I’m not even going to take five minutes out of my rich and busy literary life to google how many copies of this feeble illiterate soft-porn political/socio-sexual travesty have actually been sold, but I do have a few observations on the phenomenon.
1. As anyone with any taste at all (readers, search your souls) knows, the books are truly dreadful in a myriad of ways — but they do serve to confirm the utter cluelessness of publishing in terms of predicting the next big trend. So next time your publisher tells you that XXX (and by that I mean ‘fill in the blank’ rather than ‘hardcore porn’) won’t sell, respond by asking if they predicted wizards, vampires or mommy-porn.
2. For those of us trying to improve the human condition ever-so-marginally by modest offerings of wisdom, insight or wit, it is always worth remembering that the vast majority of the public (excluding, obviously, my wise and wondrous readers) have no taste at all. See also, Jeffry Archer.
3. Having said that, I must admit to experiencing hours of pleasure in regard to this book — no, not that way — by imagining a small alteration in the protagonist from Christian Grey to Jewish Grey. Try it yourself.
“You said you had the key to the handcuffs! Oy yoy yoy. Wait, I’ll call my mother, one of her ex-husbands was big in hardware…” or “Just sign this contract and you will enter a world of pleasure beyond your….whaddaya mean you won’t sign till your lawyer sees it? Feh, now I have to have my lawyer check it too, this is gonna cost me.” or “You got any lox? No not locks, LOX.”
4. And finally, I’d like to point out to all the unpublished authors out there that a book containing the line, “I steal into the bathroom, bewildered by my lack of underwear,” has just sold a great many millions of copies. What this says about the state of publishing and the mind of the average consumer of books may or may not be hopeful, but does suggest that talent is not a prerequisite to a successful career as a writer.
And now back to Hilary Mantel.