Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom read the best-selling erotica-lite novel, Fifty Shades of Grey, and decided to write a column.
Traversing a familiar road, the disconnect of society in the era of technology (see: Siri, the Internet), Albom once again admits that he is befuddled by the modern world. Specifically, a world where BDSM-lite erotica hits the #1 bestseller list, and a newspaper reviewer uses the word "penis" in an article.
We see you eyeing those book sales numbers, Mister. Don't do it. Nobody wants to read about the five male Doms you meet in heaven.
In Albom's Sunday column for the Free Press, he laments the end of modesty in a world where naughty programming like Cathouse and Girls play on television, but stresses that the problem is his alone: "I'm just asking, when did I fall so far behind? When did all this stuff become so front and center? Or frontal and center?"
But it's not like Fifty Shades of Grey is the first popular novel to use sex as a plot device -- or even that kinky, scary stuff that's gotten Albom so worked up. Let's talk about the 27 years Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer was banned in America. Philip Roth's journey into the realm of self-pleasuring in Portnoy's Complaint. Or all that parental longing in Nabokov's Lolita. Honestly, if you read literature, this stuff has always been kind of "frontal and center."
One could make the argument that women today are comfortable enough with their sexuality to unabashedly purchase a book that's written about sex. Except that we'd be unfairly maligning the brilliant careers of Danielle Steel, Judith Krantz, and, oh, the entire genre of romance novels written for ladies with frisky imaginations since forever. Steel has sold 800 million books and is the best-selling author ALIVE. If there's any difference, it's just that your average Krantz bestseller (say, I'll Take Manhattan) mixed the juice with some efforts at plot and character development.
Besides, it's kind of ridiculous to lament the death of modesty in America, while at least partially attributing its downfall to a best-selling women's erotica book, when men have been ogling copies of Playboy, Hustler and Penthouse from the racks of every party store and newsstand since Albom was a lad.
But it doesn't stop Albom from delivering a threat in his final lines:
"I have a feeling I am not the only one. In fact, maybe there is unity in embarrassment and blushing. If so, I might even write a bestseller.
I'll call it Fifty Shades of Red."
Here's another one: why not Fifty Shades of Dread?