In our most recent episode where we review the negotiation conversation between Ana and Christian for its massive safety violations, Joreth mentioned buying a hardcover copy of the book and reading it with a red ink pen at hand. She wasn’t kidding! We even used a picture of one of her pages of notes for the episode transcript page.
We thought we’d share more of her notes here. It was kind of hard to narrow down which pages we should take pictures of, because the first half of the book was pretty much full margins on every page. But after a while, the notes got really repetitive because James makes the same mistakes repeatedly throughout the book. It’s just 514 pages of the same. old. shit.
Here, in the early pages of the book, there is so much red! Joreth chose this smooth gel pen that practically dripped red ink like blood – blood drawn from her soul, carved out by the harsh, jarring punctuation and jagged prose; blood sprayed from the pulsing wounds in her dying heart as she forced herself to read ever onward through the slogging grammar and banal scenery descriptions. There was so much red ink that it bled through the pages.
The red flashes like blood jewels against the snowy white backdrop and harsh black text. The clichés! The tropes! How they burn as red hot as the ink that slashes across the page! We begin to see the early signs that the author does not know how human bodies work. Is she a robot? A space alien? A lump of coal imbued with sapience? No, not sapience, which is the ability to think. Sentience, then? No, there is very little evidence of the ability to feel either. Awareness? Certainly not self awareness! Consciousness? Maybe just autonomy? She clearly does not respect autonomy.
It’s like reading early AI literature – yes, those are words, and mostly in the correct syntactic order, but with no organic understanding of contextual language, everything just seems … off. Especially with basic punctuation mistakes and what seems to be a total lack of familiarity with how people, well, people.
Eventually, though, it became wearisome to circle yet another contradiction or underline yet another childish expletive or to write, again, that bodies don’t work like that or people don’t behave that way or that is absolutely not something that kinky people do. Joreth got so tired of repeating the same criticisms in the margins that all she could do was just start rolling her eyes. Which she did. In red ink. Frequently.
Another thing that got tiresome was explaining in the margins why nearly every page was a textbook example of abuse. Where it wasn’t just ridiculous language or grammar that provoked headache-inducing eye-rolling, it was page after page after page of underlining blatant examples of abusive and literal controlling behaviour and just labeling it with the word “abuse”.
There are only so many different ways and so many times one can explain why inspiring fear in one’s romantic partner in order to manipulate their behaviour is listed on the Wheel of Abuse used by domestic violence agencies, before one just gives up and starts simply flagging the text with red marks under the weight of sheer overwhelming repetitive examples.
This book sucked all the joy and creativity that we three co-hosts typically find in sex and kink. The scenes in the book were as dry and as colorless as the pages themselves, before Joreth’s red pen flooded them with the color of Ana’s chronic embarrassment. Hopefully this little photo series brought you more pleasure than reading the book did for us.