author C.C.Cole's blog

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Review of “Fifty Shades Darker: Book Two of the Fifty Shades Trilogy by E.L. James

In round two of the bestseller erotic series, the favorite pervert of today Christian Grey reunites with main character Ana only a few days after she left him for abusive intimate behavior.  They make a new start, trying to have a more normal courtship than a dominant/submissive pairing.  As they continue the usual sexcapades, a jealous ex-girlfriend shows up, the older woman who taught Christian his over-the-top sex-ed gets told off by a jealous Ana, and Christian reveals to Ana his darkest secret:  That he is a sadist.  While reeling from this “surprising” news, he reveals a secret about his deceased mother and says wants to solidify their relationship because of their mutual love.

The second book in this series to me re-creates the character Christian to now be a “nice guy” pervert.  Instead of some transcendence, to me it reads more like a re-writing of the character.  For this kind of story, I can deal with that, as progressing this relationship with such a sadistic man would be difficult for readers.

Now that we have a “nice” Christian, his confession to Ana about his sadism is quite ridiculous given her surprised response.  That was difficult to read.   The “mean” Christian unfortunately was stronger characterization.

But the worst part to me is Christian’s revelation of his background.  Apparently, the troubled sadist’s deceased mother was a prostitute with an abusive pimp.  Christian’s submissive ex-girlfriends look like her. So Ana now feels sorry and protective of her man like a good co-dependent should and as a reader I feel nauseated by a cliché “explaining” the controlling behavior.

So the second book of “Fifty Shades” leaves the reader with for entertainment is the over-the-top, fantasy, repetitive sex and nothing else.  Regarding the sexual content, at least it’s consensual couple adult intimacy.  One review on amazon stated that Ana should have a urinary tract infection by now I found hilarious.  Otherwise, I dislike negative reviews, but here is one.  1 ½ stars.  But for the curious and “Shades” fans, don’t let me stop you.  Give Christian another chance and decide for yourself.

On Crashing the Clichés

"Brokeback Mountain"

While I’m on my adult bestseller reading drive of the “Fifty Shades” series, last week I watched the past controversial film “Brokeback Mountain,” for the first time in a few years.  When this movie debuted, I remember the media frenzy, not just movie news, but also on news opinion.  As I look back, I wonder why the excessive hype, besides the obvious non-cliché story of gay cowboys.

As usual, the best place to go with interest in a film is where it originated, in this case, the short story by Annie Proulx.  I downloaded it on my kindle and read it in about an hour.  This Pulitzer Prize winning writer to me earned her acclaim; this is a very well written story.   For the film, ace writer Larry McMurtry had a reported role in the adaptation of the screenplay, which extrapolates extremely well by developing Jack’s wife’s character and softening up the gay guys, who in the original story are not only failures as husbands but are also indifferent, disconnected fathers.

Now that this film is in memory, the clarity of familiarity can puncture through the gloss of indignity.  What Annie Proulx did is take a cliché of cowboys being macho men womanizers and created the same macho men womanizers with a private gay relationship.  (The guys still liked the ladies).  While it may have irked some people, as a writer, doing what she did by turning the expected into the unexpected, is what made the story.   If Ennis and Jack chased women in the 1960’s for twenty years, it may have made a nice story, but doubtfully had the same impact on the audience.

I’m glad the controversy over “Brokeback Mountain” has passed over.  Now that it has, sometimes writers can learn from other writers who dared to crash a cliché, and do it well.  We lost a great talent in Heath Ledger.  When we’re left with a down note, what we can do is appreciate the work of storytellers, both writers and actors.

Review of “Nimpentoad” by Josh Herz, Henry Herz Sean Eddingfield (illustrator)

“Nimpentoad” is a charming little story for children about a variety of little critters finding a way to combine friendships with others and to realize badfellas are out there.  The writing uses a lot of “squirmy” words that I remember liking in stories told to me as a child.  Though the illustration doesn’t show up as well on kindle, from the cover on line, I suspect the actual book’s art is great, and for purchases, I recommend that version.  All around wonderful, five stars!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

On Fifty Shades of Book Reviews

Bestseller reviews tend to have a wide range of opinions, but this naughty novel has a polarizing collection of reviews on amazon.  Readers either love it or hate it, with a deep breath or a sharp spanking (pun intended).

