My two cents on 50 Shades of Grey *Please note mature content in post*

Cover of "Twilight (Two-Disc Special Edit...

Cover of Twilight (Two-Disc Special Edition)

Once upon a time there was an Englishwoman who fell in love with all things Twilight and decided to try her hand at fan fiction.

Her Twilight story, Masters of the Universe, was also an erotic romance. The writer had read 800 to 900 of such books on her commutes to work and wanted to try her hand at something similar with her favorite fictional characters.  And so her fan fiction, about a young whiz kid Super  Executive and his innocent and naïve love interest was a steamy, sexy tale that included B*D*S*M. Yup, kinky sexy as in handcuffing ankles and wrists together and using riding crops and canes and . . . you get the idea. It went places a lot of us have never gone.

This spreader bar is the type of device Christian keeps and uses on Ana in his playroom, which Ana calls "The Red Room of Pain."

Word-of-mouth made the fan fiction very popular online, and EL James—the pseudonym taken by the fanfic writer—eventually changed the names and other aspects of the story, renamed it 50 Shades of Grey, and published it as a trilogy for profit in England.

EL James reading a passage from her 50 Shades trilogy.

Vintage Books, an American publisher, heard the enormous buzz and inked a seven-figure deal with James, who went on to sell the film rights for $5 million and to secure casting and script approval. Not bad for a debut author.

50 Shades have been featured on the front page of Entertainment Weekly, written up in numerous print and online media and creating all sorts of buzz over who will play the roles of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele in the upcoming film.

But—is it any good? Is it worth your while (and your $30 for the three Kindle editions or paperbacks) to read?  What are the strengths of Fifty Shades and what are its weaknesses?

Having read the entire trilogy now and discussed it a bit with dearest Dr. Servetus from Me+Richard Armitage, I am ready to share more of my thoughts and impressions. I won’t do it nearly so eruditely as she, but one can only try.

Popularity, of course, in books, films, television, art and music, does not necessarily equal worthiness or quality. We all know that. How else do you explain the cult of the Kardashians?

Keeping Up with the Kardashians

Keeping Up with the Kardashians (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mediocre writers end up on bestsellers lists. Artists who can’t hit a note without Autotune have gold records. Go figure.

First of all, let’s get the sex out of the way. There is a lot of it, and it is frequently very, very hot, and I enjoyed that. I like to read and write erotic romance and I’ve been told I am pretty good at penning it.

However, I should also point out I am not into Pain + Sex = Pleasure.  What two consenting adults do in the privacy of their own bedroom is their business. I can get into naughty and playful.  A little light bondage, blindfolding and fun with sex toys is one thing; achieving sexual gratification from beating someone else is quite another and I can’t quite get my head around that. There’s consensual rough sex and then there’s–abuse? What do you call it if it’s consensual but obviously harmful?

Those darker, more twisted aspects of Fifty Shades I did find very disturbing.  On a more light-hearted but nonetheless irritating note I quickly tired of the constant referrals to my “inner goddess” and all that she was getting up to anticipation of sexy time. You could build a drinking game around all the appearances of the IG. There is also a tremendous amount of eye rolling taking place by various characters. I keep expecting them to say, “WhatEVER.”

Some who have harshly criticized the trilogy seemed to have been most troubled by the graphic sex. However, from my POV, that sex scenes were actually one of the better-written aspects of the story (minus IG) and the best reason to read it.

Certainly neither the plot nor character development are particularly strong. If you are looking for consistency, logic and psychological insight, hmmmmm—there could be a problem.

Let me introduce you to the hero and heroine of our tale. Christian Grey is a copper-haired, grey-eyed 27-year-old  filthy rich business mogul in Seattle and the middle of three children adopted by the Greys.

He’s handsome, he’s fit, he’s smart, he’s sexy and every female who isn’t a lesbian will start blushing and stammering the moment they are in his presence.  His family thinks he’s gay because he’s never seen in public with a woman or had a girlfriend as far as they know.

James' inspiration for Christian Grey. Finally, a photo of Robert Pattinson in which I actually consider him to be attractive.

In fact, he always has a woman at his beck and call—literally. Christian is a dominant and he makes plain the fact he doesn’t do hearts and flowers,  vanilla sex or “make love”. He “f**ks hard” and he gets off on “beating the s**t out of pretty little brown-haired girls.”

