Fifty Shades Success Explained by Nabokov

In 1956, the great Vladimir Nabokov wrote a short piece he called ON A BOOK ENTITLED LOLITA.
Apart from being a beautiful piece of writing in itself, he explains the seemingly unexplainable success of Fifty Shades of Grey.
You see, when he tried to find a U.S publisher for Lolita, all four he submitted the manuscript to completely misunderstood the work, some not even finishing reading it, and labelled it “pornography”, not mummy porn, but nevertheless, it’s certainly strange to hear Nabokov’s work labelled as anything like the pedestrian work of E.L James.

So here’s the relevant parts of Nabokov’s words.

‘… the term “pornography” connotes mediocrity, commercialism, and certain strict rules of narration. Obscenity must be mated with banality because every kind of aesthetic enjoyment has to be entirely replaced by simple sexual stimulation which demands the traditional word for direct action upon the patient.’


‘Thus, in pornographic novels, action has to be limited to the copulation of clichés. Style, structure, imagery should never distract the reader from his tepid lust. The novel must consist of an alternation of sexual scenes. The passages in between must be reduced to sutures of sense, logical bridges of the simplest design, brief expositions and explanations, which the reader will probably skip but must know they exist in order not to feel cheated ( a mentality stemming from the routine of “true” fairytales in childhood). Moreover, the sexual scenes in the book must follow a crescendo line, with new variations, new combinations, new sexes, and a steady increase in the number of participants (in a Sade play they call the gardener in), and therefore the end of the book must be more replete with lewd lore than the first chapters.’

So, casting my eyes through the above, I see the words mediocrity, commercialism, banality, and copulation of clichés. Fifty Shades certainly hasn’t much bothered us with style, structure or imagery, and to apply the words sutures of sense to James’s plot would be more than flattering.
The only difference between these Shades tragedies of literature and Nabokov’s suggestion of what constitutes a basic commercial pornographic novel is that in the Shades books the protagonists are faithful to each other. Which the TrendyPornMummies love. The simple twist that made it right for our times, and ok for every mindless mummy to love.

Comment as nicely or nastily as you like below, then please never speak of the above-mentioned books here ever again. Except for Lolita, which you should feel free to mention here and anywhere else you please, every day, forever and ever and ever. And we’ll live happily ever after.

Wanna argue about it?
Or better still, tell me which other great writer has advice for us on how to write the next MegaBestSellingPieceOfCrap???


What Home Looks Like

I don’t have proper photos yet, but thought I’d show you a few of these, just so you get the idea.

This is the dining table. What you can’t see is that it’s a 100 year old cast iron hospital table/writing desk. Adjustable enough so I can write at it sitting or standing. And it tilts to become a writing slope.
I had to put a new top on it, which is actually a single piece of Australian Red Cedar, my favourite timber, just edging out oregon. This piece of timber is really old too, salvaged from an ancient piece of broken furniture. The armrest under the window is the same timber.
Yes, that granny blanket draped over the seat is mine. Yes, I’m comfortable with that. It reminds me of my grandmothers. And that mess you see top left is usually hidden under the lounge cushions.

This next pic is looking to the rear of the bus The lounge cushions, for some reason, are up against the back windows.
The cupboard over the bed is where I keep my clothes, it’s Australian Red Cedar, and was a bugger to build there.
The doors are off a 1940s Tasmanian oak kitchen dresser. It was my favourite piece of furniture. Many photos of my kids have that dresser in the background, then it was damaged while in storage.
So I took off the doors, used the bottom doors on the cupboard under the lounge, and these doors here.. they’re leadlight with concave glass, and beautiful handmade workmanship from the 1940s. And they still have the beautiful original hinges.
The lamp at the left is a bit of Aussie history, a highly collectable Planet Lamp from Bellingen NSW. Ms iSkirt found it for a dollar at a garage sale, and gave it to me for the bus instead of selling it for hundreds of dollars. So maybe I’ll let her come with me when I travel around Australia. I might even let her sleep in my bed sometimes. If she behaves.

Below is what I see above me when I wake up in the morning. I’m no cabinet maker, but there’s something so satisfying about having made something beautiful that works. It’s a tiny home, but it’s comfortable, and it’s beautiful, at least in my eyes.
Any home is ok, a roof over your head is better than none. But an ordinary house compared to building something you love is like a churned out ebook compared to a beautiful hardcover book someone loved so much it had to be a work of art in itself.

An oregon book case, a big wide opening side door at the foot of the bed, lots of sunshine, bare feet and a borrowed dog. Does it get any better than this?

This is the first meal I cooked after connecting the gas. Mmmm… sausage, egg and mushrooms.
It shows the very modern 3 burner gas cooker and sink, with its glass top raised into the splashback position.
It also shows the oregon bench top, made from two really old painters planks. Pity you can’t see it properly, it’s really something.
And if you look bottom right, you can see a little bit of one of the 1911 hand carved Kauri Pine cupboard doors. Lousy photo of something beautiful. I gotta get some decent photos.
And at the top you can see a tiny bit of the hand carved Australian red cedar I salvaged from a broken chaise lounge.

Here’s a close up of the oregon bench top. Too close to see how beautiful the grain is, but hey, it has the remains of one of the bullets my old man threw into the fire when I last visited him.

And here’s what happens when some madman throws bullets into the fire, if you’re lucky. Yeah, I still have my eyes and all my genitalia. I was lucky.

So, that’ll do for now.
As you can see, it was originally a school bus. I moved some letters a bit, and added UN in front. From a distance it looks like COOL BUS, then as I get close people see the UN.
I did that for a joke with my kids, but plenty of people seem to get enjoyment from it, so I left it. So there it is.
My UnCool bus, seen here parked beside a pretty little creek. The best home I’ve ever lived in, and a work in progress.

What Faces Look Like

Ok ladies, here he is.
Actually, he’s a girl puppy, and that’s an ugg boot, and my very beautiful daughter would be horrified to see this pic on here, sans makeup, and seriously needing to stand a lot closer to a hairbrush.
And her name is Scruffy. Not my daughter, the dog. Thank goodness for punctuation. ( Not my daughter the dog? )
Actually my daughter calls her Sooky, but I call her Scruffy, and so do the ladies in every opshop between Tuncurry and Urunga, but that’s another story. Anyway, give me your favourite punctuation mistake.
Maybe I should have said “your most colourful punctuation mistake”, then all you Americans would have thought I’d made TWO spelling mistakes, but that’s another story too. So many stories… someone should write some of them…

What Life Looks Like

Chook struts to waterbowl, pauses, looks at water… head turns half away… Moves off… pecks at nothing, feigns another peck, pecks again…
Man watches all through shadecloth screened dunny door, sees iron lacework, recently invented shadecloth, lazy stillness of spring… he shits…. Feels time stretched all ways… life moves… somewhere…

What Drinking Water Looks Like

Where’s the story ?

Is the story on the water, under it, in it ?
Is the story the water itself, or how it got there ?
Is the story the reflections on the surface, the ripples sent out by the crazy old man, the good times shared by three generations of family as we drank coffee we made with the water ? What’s the story ?