Remarkable the things you find when you’re moving house.
A couple of years ago, I had a freelance job writing an ebook guide to Fifty Shades of Grey. Sort of like York notes, so people could get an idea of what it was all about without having to read it. Unfortunately, to spare others the pain, I was obliged to endure it myself.
It was an interesting exercise. I hadn’t read a book I didn’t like since I was at university, and it took me the better part of two weeks to claw my way through its asinine narrative, sustained only by the thought of my invoice.
Not that you can really hold it against E L James, who in fairness has never claimed to be a great writer. She wrote it for her own enjoyment (on her phone, apparently), and the novel’s runaway popularity was not due to crafty marketing, but simply because loads of people bought it. You can’t say fairer than that. Nevertheless – and even allowing for the fact that I’m not exactly in the target demographic – Fifty Shades is every bit as terrible as the worst review you have read.
Writing my ebook was much more fun. I was expressly told that my summary and analysis should not judge the novel, but I was allowed to take refuge in humour. Last month, while clearing out my London flat, I unearthed the piece of paper below. I think this eye-watering scrawl of filthy language and tally marks is all that remains of my notes for the ‘sex scene statistics’ and ‘cliché counter’ chapters.