Anastasia Steele is the pretty  little brown-haired girl  with the bright blue eyes whom Christian meets cute at an interview where a nervous, blushing Ana is filling in for her ailing roommate, a journalism major on the staff of the college newspaper.

Ana, a bookish and self-described “scruffy” literature major, has hopes of pursuing a career as an editor with a publishing house.

Christian, on the other hand, has hopes of grooming Ana as his next submissive.  His controlling, sadistic ways are attributed to some early trauma that happened before he was adopted and which he doesn’t want to talk about.   There is  also his “f**ked up” relationship with his mother’s friend that started when he was 15 and “Mrs. Robinson” not only seduced him, she started beating him. Talk about carrying around some emotional baggage.

He’s an angry guy with violent tendencies, a hair-trigger temper of volcanic proportions and a control freak without parallel. And yet he is able to be the calm, cool and collected self-made multi-millionaire who has thousands of employees and can buy corporations at the drop of a hat—all this at an age when some men are still living with their moms.

How does he manage it? The problem is, James never really satisfactorily explains that.  I find it hard to believe this stuck-in-adolescence fellow who sometimes suffers from debilitating panic attacks, who is completely self-loathing and flies into rages over pretty insignificant matters is also able to be such a competent and successful businessman. It just doesn’t compute.

And then we have virginal Anastasia who adores Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre and who is a complete innocent when it comes to sex.

Kristen Stewart, the virginal heroine Bella in Twilight and inspiration for Anastasia in 50 Shades.

Apparently she has only kissed a guy once or twice in her entire life and never experienced “tingles.”. She hasn’t even attempted to self-pleasure.  She’s got more than one good-looking young man who is interested in her romantically, but it is as if her libido is completely in hibernation.

Only super sexy (and kinky) Christian can unleash her passions, it seems.

This isn’t the Victorian era and Anastasia isn’t Margaret Hale. It’s hard to believe she is as naïve as she is written here.

Margaret Hale

Margaret Hale (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nor am I convinced someone so innocent would agree to even consider becoming Christian’s submissive and signing a contract stating in great detail all his expectations of her, right down to how often she eats, how much sleep she gets, personal grooming habits, workout schedules and so forth.  Granted, she never does actually sign it and she makes clear she has some limits—but I think I would have taken one look at all that frankly creepy fine print and headed for the door.

(She also doesn’t own a computer of any kind. I know she isn’t from a privileged background like her stereotypical gorgeous-and- popular roommate-who-makes-her-feel-scruffy, but nearly all college kids have a least a cheap laptop or desktop nowadays, don’t they?)

Sometimes Ana comes across as level-headed and prudent and other times she behaves in a very rash, immature manner. Her anger flares quite often. In fact, the couple seems to be arguing, screaming, sulking, brooding or fuming over something constantly. They use emails to converse and they both flirt and fume there, too.

It’s like kids in middle school who bicker and break up, and then make up, and then bicker . . . it’s exhausting to read it all.  I found myself growing impatient and wanting to say, “Oh, grow up already. Snap out of it!!”

We seem to have two adolescents here with raging hormones and tremendous mood swings. And access to handcuffs and weapons. It’s not really the healthiest of relationships.

They both can be quite charming and tender and flirtatious and they have a lot of hot and mutually satisfying sex, but what they can’t seem to do is to sit down and have a reasonable, rational conversation with one another.

There is plenty of physical intimacy, but very little communication and constant misunderstandings arise . . .  but after some more implausible plot twists (think heavy-duty soap opera), they get their happily (and kinkily) ever after.  Apparently the love of a good woman (who likes it rough) turns Christian’s life around.

There are several unsavory and/or just plain sad supporting characters in the story. And there’s Christian’s shrink whom I am not altogether sure is providing the proper treatment for his very troubled patient.

Christian has some serious issues and maintains some toxic relationships over the course of the three books. For a long while, he claims the woman who manipulated and sexually abused him “saved” him.

I don’t understand Christian. I am not sure the author understands him and therein lies a big problem.

She just keeps throwing new personality traits into the mix along with his ability to fly helicopters and play classical music. Will he be sweet, loving and tender, overly possessive and  demonically controlling or just plain mean and scary? Wait five minutes or a couple of pages and who knows which Christian you will get.

