Monday, 26 November 2012

Bad Sex in Literature

In 1993, the British magazine Literary Review started handing out an award out of the ordinary. Nowadays, with the horrors of Fifty Shades of Grey stalking the literary landscape, it seems particularly relevant. Yes, it is the

Bad Sex in Fiction Award

Awarded to the author who produces the worst description of a sex scene in a novel, the award aims to to "draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel, and to discourage it". Here is a short film showing the nomination process:

Seems tailor made for Fifty Shades of Grey, does it not? The only problem is that pornographic or erotic fiction is excluded, and rightly so, since part of the impact of the sex scenes are their situation in mainstream literature. The internet has reeled at the exclusion of J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy from the shortlist, but Jonathan Beckman, literary editor of the Literary Review explains in an interview with The Guardian that it simply was not bad enough, despite being filled with rape, casual sex and pedophilia. That says something of previous awardees. 

Previous winners have bestowed phrases like "Like a lepidopterist mounting a tough-skinned insect with a too blunt pin he screwed himself into her" (Rowan Somerwille: The Shape of Her) and "Moan moan moan moan moan went Hoyt as he slithered slithered slithered slithered and caress caress caress caress went the fingers" (Tom Wolfe: I am Charlotte Simmons) upon the world. More bad sex in fiction can be found here.

This year's award ceremony is on Tuesday 4th of December, and so it is up to you, dear reader, to decide whether any of the nominees are worthy heirs to these devastatingly squalid contribution to the canon:

Rare Earth by Paul Mason: “She breathed hot into his neck and he plunged three rough fingers down the front of her jeans, making her squeak. She had never tried wu-wei in this situation before and Khünbish, hairy and slightly paunchy, she noticed now that he had his shirt off, was generating slightly more karmic energy than she had anticipated.”

Noughties by Ben Masters: “We got up from the chair and she led me to her elfin grot, getting amongst the pillows and cool sheets. We trawled each other’s bodies for every inch of history. I dug after what I had always imagined and came up with even more. She stroked my outlines in perfect synchrony until I was febrile in her hands, willingly guided elsewhere.”

Infrared by Nancy Huston: “He runs his tongue and lips over my breasts, the back of my neck, my toes, my stomach, the countless treasures between my legs, oh the sheer ecstasy of lips and tongues on genitals, either simultaneously or in alternation, never will I tire of that silvery fluidity, my sex swimming in joy like a fish in water…”

The Adventuress: The Irresistible Rise of Miss Cath Fox by Nicholas Coleridge: “In seconds the duke had lowered his trousers and boxers and positioned himself across a leather steamer trunk, emblazoned with the royal arms of Hohenzollern Castle. ‘Give me no quarter,’ he commanded. ‘Lay it on with all your might.’”

Back to Blood by Tom Wolfe: “Now his big generative jockey was inside her pelvic saddle, riding, riding, riding, and she was eagerly swallowing it swallowing it swallowing it with the saddle’s own lips and maw — all this without a word.”

The Yips by Nicola Barker: “She smells of almonds, like a plump Bakewell pudding; and he is the spoon, the whipped cream, the helpless dollop of warm custard. She steams. He applauds, his tongue hanging out (like a bloodhound espying a raw chop in a cartoon).”

The Divine Comedy by Craig Raine: “And he came. Like a wubbering springboard. His ejaculate jumped the length of her arm. Eight diminishing gouts. The first too high for her to lick. Right on the shoulder.”

The Quiddity of Wilf Self by Sam Mills: “Down, down, on to the eschatological bed. Pages chafed me; my blood wept onto them. My cheek nestled against the scratch of paper. My cock was barely a ghost, but I did not suffer panic.”

What do you think? 

Which contribution do you think will receive this year's Bad Sex in Literature Award? Are there other candidates whom you think should have been included? If so, why? Feel free to include representative excerpts and do not forget to keep an attentive eye at the Literary Review webpage next Tuesday!

Comments on The Tale of Sir Bob are always welcome!

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