Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Jacqueline Susann & Fifty Shades of Ripoff

So, I mentioned in a previous post that I was reading Leon Uris' TRINITY. I finished it,and let me tell you, it was awesome. It was one of those epic novels, where I was taken back in time to Ireland in the 1800's and the journey ended in 1916. Uris is a master story teller, who perfectly mixes historical events with creative writing. As I also mentioned in a previous post, I read the sample of his novel EXODUS, and will surely be readin that as well. Where TRINITY was wriiten in a more serious, almost literary style, which works well considering the era it takes place in, it seems like EXODUS has much more contemporary, modern style.

Now, you're probably wondering (maybe not) how this somehow ends up in a post about Jacqueline Susann. Well, like I almost always do after I decide to read a novel, I do some research on the author. One of the interesting things I found while reading about Uris, was that although he sold a ton of novels, he was not taken very seriously as a writer, by the literati / academia.  He was essentially the poster child for the modern day, pop culture, mega-best selling, celebrity author. As I connected the interweb research dots ( links) about Uris, it lead me to Jacqueline Susann , who took this cutural / literary phenomenon to a new level.

I was intrigued enough by what I learned about her, that I read the sample of VALLEY OF THE DOLLS. I liked it and ended up getting it from the library. I really enjoyed it. Sure, it had a soap opera type style to it, and what was considered  outrageous and provocative when it was published in 1966, is certainly very tame nowadays, but it was entertaining, especially getting an inside view of the entertainment industry in the 40's. 50's and 60's.

I have moved on to the LOVE MACHINE, which right out of the gate, gets down and dirty in both details, language, and subject matter. This one I really like and it seems like Susann has decided to push the boundaries in both storyline and wrting style. Where she perhaps pulled back in VALLEY, she goes full-throttle with LOVE MACHINE, and it works well.

Now, here is an observation, not scientific, but I am in tune enough with pop culture to hopefully at least suggest this. A lot of contemporary novel, TV, and movie writers have been greatly influenced, maybe even ripped off Susann's novels. If you have read her novels, you will surely notice that MADMEN has poached many details and style, Brett Easton Ellis surely must have read her novels.

But, the most blatant rip-off I can think of is the author of the FIFTY SHADES OF GREY totally, and liberally re-used many of Susanns ideas, etc....If you had never heard of Jacqueline Sussan or read any of her novels, you would never know this, but it is undeniable.  I find this ironic, because although Sussan was heavily panned for her style ( lack of talent) at least it was groundbreaking and original, and in my opinion, she actually had writing talent. But, who am I to judge, the FIFTY franchise made millions, and I guess the author could be considered the "new" Jacqueline Susann ( minus the writing talent and original ideas), but really, she should give credit where it is due, especially for those who think she came up with it on her own.


  1. I don't doubt she's been ripped off quite a bit. She was huge at a formative time for many current writers, although I actually have never read anything by her. I have valley of the dolls. WAit, maybe I did read that. I'll have to check my records.

    1. Charles- The Love Machine, so far, is better than Valley of the Dolls. Hope all is well!