. Like of course the good guy detectives are out to catch the bad guy killers. But then then it really just seems an excuse to describe with some detail the torturing of the victims, usually beautiful young women. It’s very transparent, unintelligent, and does the opposite of what true art does to the human spirit. I suppose their guise would be that “this is what is true, what happens in real life” so we are just showing the truth? But why describe it, why sensualize it? The answer might be the literary ploy of making the reader feel: sort of an emotional depth he must cross to to be invested in the outcome of the killer being caught and brought to justice? On the contrary, I think we are fooling ourselves if we think that we are not somehow complicit in the crimes themselves: while imbibing wretched detail.

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