But hey, he sure looks great with his “just-f**ked” hair, those luminous grey eyes darkening with lust, those acid-washed jeans with the top button undone and the way they hang on his hips in such a tantalizing manner . . . I told you the sexy parts were the best thing about the books.

It isn’t great literature but it never aspired to be.

James has said she didn’t have high expectations when she wrote the fan fic or published the novel and “it is what it is.”

And I respect her for being candid about it. One thing she doesn’t appear to be is pretentious.

But I have to agree with Servetus: 50 Shades’ fanfic roots are definitely showing. As the mistress of my fanfic universe I can do anything I want to with the characters and it doesn’t have to be plausible or logical.

But when you move into the realm of mainstream fiction, little things like plausibility and logic and consistency of characterization and a strong story arc are important, at least they are to me.  You also need to be engaged with the characters and care about what happens to them. That didn’t really happen for me. I read all three books in hopes of getting more involved with the characters but to no avail.

I would have liked to have seen a good copy editor tighten up those indulgent references to “inner goddesses” and the much-repeated use of “holy crap” and “holy sh*t” throughout by Ana, who tells the story in the first person.

Not to mention removing all the Britishisms that don’t fit properly in a book about Americans living in an American city ( I haven’t seen the Vintage paperback versions of 50 Shades but I understand it has been tweaked since the Kindle edition).

One thing that I am wondering about is how many 50 Shades wanna-bes are going to be written in hopes of winning the jackpot? And how are they going to adapt  50 Shades for the big screen without it being borderline porn and possibly unintentionally hilarious?  In order to draw in a lot of the Twihards, won’t they need to tone down the sex in order to get a less restrictive rating?

There’s a lot more I could go into, but I am already at over 1,700 words and will save further discussion on the matter for another post.

Here’s my advice: if you were thinking of purchasing it, save your money. I think it would be worth purchasing for, say, $3.99 an installment but not for $9.99.  There are better reads you can get for $30.

As a matter of fact, there are better reads you can get right here in the RA community that include hot and steamy erotic romance  coupled with a good story and engaging characters and not pay a dime.

If you’ve got it and you haven’t read it yet, by all means, do. It’s not terrible. I just want you to go in forewarned. It is what it is.

But that’s just my two cents.  I would love to hear from anyone else who has read it and may have a very different spin on things.

About fedoralady

I'm an LA native--Lower Alabama, that is. My husband of more than 30 years and I live here on a portion of my family's former farm with two gorgeous calicos and a handsome GSD mix. My background is art education, and over the years I've been a teacher, department store photographer, sales associate and a journalist. My husband, his business partner and I have Pecan Ridge Productions, a video production company, for which I shoot & edit video and stills and manage marketing. I also still write part-time for the local paper. I love movies, music, art, photography and books, and my tastes in all of them are eclectic.

30 responses »

  1. Thank you, Angie. After what you’ve written above and what Servetus wrote on your earlier blog about these books, I’m definitely giving them a miss!!!

    I was beginning to think I should attempt reading some of the more “out there” extreme erotic fanfic,instead of being afraid to do so, but now I’m content to leave it alone. There’s erotic fanfic (I don’t mind a bit of the “hot and heavy” kind!!!) and there’s this sort and it doesn’t interest me one little bit.

    • You’re welcome, Kathryngaul. I am trying to “take one for the team: since I did purchase and read all three books. That way, people would know what to expect and whether or not it was something they would be interested in reading. As I said, we really have plenty of good reads (including hot and heavy) 😉 within the fandom.

  2. I got halfway down and thought to myself that I’ve read better fanfic from the RA community, and there, you said it in the third last paragraph! I am definitely saving my $30 for something else. I don’t mind hot and heavy, but I also need the consistency of characterisation and strong story arc that you mention to keep me reading through to the end.

    • I wonder if I was a Twilight fan, if that would change my viewpoint at all, but I don’t think so. Apparently the original fanfic was hugely popular, so obviously a lot of people would not agree with my assessment.

      But there is a—I don’t know, a really adolescent feel not only in the behavior of these supposedly adult characters but in the writing itself. The sex scenes are well written as I said–but she seems to lack the ability to craft her characters and plot outside of those scenes. And this woman is our age, she’s no teenybopper. Perhaps it’s a lack of writing experience. It’s amateurish. That’s the word. Amateurish.

