Thursday, September 13, 2012

I Think I'm Gonna Read It ... You Know What

The highly controversial and wildly successful 50 SHADES OF GREY by EL James

A funny thing happened to me on the way to New York a couple weeks ago. 

My husband's seventy-one year-old aunt from Rome, who's a retired high school English teacher and probably one of the most brilliant and engaging conversationalists I've ever met, accompanied me on the four-hour drive from Boston to the Big Apple. When I tell you she's an engaging conversationalist, that's code for SHE-CAN-TALK-YOUR-EAR-OFF. Which I don't mind, since conversation always includes a little literature, philosophy, and some of her colorful-crazy life experience. I should probably mention at this point that before teaching, she'd studied philosophy and literature at the University of Rome (in retirement she's studying economics and computer science). 

Back to the story...

On our way out of Boston she said, sounding really excited, "I found something on the plane -- a brand new book in the front seat's pocket. Even had the receipt in it. Whoever it belonged to is going to be upset." You can imagine my reaction. Might as well have been a hundred dollar bill. So I probed her about the book. She didn't remember the title or the author's name but said it looked really good and promised to show it to me when we arrived at the hotel.

After sitting in an extra hour's worth of traffic and rushing to make a tour, I'd completely forgotten about her book. Later that evening as we dressed for dinner, with the RNC blasting on the TV in the background, she says to me (my back's to her), "Oh, here's the book I told you about." I turned to her handing me a shiny, new copy of EL James' 50 SHADES OF GREY. Hello! The book I've been ambivalent about reading, mainly because of all the hype (good and bad) surrounding it.

"You're reading this?" I asked, half-embarrassed, half-incredulous. "Of course," she replied, and went on to show me the places she'd underlined with pen; these were words she planned to look up. Was it wrong of me to assume this book's effects had rippled over to Italia? I mean, it's the all-time most downloaded book in the UK. So I took it upon myself to educate her with the little bit I've gleaned from social media and Saturday Night Live. You can imagine how that went.

Turns out she didn't know the alternative meaning for the word "bondage," which she completely grasped after I'd made several whipping and binding gestures. Yes, I know, ridiculous. I expected her to be appalled. Nope. Didn't bat an eyelash. In fact, she got a twinkle in her youthful blue eyes and said, "Really?" I laughed, "Yeah, really. You still going to read it?" "Well, why not?" she said. "I'm not that easily influenced. Now I'm looking forward to it." Although, she did later say that she'd have to hide the cover so people wouldn't know what she read.

So there you have it. If it's good enough for a lit and philosophy major, it's good enough for me. Except mine will be on the Nook.

Troublemakers in Times Square

Here's another title that looks interesting. :p
50 SHAMES OF EARL GREY by Fanny Merkin