Thursday, August 14, 2014

50 Shades

I’ve finally read that 50 Shades book. I know I am behind the times. Living abroad, I often find myself out of sync with what’s going on in the States. Being a weirdo, I often find myself out of sync with the human race, but that’s another story. Apparently this 50 Shades thing is old news to the point that the movie is coming out and I’ve just read the book. Anyone else behind the times out there?
As an aside, I read 12 Years a Slave at university if that scores me any points for cultural hipness.
I first heard about this book about a year ago in the supermarket of all places. A new supermarket opened up in our neighborhood and 50 Shades was one of their grand opening promotional items – only 30 zloty. Several stacks of books took up an end-of-aisle display, and I decided to give it a look. I looked. I scanned. I put it back.I bought bread and milk. Exciting day, it was.
Later one of my students asked me if I had read it. She read half and said it wasn’t worth reading further. I forgot about it.
Once not long after that when I went to help my 15-year-old neighbor with her homework, I noticed her mother was reading the book, the last of three in the series, as it turned out. The mother, about my age, asked me if I had read the books. I replied that I had not. Despite being deep into the third book, she did not recommend them either.
50 Shades of neighborhood Mom: Don’t read them. They’re not any good.
50 Shades of Amerykanka: Really? A lot of people all over the world have read them and the first book was on special at the new market. Isn’t that the third book?
50 Shades of Mom: OK, they’re good but not in the way you think. They’re kind of funny.
50 Shades of Amerykanka: Like funny, strange or funny ha, ha. (Yes, I am a conversational wizard).
50 Shades of Mom: So what would you say if you were in a room with a hot, sexy guy and he said he doesn’t make love, he only fucks?
50 Shades of Amerykanka: I’d probably laugh.
50 Shades of Mom: Exactly. I’d laugh too.
50 Shades of Amerykanka: Yeah, laugh and leave.
50 Shades of Mom: Oh no, I’d still fuck him, but I’d have a good laugh first.
Later while helping the daughter with her homework…
50 Shades of hormone-filled teenage girl: I read those books when my mom wasn’t home. They’re awesome.
Aww shucks. We started out together reading books in English, books such as Harry Potter, then we graduated to Twilight. I didn’t exactly know what was going to be next after Twilight but 50 Shades seems like a pretty big jump.
Even with all the hubbub, I still hadn’t read them. It’s not that I am a prude. It is more that I am never on the cusp of a trend. Not being up with the times means that you often don’t know what people are talking about. On the upside every time you fly, all the movies are new. Try it.
Finally, while visiting our village library, the librarian, a lovely lady who gives the library a real spirit and can only be described as serdeczna asked me if I wanted to be on the waiting list for 50 Shades in Polish. Apparently the book was racing through our village like wild fire. Again, I wondered, who is the target audience of this book and if it is as awful as everybody says, why is it so popular?
In the end, I did read it. I don’t know what logarithm my digital library uses but the book was constantly on my recommended list. I decided to give it a read.
It wasn’t awful, but here’s the problem with me and all books, films, television series – I often have a problem identifying with the main character. When I read Twilight with my teenaged neighbor I told her I couldn’t believe Bella would give up her life for her first boyfriend ever and anyway how could she do that to her father. The girl said, “Huh?” So in 50 Shades, I tried to remember that the characters are in their 20’s and what kind of person I was in my twenties and how I would have reacted at that age. I tried to identify to no avail. Basically, I think too much. I need to chill. Do they still use the word “chill”?
50 Shades is not the best book I have read recently, but I’d recommend it at least to know what people are talking about. The English version is way shorter than the Polish version. I know, because in the end I persuaded my husband to borrow it from the village library. At least when I was reading it on my Kindle, nobody knew I was reading “that sex book”. Totally inkoguto.
I don’t want Misiu to read it for any tips in the bedroom – he hasn’t started it yet. I suspect he may find the book a bit amusing as well. I want him to evaluate the translation. Some of my Polish friends said the book was vulgar. I didn’t find it vulgar in English. Detailed perhaps, but not vulgar. I also made him read some Marek Krajewski books with me in Polish and English. Result – Krajewski’s books have the same weird vibe in English as they do in Polish. Bravo to the translator.
I am most interested in the opinion of a friend who strangely enough started with book 2 in Polish. He plans to read book 3 in German which is universally heralded as the language of romance and sexuality, isn’t it? I’ve encouraged him to read book 1 first and in English before the German book 3. We’ll see which language is best suited to this kind of literature.
Other translating issues…
Every single day…

The short version…

It could happen to you…

A “thanks” to the Kindle which hides all my sins…

Can’t resist a good “pacz” joke…

And just in case they make a Polish version…

Laters, baby.*
*You knew I was going to write that, didn’t you?

10 comments:

Jennifer said...

Your post made me laugh. I feel the same about popular culture especially with being outside the U.S. I started 50 Shades finally last year and could not get halfway through the first one!

Zuzanka said...

So now it's time to read it finally? (Count me in to "read the hits 5 years later" list).

czarownica said...

Not read and not going to. Can't find any reason to waste time on it.
Being young I thought we should read/watch/listen to as much as possible. Soon realised my time here is too precious to waste it on rubbish books/movies/music.
So no, thanks.

Me said...

