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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Bad Sex Nominees Announced

Posted by on Tue, Nov 20, 2012 at 5:04 PM

It's that time of year again: The Bad Sex in Fiction shortlist has been announced.

The full shortlist is: The Yips by Nicola Barker, The Adventuress by Nicholas Coleridge, Infrared by Nancy Huston, Rare Earth by Paul Mason, Noughties by Ben Masters, The Quiddity of Will Self by Sam Mills, The Divine Comedy by Craig Raine and Back to Blood by Tom Wolfe.

Bonfire of the Vanities author Wolfe won the prize in 2004 for I Am Charlotte Simmons.

An excerpt from Wolfe's nominated Back to Blood reads: "Magdalena woke up in a hypnopompic state. Something was stroking her. It caused no alarm, however, just a semiconscious bewilderment amidst her struggle to turn her lights on."

Barker's Man Booker-longlisted novel The Yips contains the passage: "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)."

I pointed this out last year, but I'm not a huge fan of the Bad Sex in Fiction award. I've spoken to big-name writers who fear writing sex scenes because they don't want to win this award. Compared to novels of the 70's, modern literary fiction is a relatively sexless affair, and I think that's a shame. I'd much prefer it if the Literary Review ran a prize for best sex scene concurrently with the Bad Sex award. The award as it is now just amounts to a kid tittering in the back of sex ed class, whereas a Good Sex award could encourage writers to be bold and experimental in their sex scenes.


Comments (11) RSS

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Matt the Engineer 1
It's hard to imagine The Yips author not directly aiming to win this award with that passage.
Posted by Matt the Engineer on November 20, 2012 at 5:24 PM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 2
50 Shades of Whatever didn't make it?
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on November 20, 2012 at 6:13 PM · Report this
Hyzenthlayk9 3
Paul brings up a good point, an award highlighting writing of Good Sex scenes could at least give other writers an example of what to aim for - rather than being concerned that every sex scene in any work might result in a public shaming.

Though it can be argued that some of those Bad Sex scenes were deserving of the dishonor.
Posted by Hyzenthlayk9 on November 20, 2012 at 6:15 PM · Report this
Canadian Nurse 4
I agree, in general, but I'm also sad that the new JK Rowling book didn't make the cut.
Posted by Canadian Nurse on November 20, 2012 at 8:02 PM · Report this
Sandiai 5
@1. It's the "espying" that will win it for her.
Posted by Sandiai on November 20, 2012 at 9:10 PM · Report this
Fnarf 6
Good sex writing is usually worse than bad sex writing. Generally speaking the only good writing about sex at all is about bad sex, which is by far the most interesting kind of sex (cf. Tolstoy's happy families are all alike).
Posted by Fnarf on November 20, 2012 at 10:16 PM · Report this
Jubilation T. Cornball 7
But what about those of us who, generally Episcopal, eschew "bold and experimental" sex? I'm 100% with you on the macro level, but would keep the requirements for best sex scene to a simple: "describes sex." I'd take a brilliantly written lazy morning fuck over a puerile chandelier swing any day.
Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball on November 20, 2012 at 10:17 PM · Report this
Welcome back JTC. Don't be a stranger.
Posted by crone on November 21, 2012 at 12:00 AM · Report this
Post_Mortem 9
Paul, doesn't that seem like something you could do?
Posted by Post_Mortem on November 21, 2012 at 4:07 AM · Report this
Anne in MA 10
@6 - Fnarf, did you just use a cf cite? Because that kind of made my day.
Posted by Anne in MA on November 21, 2012 at 7:21 AM · Report this
The Accidental Theologist 11
Paul, ditto @9 -- The Stranger Good Sex Award!
Posted by The Accidental Theologist on November 21, 2012 at 9:45 AM · Report this

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