The owner of a hotel in England recently replaced guest copies of the Holy Bible, the world’s bestselling book, with Fifty Shades of Grey, the soft-porn bestseller than inspires horny women to imagine torrid but poorly written fantasies. While I endorse creative marketing strategies and applaud freedom of physical expression, I can only assume that the hotel management will also provide locked safes for families with children, and disposable, battery-operated toys for those flying solo.
Because I can’t stop myself from noticing the profound and conspicuous differences between the two books, I’ve noted an excerpt from each:
“As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among men. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste…. Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, for (his) love is more delightful than wine.”
—“Song of Solomon,” Old Testament, written 3,000 years ago
“I found some baby oil. Let me rub it on your behind.”
—Fifty Shades of Grey, bestselling novel and pending movie
I don’t want to debate religion (thank God.) I’m merely questioning the literary value of certain bestselling books. It doesn’t take much imagination to slither into Anastasia Steele’s sticky bedroom where she exclaims with amazement, “I don’t remember reading about nipple clamps in the Bible!”
But it takes thought and reflection to get lost in Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (a personal favorite) or to feel the heartache described in The Help by Kathryn Stockett or to appreciate the wit of Olive Ann Burns in Cold Sassy Tree. Maybe it’s all a matter of balancing excellence with trash, much like enjoying the occasional corn dog at the fair. But it’s also important to use or lose the delicate sensory perception abilities that come from our brains to arouse the gray matter between our ears instead of between the sheets.
Ironically, there is a subtle connection with Fifty Shades of Grey and A Tale of Two Cities, the all-time bestselling novel ever written. Biographers of the author Charles Dickens wrote that he believed that prolific sexual activity was necessary for a healthy man. The sub-plot for his great novel centers on the sexual exploitation of a young, powerless girl by an older, powerful man. Sounds like the prelude to Fifty Shades.
(This excerpt is taken from my new book Midlife Cabernet. The book will be released in April and contains 18 chapters about life, love, and laughter after age fifty. Find event and ordering details on www.MillParkPublishing.com.)