The story goes:  Twenty-one year old Anastasia (Ana), an unworldly college graduate and virginal girl meets the handsome (don’t know what he looks like, but he’s hot, she says so!) Christian Grey, a multibillionaire in which she interviews him, becomes immediately attracted, and asks him if he’s gay.  Finding her a turn-on, he cures her virginity with maddening pleasurable sex.  He presents her with what he wants of their relationship; he wants to be dominant and her submissive, included with an itemized list of supposedly pleasurable games for his room of pain.  Like any normal girl that can’t resist a good-looking billionaire sex god, she goes for it, but unofficially.  After several sexual encounters each with explosive endings and repeats, Christian finally, by Ana’s request, pushes her beyond the physical limits she’s willing to tolerate in the relationship, so she leaves him.  For an erotic novel with so many climaxes the ending completely anti-climactic. 

For the criticisms, I see them all, from the teenage immaturity of the main character to the repeated writing of the sex badly in need of a thesaurus.  For those that dislike the demanding and sadistic man, I have no argument.  My biggest criticism is, this is not my genre of first choice.  I write and read action, but not that kind of action.

But criticisms aside, let’s be fair to the author.  After all, this is a bestseller.  People are reading it in droves. Women are reading it, any fellas read this yet?  First, the lead character, Ana:  What is so terrible about her?  She’s young, naïve, and has the kind of insecurity that a predatory man would want.  Of course, she is beautiful and thin, but in erotic reading, this is fantasy.  If the reader is to fantasize such acts, what should they look like?  Thought so.

Second, the bad boy Christian:  Is he so terrible?  It’s not every day a pervert shows up with an itemized list of his perversions.  He’s not a rapist, is monogamous, and presented himself to her exactly how he turned out to be.  Honesty in sexual perversion, in rational thinking, is honesty in itself.  He reminds me of Patrick in “American Psycho” without the body parts  (thank goodness).

If this novel has a message, and I think it does (barely) is that relationships based upon sex have a deleterious effect on the personal lives of the partners. Sex is not love.  She wants love.  He does not.  Another point is one of dominance.  When one in a relationship is dominated, she/he tends to believe they control the situation when they don’t.  It’s domestic violence wearing a different mask:  The mask of permission. 

Does this erotic novel give me a fantasy?  Yes.  This poor couple is mismatched.  Ana needs Edward Cullen.  Christian needs Lisbeth Salander (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).  She could definitely teach him something.

Overall, is this bestseller that bad?  No.  Is it that good?  No.  Like most things, it’s somewhere in between.  It stands in its genre and leaves enough story open to finish the series.   2 ½ stars to me.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

On the Genuine Richard Sanders

I met Richard virtually several months ago, and have recently read a couple of his books.  Reviews below:

“Dead Heat” is a story about a gubernatorial election gone awry with the murder of a candidate’s wife.  The twists and turns the story takes challenges the reader to a dark but intriguing ride as it unfolds into unpredictable outcomes.  This book is well titled, to say the least.  I found the end surprising, the read entertaining, and overall highly recommend at four stars!

“Dead Time Story” is a fractured account of historic events and stories told in a way that only Richard Sanders can.  He tells his stories with humorous dark cynicism, which is well done and a nice take from self-righteousness.  I really enjoyed this read, seeing the world and reading a love story done with fun but classy “Richard Sanders fashion.”  Entertaining and great, five stars!

author Richard Sanders
Richard is not a newbie writer, with a resume of writing for high-profile journals.  After recovery from substance abuse and jail time, he doesn’t present himself to be perfect.  To me, his genuine take on the world reflects upon his writing style, which is fast paced, dialogue-driven, and as unpretentious as he is.   He has written a number of books, is devoted to his wife, and is a supporter of other writers.  I say Good for Richard.  And Good for us as readers.  May his many days be blessed!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

On Powerful Patriarchs

"The Kennedys"

I’ve written before how family structure can impact fictional writing.  As I think more about famous historical families, one can hardly overlook the famous fathers that gave us sons and daughters to become either as or more famous.  No powerful person can truly know their legacy in full while alive, but for many of them it’s a driving motivator as well as wanting the children to reach great heights in history also.

