Jun 9, 2012

Mushrooms on Toast. Book Impressions.

For some strange reason I haven't been able to figure out despite living with myself for over 35 years, today I found myself up at the crack of dawn on yet another Saturday morning.  And I had to pick the coldest June morning of the year to stick to my routine.

The ultimate short cut breakfast, the only thing I had to chop was the brown onion.

I decided to make the warmest room of the house the kitchen and did a Nigella Lawson in my pyjamas (plus a throw rug worn blanket style and my pink uggs - bet you Nigella's never worn those together on set) as I set about collecting ingredients for a cooked breakfast.  The photo's a bit of a giveaway - mushrooms on toast were on the menu and I used this recipe from Steve Mandfredi.

It's well worth a try if you're looking for breakfast mushrooms that aren't too rich or creamy because Steve fries the mushrooms in just a little olive oil - no cream or butter required.  I thinned out the mushrooms with a little chicken stock towards the end.  Beggars can't be choosers on wintry mornings - the dried parsley (rather than the recommended fresh flat leaf) still tasted pretty good.

Armed with a delicious and steaming hot breakfast, I poured myself a cup of tea and settled down to eat with my Kindle in front of me.  It's probably just as well the words on it are blurred in this photo because I managed to snap one of the more succinct pages from that book everyone's talking about these days...

Image courtesy of www.parajunkee.com
Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James.  The 'erotic fiction' novel that started as an e-book and then took the world by storm.  I have also read vicious rumours that young Selena Gomez is to star in the film.  Nooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Image courtesy of weeklyworldnews.wordpress.com
I guess you can tell from my choice of images so far that I'm not a fan.  But at the same time it's such train wreck reading I've been faithfully turning the pages of clunky prose all day.  I still haven't finished it, I'm not sure if I'll be able to but I definitely have an opinion or two about it.  What I have to say is more opinion than an actual review.  I don't think I've ever read another novel that just begs for a strong response from its readers for all the wrong reasons and possibly for some valid ones.

I found this breathless ad in a recent New Idea.  It's a strange state of affairs when New Idea endorses erotica a page after a great strawberry cheesecake recipe....

Okay, whilst eating my breakfast this morning, I was technically one of the hundreds of thousands of women who spent 'private time' with the novel but I think 'quality' can mean so many things to different people.  A nice moment of peace and quiet in the early morning or exactly what Entertainment Weekly was innuendoing about.

Then there was the article in today's Good Weekend heralding 'Fifty Shades of Grey' as being a pivotal novel in the revival of the erotic genre.  Whatever.

Many of you have probably heard of or else read 'Fifty Shades of Grey' and its depiction of the strange sexual relationship of the naive yet feisty yet shy articulate yet bumbling yet intelligent yet plain yet beautiful 'submissive' student Anastasia Steel and her devastatingly handsome and suave 'dominant' Christian Grey.   Yes, Anastasia has nerves of steel (and ironically for someone influenced by literary heroes such as Thomas Hardy - a vocabulary that focuses on the words 'oh crap', 'my inner goddess' and 'oh my').  And yes, Christian has Grey eyes and an un-Christian attitude toward romantic relationships.

There are many reasons this novel has irritated me beyond belief.  After all the hype surrounding it, I felt terribly let down by the writing, the plot (so far) and the characterisation.  Anastasia is a 21 year old on the verge of graduating from college and her supposed naivety comes across as an extreme variant of 'whiny and annoying teenage girl syndrome' (were you as bad as I was back in the day?).  Anything she does that is bold or out of character causes her 'inner goddess' to 'smile broadly'.  She sends mature emails about 'ANGRY CAPS' when Christian sends her emails in block capitals.  Her idea of pushing boundaries involves witty exchanges about the minutiae of the BDSM (see Wiki for the definition, Anastasia did, it says so in the book) contract Christian sent her (rehashing the contract  ends up being a plot device, along with the cringe worthy emails).

You know how I mentioned Miss Steel's favourite phrases?  Well, they recur in at least every third paragraph of the novel.  If I wasn't doing this no alcohol thing, I could have made myself nice and happy playing a drinking game based on the number of times Anastasia thought 'oh crap' to herself (and to us, the readers).

Much has been made of the depiction of explicit sex in 'Fifty Shades of Grey'.  Sometimes, leaving things to the imagination can set that erotic tone better then having rambling descriptions peppered with 'oh baby', 'you're biting your lip' and of course 'oh crap'.  If you're doing drinks tonight, that's one more 'oh crap' for you to have one for.

For a novel to bear the distinction of 'reviving' a particular genre, it needs to be able to at least engage the empathy and respectful interest of its readers.  Leading us to accept what we may have been vehemently opposed to before opening the novel.  Forcing us to leave our prejudices in the real world and to almost become converts to whatever themes or issues the writer is exploring through their prose. Reading 'Fifty Shades of Grey' required too much effort to keep calm and carry on reading and resulted  in too much exasperation from me for this to be possible.

Sometimes, a cartoon says it best and I found this through google today.

It's date night with leftovers and Foxtel's movie channel tonight.  So I'd best be off.  Stay warm and if you feel like it, tell me I'm being harsh about 'Fifty Shades'.


  1. I don't think you're being harsh at all in regards to Fifty Shades of Grey. It's clunky, repetitive, unrealistic but something makes you read it. Not fine literature, but hey, each to their own.

  2. no not harsh , I'm sure you're telling it like it is, havent heard any glowing reports 

  3. If you read it knowing that it started life as "Twilight" fan fiction, then the terrible writing makes perfect sense.  Of course, then you feel ripped off for spending your hard-earned money on a book that you could essentially find on the internet for free.

  4. I think Fifty Shades of Grey is all hype - otherwise how could such twaddle make it to best-seller lists around the world! I have it loaded on my Kindle and am going to give it a go on my holiday, just as some brainless fluff. Am not expecting any more.

    Those mushrooms look delicious - mushrooms are a great price at the moment, saw them for $6/kilo as opposed to the usual $10/kilo. Yum!

  5. I highly doubt Selena Gomez will star in the film, she is still holding onto her good girl image. Seems more like an Amanda Seyfried role...

  6. The mushrooms look amazing. I agree with you wholeheartedly on the 50 shades front. I thought I was missing something, but no, it's just badly written. It's about as erotic as wet newspaper.

    K xx

  7. I found it repetitive, and I want to give Anastasia a good hard slap. Though that would not have the intended effect....
    And another thing.....
    She loses her virginity AND BOOM has a mind-blowing orgasm EVERY TIME she has sex.
    How is that fair?
    How is it even realistic?
    Mushies...yum. I should get some truffle oil to go with it.

  8. I've never thought of having mushrooms on toast, and I love fried mushrooms! Great tip, thanks! Regarding the book I've heard of it, but now I don't think I'll bother to read it;)

  9. Yum, those 

    As for 50 Shades, I haven't bothered with reading it. It actually started out as Twilight fan fiction. I find the irony of a thinly-veiled tome about Mormons inspiring a porn book kind of hilarious...

    There is an amazing blog post from The Aestate about it. If you love a good .gifbomb, which I have a feeling you do, then you have to look at this:http://www.theaestate.com/2012/05/fifty-shades-of-pissed.html

    I may still read it. I mean, there's nothing like a bit of brain candy, is there? That's how I justify having read Twilight in full more than once. it's just...easy. 


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