Muszę złożyć zażalenie, że Twoje wpisy pojawiają się zbyt rzadko. :)(Your posts appear too seldom)
W ogóle jestem ciekaw co czytasz z polskiej literatury. I czy sposobało by Ci się "Narrenturm" Sapkowskiego (zwłaszcza, że dzieje się na Śląsku).

Pozdrawiam i wnoszę o częstsze wpisy :)

Dorota Donigiewicz said...

Witam,

I read 50 shades in English, the whole series took me about a week. I didn't enjoy the language, I prefer Ken Follett 's or Nicholas Sparks' style of writing, but I couldn't resist to find out what happens so I finished all the books. They score 2 out of 5 from me :)

Chris said...

I made a vow to myself that if I start a book, I finish it. So Jennifer, when I started I knew that even if it wasn't any good I'd have to read it. I can't look at that half-read book. That's why I often wait a long time to start a book or series. Considering czar's philosophy my self-imposed vow seems a little silly now ;) However, I wasn't waiting to see if it got good but like Dorota D. I wanted to see how it finished. Plus I had low expectations so I couldn't even be disappointed.

It is true, Me, that my posts have been infrequent lately. I've had writer's block. Regarding Polish literature, I haven't read anything other than the newspaper in Polish since I got my Kindle. I will add your suggestion to my list.It might take me awhile to start it, but if I do, you can be sure I will finish it. It's my vow!

Wojtek said...

Cześć

Poważną literaturę czyta się :P .Zastanawiało mnie czemu ta książka jest taka popularna .Nie mogąc zrozumieć fenomenu zacząłem pytać znajomych ale nikt nie potrafił odpowiedzieć .Następnym krokiem było czytanie recenzji i dobrze to było ocenianie . Któregoś razu koleżanka chciała się przekonać o czym to jest więc kupiła to podczas przeceny .Jak skończyła czytać to poprosiłem aby streściła o czym to jest . Powiedziała , że książka jest ... o seksie . Dowiedziawszy się zapytałem czy nie lepiej jest zamiast tych opisów po prostu włączyć film erotyczny , a przy bardziej wyuzdanych opisach jakieś porno . Odpowiedziała , że jest to całkiem dobry pomysł bo zaoszczędziła by i czas i pieniądze . po ten rozmowie przekonałem się , że trzeba uważać na to co się kupuje lub wypożycza .

Generalnie mało czytam , ale jak już coś czytam , to najczęściej tą literaturę starszą(ale nie gardzę nowszą). Mało osób lubi książki np Stefana Żeromskiego albo Bolesława Prusa ponieważ są napisane archaicznym polskim .Mimo tego są dla mnie ciekawsze niż te nowsze książki( wiem , że odstaje od normy). W artykule napisałaś , że nie czytasz polskiej literatury . Nie dziwię się bo nasza literatura ze względów historycznych jest specyficzna i w pewien sposób wyjątkowa . Jest sporo trudniejsza do odbioru i to jeden z powodów mniejsza zainteresowania polską literaturą .

Przy okazji również powiem coś na temat przekładu. Przez półtorej roku widywałem się z dziewczyną , która studiowała 5 lat lingwistykę stosowaną i 3 lata japonistykę . Pisała pracę licencjacką a potem magisterską o sposobach przekazu tekstu (czyli tłumaczenie) . Powiedziała o pewnych zasadach tłumaczenia książek , które są niezbędne do poprawnego przekładu . Nie zawsze ludzie trzymają się zasad i potem wychodzą tłumaczenia które się nie nadają(trzeba uwzględnić też ludzi nie mających kwalifikacji, którzy się tym zajmują) (nie chodzi tylko o polskich tłumaczy). Często również tłumacze otrzymują zbyt niskie płace . Mała pensja powoduje , że tłumacz musi robić tego dużo kosztem efektywnego tłumaczenia . Ostatecznie mamy na rynku książkę mogącą być źle przetłumaczoną . Mam nadzieję , że przykładu tłumaczenia nie muszę podawać .

To by było na tyle . Jak se przypomnę coś jeszcze to napiszę drugi post

Chris said...

About translating, I agree with you Wojtek that the quality can be all over the place and as you mentioned it can be due to experience (or lack of) and/or due to low pay. Time is money and translating requires time to think, time which costs.
About 50 Shades, I wouldn't say it is porn. It's a romance novel which much more specific sex than is probably in a typical romance novel. I am not prudish about porn so I can say that watching a porn film is not a substitute for reading this book or vice versa. I speak from experience.
I don't think I especially need to be careful about the books that I buy or borrow. 50 Shades in no way has corrupted me. I was pretty corrupted already. I read a wide variety of books and authors, well, maybe a little heavy on the history, but I'm pretty well-rounded as a reader. And that includes Prus :)

Anonymous said...

Yo - so I haven't read it and I don't intend to. My friend's review of the book was funny enough that I have no need to read it at all. Here's that: http://goddessbnl.com/2012/06/13/50-shades-of-grey-by-e-l-james/

But since you said you had trouble identifying with the characters, remember that this book started out as Twilight fanfiction. So you kind of do know the characters?
-Amanda

Chris said...

Amanda - I lead a sheltered life. I had no idea it was Twilight fan fiction. I'm kind of glad I didn't know that when I read it, but it makes sense...another girl gives up her life for her first boyfriend ever. Just like in Twilight without the sparkly vampires but with way more sex.