Sometimes patriarchs are referred to as “the Old Man,” or just “Father,” as the all-knowing, or if not, the all approving of family members.  Nothing happens without the nod of Father.  Work for the family company?  Ask Father.  Join the military?  Ask Father.  Marry a man?  Ask Father.  Run for political office?  Ask Father.  Going to which college?  Ask Father.  So, come the clichés:  Want to be in the family Will?  Don’t tick off Father.  Marry a man that’s the wrong religion?  Father never speaks to you again!  You played at college?  Father cuts you off!

Can powerful fathers be an inspiration for fictional writers?  Yes.  Fathers can exert their own powerful will onto their children in a way no other person can in their lives.  A wimp can become a tough guy.  An anti-hero will become a hero.  A shy girl becomes a smart business executive.  Or a nice kid becomes a bully.  A popular girl becomes promiscuous.  Children become runaways.  Mothers wise up, often taking the children with her. 

Do powerful fathers need to be “good” or “bad?”  No.   To me, it depends on the story, and simplicity brings forth clichés.  That doesn’t mean it’s wrong, because some simpler story concepts give room for a more complex inner message.  But when we think of the real men, the powerful family patriarchs, we usually find not simple good or evil but controversy.  Very few people lead simple lives, and the powerful are able to accomplish deeds that affect the world historically; therefore it’s easier to scrutinize the lives of the famous.  Several powerful people tend to get there because they want power, and if we could ask, they would say they would also want privacy.

Powerful patriarchs give us historic realities and fantasy inspirations.  Joe Kennedy was real and Tywin Lannister was fictional.  Were they perfect?  No.  Were they rich?  Yes.  Were they stupid?  No.  Were they worthy of remembrance?  Definitely.

On the Blog Bank

Ft Knox

When I started writing blog articles over a year ago, I didn’t know how many I’d write, or how often I’d write them.  Today, I still don’t know.  Like others, as I’ve written before, have creative shutdowns, anti-creative moments, and a longtime migraine career that interferes with almost everything.  When asked on interviews if I write consistently or sporadic, it’s sporadic with a capital “S.” 

As time moved on, I realized my blog articles began to pile up, so I could recycle them in during cyber blackouts.  When I think about scanning Twitter, one gets a few seconds of exposure at the most per user (or less, for the mathematics experts out there).  Therefore, one article may take several postings to get much exposure.  Also, it goes without saying (writing) that some articles present more interest to the masses than others, but that’s part of being a writer.  What are we supposed to do, write the same?

My blog is three types of articles most of the time:  1) articles about dark fantasy 2) articles about what impacts a writer of any genre 3) book reviews.  At the end of the year, I do a few “summation” articles of favorite books, authors, and bloggers.  What I try to avoid like the plague:  1) my political opinions 2) extensive autobiographical details 3) specific issues about book sales.  What other bloggers write to me is up to them; I prefer to see the diversity and originality to blog links I’ve seen already on other sites.  Just because I don’t write a topic myself doesn’t mean I’m not interested. 

Many wise bloggers give the same advice:  back up your blog.  I don’t mind regurgitating this important point.  Whatever you write is yours and as a writer in this age of technology, it is your (our) responsibility to protect what we’ve created.   Experienced writers advised me early on to keep anything I’ve written on my novels to always keep (I used to delete passages that made my eyes burn to read), so now I have a “loser file” for any writing that may have made the “round file” during the typewriter age.  Many virtual sites exist for storing your work.  Do some research and see what looks appropriate for you.

Over time, every blog article you write will be like putting money in a bank (Let’s not go into current events about banks in this article; Fantasy will suffice here).  You’ve created something and it’s worth saving.  Someday you may need it.  Our minds are a bank of our life experiences that are reflected in our writing.  Don’t throw it away.