      • Amateurish I can accept if a book’s not costing me anything, as in fanfic or like many of the ebooks out there (although I’ve read some very good freebies) but when I pay for a book I expect more than an amateur work.

        • Eggs-actly, she says on this Easter weekend. 😉 I guess I am just surprised that it made it to this point where it’s this huge bestseller and being made into a film when it is not, in my opinion, a professional-quality piece of writing. What else have these people been reading? Maybe their expectations are lower than mine . . .
          Honestly, if they got a decent scriptwriter in to streamline the plot and to beef up the characters and make them more believable, this is a case where the film could be a lot better than the source material. Of course, all they may be concerned with is profitability, not quality. 😦

  3. Thanks from me as well. I was thinking about buying them. Now I’m glad I waited. They don’t sound too promising.

  4. A certain American authoress became famous for her vampire fiction, then published erotica with strong BD/SM components. They were quite popular, but I couldn’t see it, for the same kind of reasons you describe. I can’t see spending any money for something that just isn’t worth it. Quite a few writers who post on DF, for example, write really well and do the erotic aspects justice, too. Why pay for dreck when you can get the good stuff for free (as long as you don’t get snarky)?

    • I think that if there was no other erotic romance to be had out there, if this was all there was available, it might be worth buying. But that isn’t the case. We’ve got access to all the stuff at DF and yes, much of it is better written than what James is offering in terms of a story. Heck, I can write my own hot stuff. 😉

    • I’ve read those books (I like them better than her vampire fic, actually) and I don’t think this material is in the same category as the author you’re talking about. Those books were written very much as a fantasy, explicitly taking place in a fairy tale universe, and the sex in them is what I’d call “unrealistic,” i.e., the sexual acts are things that people might fantasize about but couldn’t do in real life, or at least not in the way that they are portrayed in those works. The pain in the books is very explicitly not real. It’s porn, but it’s fantasy porn. 50 Shades is in a different category. It’s portraying itself as realistic.

      • I have never read any of her stuff, so I can’t really comment. I do know that while James has described FSOG as “fantasy,” she contradicts herself in the way it is written.

      • Hey, I think I know the book you’re talking about … and I’d have hoped that her vampire fic was much better since that was where she’d made a name for herself? The book (or is it books, I’m not sure?), is one of the few I’ve read where I actually wondered how I would be able to retrieve those hours of my life back – so disatisfied was I with the fairy-tale alternate world she’d created.

        I have read some really excellent material at DF, certainly better than the book we’re referring to.

        One other question, has anyone seen the movie Secretary? It starred James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhal? The plot seems to have shades of this – although it does not appear to be as tightly woven as Secretary… which is oddly, yet twistedly believable.

        Thanks for the review! I had heard of this book, but it didn’t make me particularly hopeful for the future of film, to be honest. Wow, and the book takes place in Seattle?? I take it this was to tread on ground set by Twilight? Seattle must seem so exotic! I wonder if the book even correcty captures the mood of this place. 😉

        • UKexpat,

          I haven’t seen Secretary, but I am familiar with its premise and I admit it did pop into my mind as I was reading these books. I suspect that film was much more grounded in reality than 50 Shades. Let me say I now know a lot more about B*D*S*M than I ever have–not that I am sure I wanted to know some of it. 😉
          I just cannot get my head around the really dark, dark elements of Grey and Ana’s sexual relationship–I have a condition that causes chronic pain and it’s hard for me to see myself submitting to the pain he was sometimes inflicting on her (or inflicting such pain on someone I cared for–or on anyone, frankly).

          But as I have said, the graphic sex (other than those particular passages) was never my problem, as I like a good steamy scene–it was the totally all-over-the-place behavior of Grey (and to a lesser extent, Anastasia). I could not believe such an angry, volatile, damaged control freak who only desires to “f**ks hard” and “beat the living s**t” out of women rather than make love could also become such a successful captain of industry and great philanthropist and at such a young age. And he is also the sweet, tender, teasing, romantic, boyish Christian Grey we sometimes glimpse? The two of them could argue over th4e most trivial things. Given how much they fought, I am surprised someone didn’t end up dead.

