Sunday, July 29, 2012

E.L. James vs. King James

This caught my eye the other day (from the Westmorland Gazette):
E.L. James vs. King James:

A HOTEL boss has swapped Bibles in his bedrooms for copies of the raunchy novel Fifty Shades of Grey – and the local vicar is not happy.
The Rev Michael Woodcock spoke of his dismay after hearing about the book of choice at the Damson Dene Hotel, Crosthwaite.
He said it was 'a great shame' to replace the Gideon Bibles at the rural retreat with an explicit, erotic novel.
Hotel manager Wayne Bartholomew said the move to install the steamy bestseller was in response to popular demand.
I find Bibles in hotel rooms annoying--they take up half the space in the bedside drawer that I need for other things. But they're such a part of the cultural furniture that I don't find them offensive, despite some of the horrors between the covers. There again, I don't get offended easily. I do get pissed off. (For some that's a subtle distinctin. The verb offend makes me think of prissy, purse-mouthed repressives, the kind of people who actively seek out situations that will register on their offend-o-meter. Perhaps I'm over-thinking this.) However, I suspect that if someone unexpectedly foisted Fifty Shades of Grey upon me I wouldn't be pleased.

I'm not a fan of bad writing, even less of powerful-boy-dominant-on-not-powerful-girl-submissive SM fiction. It (cough) reinforces the master narrative, the dominant paradigm. In other words, it's a cliché. And you all know I find clichés pernicious. And Fifty Shades hasn't been around long enough for me to become inured to it.

So if you ran a boutique hotel popular with couples, what would you put in the  bedrooms? I think I'd choose a themed library of three or four books, a couple of pieces of art, and one or two films that would match each room. The Bronco Suite, for example, might have My Ántonia, a paperback by Louis L'Amour, and perhaps Molly Gloss's The Dazzle of Day. A painting or bronze by Remington to gaze at. And video streaming selections of Shane, Brokeback Mountain, and something with John Wayne or Gary Cooper. I'm drawing a blank on music. Any thoughts? On the hospitality tray, in addition to usual crappy snacks, there might be beef jerky and a couple of packets of chicory coffee. For a bit extra, guests could rent chaps, hat, and a rope...

...You see what even mentioning that bloody book does to one's thought train? Clichés are infectious. Tuh.
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