Saturday, September 1, 2012

Fifty Shames Of Earl Grey

Fifty Shames of Earl Grey
So, you’ve feverishly read through most of E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy — that third one takes some work, right — the movie is eons away, and now you’re getting kind of tired of seeing everyone, their mother and their brother-in-law reading the books on the train, the plane and everywhere in between. What’s next? Fifty Shames of Earl Grey by the pseudonymous Fanny Merkin (a.k.a. book blogger Andrew Shaffer) is kind of the perfect beach read for the end of summer and the end of your obsession. 

If you have cleared fantasies of Christian and Ana and the Red Room of Pain from your mind, you might be starting to see the absurdities of the books’ plot and characters — how does no one call the authorities on Christian’s stalkerish behavior? How would a publishing company hire a girl fresh out of college to be an editor, regardless of who owns the place? The list goes on. Earl Grey just takes those absurdities a little further with the story of Anna Steal and Earl Grey. 

The skeleton of the plot is the same, but the details are hilariously exaggerated. Anna’s roommate, “a total B,” is Kathleen Kraven, an alcoholic 38-year-old writer for Boardroom Hotties. Their friend Jin is a Brony, Before her interview of Earl, she has actually never ridden in an elevator because “we don’t have elevators in Portland.” Anna works at Walmart. Earl Grey buys Walmart in his efforts to impress/control her. Oh, and he’s not into your average BDSM — his version stands for “Bards, Dragons, Sorcery and Magick,” as in very sexy LARP-ing.

Of course, there are also sex scenes, which are even funnier than the rest, thanks to Earl’s Room of Doom, which Anna dubs the Dorm Room of Doom due to its black-light posters, incense and waterbed, and Anna’s smelly feet. But Anna certainly enjoys her experience in there: “The only other time I’ve felt this good is when I shot smack with Kathleen,” she thinks to herself. And oh, her thoughts to herself — thankfully unaided by any goddesses or glasses-wearing librarians — they’re full of silly observations that totally make the book.
“Most times,” she confesses to Earl, “my mind is just an ongoing, present-tense, first-person monologue. It’s like I’m writing a novel, constantly, but only in my brain. A really bad novel.”
But don’t worry, Fifty fans, none of this humor is mean-spirited. It’s more loving homage, meant purely for those who have already read the original and need to make fun of themselves for getting so wrapped up in it.

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