At the end of the last chapter, one third of the way into the second book in the Fifty Shades series, Christian Grey finally tells Ana that he loves her, because E L James has no idea what rising action is.
Ana is overjoyed that her co-dependent relationship has been taken to the next level.
This beautiful, fucked-up man, whom I once thought of as my romantic hero—strong, solitary, mysterious—possesses all these traits, but he’s also fragile and alienated and full of self-loathing. My heart swells with joy but also pain for his suffering. And I know in this moment that my heart is big enough for both of us.
Now, yesterday Ariel talked about how James has run out of ways for Ana and Christian to escalate their intimacy and resorts to them drying each others’ hair and also talked about Ana expressing that she’s been bothered by not knowing who Christian’s dad is, even though her narration (as well as her two split-personalities) have never mentioned this thought once. And Ariel has criticized and mocked the shit out of it, and it was good, so I can’t really go into more detail here. So we’re going to talk about the scene where Christian buys Ana a car in excruciating detail.
No, seriously, the next couple pages actually read like a terrible skit you’d read in driver’s ed about learning how to buy a car. We get Ana’s confused thoughts on different types of cars.
“We need to get you a new car,” he says. I gape at him.
Now? On a Sunday? What the hell? And this is a Saab dealership.
And then Christian explains some facts.
“The Germans and the Swedes make the safest cars in the world, Anastasia.”
But Ana is still puzzled!
And demonstrates the potentially dangerous thinking of brand loyalty.
I resign myself to my fate. A Saab? Do I want a Saab? I quite like theAudi Submissive Special. It was very nifty.
Ana explains the difference between used and new cars.
“A Saab, sir? Pre-owned?” [The salesman] rubs his hands with glee.
“New.” Christian’s lips set into a hard line.
Christian picks a car.
“Did you have a model in mind, sir?” […]
“9-3 2.0T Sport Sedan.”
“An excellent choice, sir.”
But Ana is instantly swayed by the smarmy salesman when he suggests something flashier!
My subconscious is cringing in disgust, mortified by the whole buying-a-car business, but my inner goddess tackles her to the floor. Convertible? Drool!
But Christian reminds us we have to do research before you make such a significant purchase!
Christian turns to Troy. “What are the safety stats on the convertible?”
And seriously, this goes on tediously as hell for forever. Thankfully they finally buy a fucking car and then go do something else.
“I thought we’d go sailing this afternoon. This is my boat. […] Built by my company,” he says proudly and my heart swells. “She’s been designed from the ground up by the very best naval architects in the world and constructed here in Seattle at my yard. She has hybrid electricdrives, asymmetric dagger boards, a square-topped mainsail—”
Amazingly enough, the boat scene is even more tedious and detailed.
he steps off his captain’s chair and bounds up to the front of the boat to join Mac where he starts unfurling sails, untying ropes, and operating winches and pulleys. They work well together in a team, shouting various nautical terms to each other
And goes on way longer.
Christian and Mac hoist the mainsail. It fills and billows out as the wind seizes it hungrily, and the boat lurches suddenly, zipping forward. I feel it through the wheel. Whoa!
About seven pages later, James stops describing how boats work to us and, uh, Christian and Ana have sex again.
…okay, let’s go back to talking about why the technicality of the car and boat scenes suck.
The problem with this chapter isn’t so much that it goes into excessive and mundane details about discussing buying a car and taking a tour of an excessively explained and elaborate boat and then taking it out to sea. In fact, this sort of dedication to detail is important to writing the novel.
Remember how Ariel and I are English majors in our senior year of college? Yeah, sorry, get ready for some of that. Just bear with me for a minute.
As it just so happens, the reading I had to do for one of my English classes tomorrow, about the development of the genre that is the novel, discusses this sort of thing (seriously). Ian Watt’s The Rise of the Novel discusses a similarly tedious scene in Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, one of the first novels to really explore the idea of writing clear and easily-read prose to more realistically create characters and settings, in which the main character makes bread for seven pages.
by the eighteenth century […] there is a baker in every parish or village, and Defoe could therefore expect his readers to be interested in the very detailed descriptions
Basically, an important characteristic of the novel is its ability to focus on the mundane without “penalty”. Novels are allowed to be verbose and give excessive detail so long as the narrative uses this detail to depict realism. Obviously this is a gross oversimplification of the idea by an undergrad, but the point I’m trying to make is that while the reader is perfectly willing to read excessive detail about things they know relatively little about for the sake of understanding a character, reading a generic conversation about buying a car and how to drive a boat do nothing to invest us in these characters. This is excessive and mundane information that does nothing more than pad the narrative, which (if you count the first novel) is now around six hundred and fifty pages long.
Anyway, speaking of excessive and mundane, let’s go back to the sex scene.
“That’s right, baby . . . give it up for me . . . Please . . . Ana,” he murmurs and his words are my undoing.
Wait a second, didn’t we read this word-for-word six chapters ago?
“Come on, baby,” he gasps. “Give it to me.”
His words are my undoing, and I explode
You’re actually just using copy-paste to write this by this point, aren’t you, James?