‘Grey’ goes in­side Chris­tian’s pre­dictable mind

The China Post - - FEATURE - BY LEANNA ITALIE

What’s the first thing that comes to Chris­tian Grey’s mind upon meet­ing fu­ture paramour Anas­ta­sia Steele?

How her pale, flaw­less skin might look “pink and warmed from the bite of a cane,” of course. And that’s only page five of the fan- an­tic­i­pated “Grey,” out Thurs­day from EL James and her grate­ful im­print, Vintage Books.

Start­ing with a night­mare flash­ing back to Grey’s rough child­hood, James soon gets down to BDSM busi­ness as she plows through the fa­mil­iar story laid out in her first book, “Fifty Shades of Grey,” only this time she tells it from the hunky bil­lion­aire’s per­spec­tive rather than that of the young and in­no­cent Ana.

Flip just a cou­ple more pages and Chris­tian con­sid­ers cor­rect­ing Ana’s now- fa­mous clum­si­ness with the aid of a rid­ing crop af­ter she stum­bles into his Seat­tle of­fice to in­ter­view him for her col­lege news­pa­per. Then he lusts af­ter her invit­ing mouth af­ter she does one of those things she’s also known for: bit­ing her lower lip in a way that drives him lustily nuts — nuts to pun­ish her, that is.

‘Grey’ with the New Book

The new book was re­quested by fans, James said when she an­nounced June 1 that “Grey” not only ex­isted but would be out soon af­ter — the book is be­ing re­leased world­wide at mid­night lo­cal time on Thurs­day, timed to co­in­cide with Grey’s birth­day. And she had men­tioned in ap­pear­ances as long ago as 2012 that she wanted to ex­plore what turned into a mas­sively pop­u­lar erotic tril­ogy from Grey’s point of view.

James teased read­ers with a chap­ter fea­tur­ing Grey’s nar­ra­tion at the end of her third book, “Fifty Shades Freed,” and she had writ­ten through his eyes in 2010, as part of her episodic “Twi­light” fan fic­tion when Grey was still Ed­ward Cullen and James was still known as Snowqueens Ice­dragon.

The new book is bereft of any true sur­prises, like so many other add- ons, but that won’t mat­ter much too hard­core fans of this hard- core ro­mance fran­chise.

In 2011, the tril­ogy’s first vol­ume set off a frenzy that had literati laugh­ing at the for­mer TV pro­ducer’s writ­ing skills but read­ers buy­ing and shar­ing copies like crazy. In all, the three books sold more than 125 mil­lion copies around the world and spawned the first movie star­ring Jamie Dor­nan and Dakota John­son, with at least two more planned.

Af­ter the movies, do we re­ally need Grey’s lit­tle in­te­rior asides, “Maybe this could work,” for ex­am­ple? Is there any­thing we don’t know about him al­ready?

He frets as he nav­i­gates his para­noid jeal­ousy that other, younger boys in Ana’s life might want her, too. He frets that she wants vanilla sex, rather than the kind in­volv­ing im­ple­ments in the play­room of his man­sion. And he frets as he — the needy, dam­aged sex dom­i­nant — re­al­izes it’s been too long be­tween sub­mis­sives.

Grey’s self- loathing comes alive in pre­dictable ex­ple­tives — and pre­dictable cliches as re­al­izes his pull to Ana is “like a moth to a flame.”

Mean­while, in the Fifty fandom, “Grey” is the No. 1 pre- or­der of the year so far for Ama­zon’s Kin­dle, though Harper Lee’s “Go Set a Watch­man” is tops for pre- or­ders on pa­per. And ac­cord­ing to re­ports Down Un­der, fren­zied fans in New Zealand were the first to get their hands on the book.

James’ sched­uled where­abouts when the book lands Thurs­day is a stop to sign copies in New York at a Barnes & Noble store.

Back on the Bri­tish writer’s fresh­est pages, our new nar­ra­tor mar­vels at Ana’s, er, oral skills af­ter he re­lieves her of her vir­gin­ity through tra­di­tional sex that he, too, has never ex­pe­ri­enced. But, as fans al­ready know, he’s not a hearts and flow­ers kind of guy and con­tin­ues to lean on Ana to take his lifestyle for a spin.

Grey doesn’t have an in­ner god to match Ana’s ever- present in­ner god­dess, but he does have some un­spo­ken thoughts to match the vo­lu­mi­nous email the two pass be­tween them as they do in the orig­i­nal book.

He hap­pily de­clares to him­self, “Deal done, Grey!” when his fresh col­lege grad­u­ate warms up to some BDSM and sex- toy shenani­gans as her first taste of his world, for in­stance.

James, in media notes ac­com­pa­ny­ing the book, said of her fans that she thinks “Chris­tian might have some sur­prises in store for them.” Re­ally? To the very last drop of her re­told story, Chris­tian is just as he needs to be, at once gen­tle and rough, in need of con­trol but com­pli­ant. And — SPOILER ALERT — ready to win his Ana back, leav­ing his cre­ator free to write him another book or two.

AP

This file im­age pro­vided by Vintage Books shows the cover of the new book, “Grey,” the fourth novel in E L James’ mul­ti­mil­lion-selling “Fifty Shades of Grey” erotic se­ries. The book is re­leas­ing on Thurs­day, June 18.

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