There are now over 1,300 holds for Fifty Shades of Grey in the New York Public Library system, and while it may be down from its 1,800+ hold count in May, Fifty Shades fever is still hot. It's so hot that publisher Plume is re-releasing Anne Rice's classic hardcore fantasy erotica trilogy based around the tale of Sleeping Beauty with new covers and the line, "If You Loved 50 Shades Of Grey, You'll Love The Sleeping Beauty Trilogy."
Rice's books, The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, Beauty’s Punishmentand Beauty’s Release, which she wrote under the pseudonym A.N. Roquelaure, come highly recommended by connoisseurs of erotica who scoff at the BDSM-lite depiction and terrible writing in the "50 Shades" trilogy. Of course, it's unclear whether the "mommy porn" readers will take to the Sleeping Beauty trilogy (here's the Wikipedia plot description) which, while fantasy, is also very intense (and non-consensual, because there's a slave theme) instances of domination and submission—check out the reviews on GoodReads.
Rice has updated the trilogy with a new preface; here's an excerpt:
It has to be remembered that within the frame of a sadomasochistic fantasy like the Beauty trilogy, the readers are invited to identify with and enjoy the predicament of the slaves. The books aren’t about literal cruelty; they’re about surrender, the fun of imagining you have no choice but to enjoy sex. Beauty’s slavery is delicious, sensuous, abandoned, and ultimately liberating. This is all part of the framework. And it seemed to work exquisitely with the old fairy tale. And of course the fairy tale removes us from everyday life; it removes us from the intrusion of garish headlines, literal violence, and all the ugliness of crime. We go into a gilded dream here, luscious and engulfing, in which we’re free to imagine all sorts of things—a fairy-tale world indeed...
...[W]omen today are more powerful than ever. They’re Supreme Court judges, senators, doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, executives, soldiers, cops. They can excel in all walks of life. And why shouldn’t they be able to go home from the courtroom, the university, or the office and kick back and “pretend” they’re being swept away to the Queen’s sadomasochistic kingdom where all the fairy-tale court will watch them being ravaged by the handsome Prince?
The literary world today is wide open for all kinds of creative endeavors. We are in a new golden age in which fantasy, science fiction, speculative fiction, historical drama, horror, gothic, and supernatural romance are all mainstream. Well, the same holds true now obviously for erotica. People in general are “out of the closet” as enjoyers of erotic books. The novel 50 Shades of Grey has proved this. And I am discovering that the Beauty books in spite of all their playful excess—are for the first time going mainstream.
On the upside: People are reading!