I am embarrassed to admit it, but I have read the entire Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, by E.L. James.
It wasn't just the pages of orgasmic writhing that made me squirm, it was also the quality of the writing. The errors were as numerous as the protagonist's orgasms: no, a 38-footer is not a super yacht; bougainvillea will not provide a heady scent on the Mediterranean because it has no fragrance; and only in mullet land could black jeans be considered sartorially elegant.
And I thought my head would explode after I read "inner goddess" for the 987th time and got sucked into a print-version vortex of bad daytime television.
Where were the sub-editors?
I'm not the only one in my social circle to have read the books. A friend who is pregnant with her third child and preparing to move overseas told me they took her mind off life's uncertainties. A high-powered lawyer said the books allowed her to indulge her fantasy of being the submissive in an S&M relationship. A friend in marketing thought product placement in print was a new idea and expected an ad for Apple or Audi on the back covers.
James seems to fit right in with her audience. The writer says the books are her "midlife crisis writ large. All my fantasies are in there".
Although nobody wants to be seen reading these books in public, they have still managed to occupy the top three positions on Hong Kong's best-seller lists for weeks.
The ultimate thing a sadist can say to a masochist might be "no", but there's no getting away from this phenomenon.