          I haven’t read the vampire fic or erotica by that bestselling author, so I really can’t comment. But I do understand your feeling about wishing you could get your life back. 😉

          I am still wondering how they are going to be able to film the 50 shades films with all the graphic and kinky sex.
          These books started out as Twilight fanfiction, so that’s the reason she set the story in Seattle. However, the author is British, I am not sure she has ever been to Seattle, and (at least in the Kindle edition–the print edition has been edited but I haven’t seen it) there are a number of Britishisms she uses–phrases and some spellings. Whilst that sort of thing is acceptable for fanfiction, I really don’t think you should publish it as a mainstream novel without lots of tweaking if you want to be taken seriously. That being said–she’s now rich, so obviously she is doing something right for a lot of readers! LOL Still, it makes me wonder about the tastes of readers and the future state of films.

  5. Thanks for the review Angie, I’ll definitely not purchase these books, just not my cup of tea. I’m currently waiting for North and South, The Hobbit and Sunne in Splendour to be delivered from Amazon and those 3 books together cost me less than 30 USD including postage! 🙂 And btw, I think you find that picture of RPatz attractive because he doesn’t really look like himself on it at all! I think it’s been heavily touched up, that photo!

  6. I take you to be saying that much more or at least equally disturbing than / as the sex scenes (some of which are hot, I would agree) is the emotional drama, and there I emphatically share your view. This was part of what I was getting into when I mentioned that reading these things as social commentary is frightening. I mean, I was bugged by Twilight because Bella was such an anti-ideal of any behavior I’d want a daughter or student of mine to espouse — hanging around, depressed and unloved, because a high-minded vampire won’t bite her? I feel like it’s the kind of emotional model you desire when you’re about fourteen. Once you’ve been in a relationship with someone who’s so moody that you can’t predict what will happen and what he will want to do to you as a result, you change your tune. And once you’ve been in a long-term relationship, you realize that that sort of partner is either unworkable or takes so much work that there’s no space in life for anything else. I feel like it’s a desire for things to be all-consuming that most adults simply can’t sustain. On that level, the emotional fantasy of the work is much more frightening than the sexual fantasy — which is “only” about physical abuse.

    • Yes!! I felt as if this was written from an adolescent point of view–an unformed, immature voice. Fan fiction written by a teenager.

      Too much of Christian’s behavior alarmed me–not just the violent abusive acts that turned him on, but the stalkerish behavior, the total need to control and possess, the ridiculous outbursts of anger–a young girl might find all that “romantic” but for me, it was disturbing and a clear sign this man was very, very troubled. Not a good candidate for a healthy long-term relationship. Kinky f**kery will only get you so far. And money does not buy happiness.

      I was browsing on Amazon last night and on the discussion boards there was an entry on FSOG titled “Nasty” . . . I didn’t read it all, I just saw that one person said she had read the trilogy four times and she doesn’t usually re-read books. And I said to myself, “Why?? What are you going back for? The sex scenes or the fantasy “happily ever after” scenario . . .” It sort of mystifies me. And concerns me. That’s why I just honestly can’t recommend it.

      But you know what? I am glad I read it, my curiosity has been sated, and it’s spurred me on in my own writing, because I KNOW I can do better work than this, as can many other fanfic writers I have encountered.

  7. Hi Angie. I’ve posted about my problems with this series (basically the BDSM and sumbission and the problems i have with those themes) but I havent read the books because I disagree with the messages they send.

    I’d be interested to find out if Ana and Christian do achieve equality in their relationship, as Bella and Edward did in Twilight, or if it continus down this sub/dom route. I realise you dont want to spoil people who might want to read the trilogy, but if you wouldnt mind expanding on the eventual state of the relationship, could you email me?



    • Cat,

      I would be happy to do so. I will send you a more detailed response later tonight. I have been thinking quite a lot about these books from several angles–the dynamics of Ana and Christian’s relationship, the whole theme of BDSM and my personal comfort levels, whether or not this is legitimate fiction or simply gussied-up fanfic, why people have responded so overwhelmingly to these books–my posts on it have certainly drawn a lot of readers.

      • Received and replied, thank you. You have alerted me to an even more troubling aspect of this story, if thats possible!

        Your email was very informative and you might want to consider posting it on your blog. You could hide the spoilers behind a cut or put them in white so the reader has to highlight to read.

