Men are fans, too, of 'Fifty Shades of Grey'
This combo made of book cover images provided by Vintage Books shows the "Fifty Shades of Grey" trilogy by best-selling author E L James. They're young and old, doctors and churchgoers, gay and straight _ and those are just the MEN who have devoured oh-so-naughty "Fifty Shades of Grey," a violent, erotic trilogy that has earned millions of women fans in a matter of weeks. (AP Photo/Vintage Books)
NEW YORK (AP) — They're young and old, doctors and churchgoers, gay and straight — and those are just the MEN who have devoured oh-so-naughty "Fifty Shades of Grey," an erotic trilogy that has earned millions of women fans in a matter of weeks.
Reading on iPads and Kindles or hurriedly picking up the books in stores, some didn't know about the romance part, thinking the surprise best-sellers by newcomer E L James would be more "American Psycho" than steamy Harlequin.
Others knew exactly what they were getting into, buying into the buzz since Vintage Books bought the rights, shoring up a story that began as "Twilight" fan fiction and putting it out in handy trade paperback on April 3.
There's flogging and bondage and sex toys. And a steely control freak of a gazillionaire Christian Grey, a damaged sexual "dominant" who enlists the virginal (not for long) college coed Anastasia Steele for rough-but-consensual role play.
Jeremiah Wirth, a grad student and Iraqi war vet in Maine, said the opening book was nothing short of a life-changer. He read it on a business trip to "magical" Hawaii, returning home to Bangor a better man.
"I was away from my girlfriend. I was lonely and I was reading this book in this beautiful place and I thought it would be something fun and easy," said the 26-year-old Kurt Vonnegut and "Star Wars" fan, just a year younger than the fictional Grey.
"People hear about flogging and stuff like that in this book, and they don't get it. I became emotionally invested in the love story, especially from the female's perspective. That was important to me, to put myself in Ana's shoes. It was overwhelming, and I'll never forget it," Wirth said.
He was moved to send James an email, "apologizing for assuming that your book was anything less than it is: wonderful." And she responded, his deep interest surprising even her, "given that you don't fit the demographic of the readership (women 17-100) but I am delighted that you enjoyed it."
The book didn't shatter 66-year-old David Shobin in Smithtown, N.Y. The semi-retired gynecologist and newbie romance reader who writes medical thrillers on the side picked up the first "Fifty Shades" to see for himself "what all the hullabaloo was about."
He liked it well enough and received hundreds of responses to a funny review he wrote on Amazon.
"At my age, my arthritis flared up just reading about Ana's sexual gymnastics," Shobin wrote, adding that her "pyrotechnic climaxes resembled repetitively watching porn: after a while, it leaves me bored and yawning."