50 Shades of Blah

Yes it’s a publishing phenomenon, yes it’s made lots of money for its author, yes it’s got everyone talking about the genre of Erotica, but should we care about Fifty Shades of Grey?

Now, an admission here, I haven’t read all of even the first book, but I read the start, and was made nervous by the first line..

I scowled with frustration at myself in the mirror.

I skipped through it reading various bits, ok including the ‘naughty’ bits, and have read many reviews. What I read I found quite disturbing really. Not because of the sex scenes or the acts performed, those were pretty run of the mill really, following the well worn path of male fantasy, but because of the main character’s willingness to go along with what were clearly Mr Grey’s fantasies and obsessions, not her own. Reality was suspended in so many ways, not just for the sake of a good story.

I find it kind of sad and very irritating that this book is the one that has got people reading this genre, or thinking that this is an example of good erotic writing, as well it being the book that has made it ‘ok’ to read erotic fiction.

From a feminist perspective, I was disheartened that a woman writer would have a female character so desperate for the male protagonist’s affections that she would not insist she get even a little of what she likes to do in there occasionally and submit to things she wasn’t always into. I’m not saying there are aren’t women who enjoy shall we say, rough play, but I often didn’t get the sense it was consensual and it was pretty much always on his terms.

It started me thinking of all the really good erotica out there on the library shelves, written by some of the greats in literature, and I’d like to encourage people to give them a go. There is also plenty of interesting work online, work sold only as E Books.

Here’s a small list of great books available at Christchurch City Libraries to give you a starting point:

1. Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H Lawrence

2. Henry and June by Anais Nin

3.Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller

4.Delta of Venus by Anais Nin

5. Ulysses by James Joyce

6. The River Midnight by Lilian Nattel

7. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde


Oh, and if you read Fifty Shades of Grey and loved it or hated it, please tell me why!

Walking in Margaret Mahy’s wig

On Monday evening, I was on TwitterMargaret Mahy displays enjoying some Te Reo discussions. Tweets began to filter through that Margaret Mahy had died. They were tentative and probing tweets as people tried to discover if it was true. Her Wikipedia article had date of death added, Whitcoulls had a Facebook post, but many of us were eager to believe it was a hoax or misinformation.

But when Bookman Beattie posted R.I.P. Margaret Mahy 21 March 1936 – 23 July 2012 the librarians and journalists amongst us realised it was true. Gutted. We were gutted. I didn’t go to bed until much later – after a lot of emotional online sharing.

Monday had been a big day. Our new Central Library Tuam opened. Our wonderful and popular South Library closed after its seismic capacity was evaluated at less than 34 percent of the New Building Standard (NBS).

Margaret had of course been our Children’s Librarian – a Kiwi character, ardent library supporter and a peerless imaginative writer. A huge huge loss.

On Tuesday I donned a fuzzy wig in tribute to Margaret. It was her thing to wear the fro, or a costume – and I wanted to do a wee tribute. My daughter tried to wrestle it off me in the morning. No-one on the bus batted an eye. Librarians (many who had worked with Margaret) enjoyed my getup and shared their Mahy memories. We went wiggy online too – decorating our avatars on Twitter and Facebook.

On the bus home, a gent said “I love the look”. I said “Do you know what it’s about?”. He said “Oh yes, I saw you the other day dressed as a gargoyle”. Seemed to me a Mahy moment.

We loved you Margaret. And we’re so lucky to have your words still.  Arohanui.
Margaret Mahy book signing

Explore our Margaret Mahy resources:

Te Wiki o Te Reo Maori whakatauki #3

Ko te kai a te rangatira, ko te kōrero

Language is the food of chiefs.

Rāapa’s (Wednesday’s) whakatauki.

Browse our information and events for Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori — Māori Language Week 23 Hōngongoi — 29 Hōngongoi 2012.

Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori — Māori Language Week celebrates te reo Māori. The Māori language is a taonga that gives New Zealand its distinct and unique cultural identity.