        • There is a lot to take in about the story, that is for certain. I may very well do as you suggest, Cat. There is so much interest in the subject and I do have, as you do, some valid concerns about this as a piece of mainstream fiction that could influence a lot of impressionable young people.

  8. I read 50 Shades in its Master of the Universe form. I agree- parts of the sex were hot but the overall plotline was unrealistic. I’m curious, what would you suggest for those who are looking for something better to read online?

  9. Pingback: 50 Shades of Grey *SPOILERS* Why I can’t recommend it. « the armitage effect

  10. Thanks for the review! I was thinking “nu-uh!” after just hearing that it’s a Twilight fanfic with little more than the names changed. The whole BDSM thing doesn’t work for me either, for the same reasons you state near the beginning. I’m trying to read every Jane Eyre spin-off/derivative in publication, and a couple of those include BDSM fic. I’ve read one so far, and when I thought “okay, let’s have a go at the other one” I got to page one and thought “OH NO NOT THIS AGAIN!!!!!!!!” because the first one was sooooo far removed from anything I’d consider a pleasurable read and in fact made me feel sick. I still don’t know if I can stomach the second, although the one I read said in the introduction that the author had read [book I’ve yet to read] and didn’t think it went “far enough”, so maybe it’s a little easier. I doubt it, though. Blindfolds and tying up as a bit of fun, sure, fine, but caning, beating and abusing? That’s just wrong. 😦 If people like it and want to get up to it in their bedrooms, so be it, but having to read about it? Gosh no.

    • Hey, Traxy and welcome/

      Yes, the fact it had Twilight roots made me apprehensive, but I thought I would give it a fair shake–just as I would someone to do for me, right? Well, I read it, I read it all–and I just can’t in all honesty recommend for a number of reasons. There are countless example of better-written stuff out there in the realm of RA fanfiction and, I daresay, in many other fandoms. Better written without faulty psychology and a frankly unbelievable conclusion. This is an unhealthy merger of Fantasy with “reality.”

      Promoting emotional abuse and manipulation as erotic romance is just–wrong. That scene where he beats her so savagely with a belt has haunted me. And from what I understand from talking to people who are within the BDSM community, she has misrepresented what power exchange is all about and given readers the false notion that to participate in this lifestyle you clearly had to have been abused in the past and basically be emotionally f**ked up.

      Now, BDSM is not my cup of tea and never will be, but I respect consenting and mature adults’ decision to do this. And it’s a controversial lifestyle at best in many people’s eyes, a lifestyle choice which she has managed to further blacken.

      It’s a sad excuse for a world-wide best seller, IMHO.

    • Hey, Traxy and welcome/

      Yes, the fact it had Twilight roots made me apprehensive, but I thought I would give it a fair shake–just as I would someone to do for me, right? Well, I read it, I read it all–and I just can’t in all honesty recommend for a number of reasons. There are countless example of better-written stuff out there in the realm of RA fanfiction and, I daresay, in many other fandoms. Better written without faulty psychology and a frankly unbelievable conclusion. This is an unhealthy merger of Fantasy with “reality.”

      Promoting emotional abuse and manipulation as erotic romance is just–wrong. That scene where he beats her so savagely with a belt has haunted me. And from what I understand from talking to people who are within the BDSM community, she has misrepresented what power exchange is all about and given readers the false notion that to participate in this lifestyle you clearly had to have been abused in the past and basically be emotionally f**ked up.

      Now, BDSM is not my cup of tea and never will be, but I respect consenting and mature adults’ decision to do this. And it’s a controversial lifestyle at best in many people’s eyes, a lifestyle choice which she has managed to further blacken.

  11. I totally agree with you. I did read the trilogy, and I HATE the “inner goddess” and “subconscious” crap that Ana always refers to. I drove me nuts. With a little tweaking, this could have been a good story.

    Read Anne Rice. Her stories all filled with sex and the supernatural and the characters are way more developed and interesting.

    • I think the author could have benefited from a good editor who could have provided a lot of that tweaking, not only to correct some of the grammatical errors and use of British spellings and phrasings, but to tighten up the whole thing. WAYYY too much padding of the story with that inner goddess stuff. I heartily wanted to do terrible things in the Red Room of Pain to that blasted inner goddess. Yes, Rice is a much more accomplished writer.

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