Last week, the winner of the most important accolade in the literary world was announced. I am, of course, talking about the Literary Review's Bad Sex in Fiction Award.
Forget the National Book Award. Back off, Pulitzer. Man Booker who? An Oprah’s Book Club Sticker has more influence than all those combined. The real prestige comes with winning a Bad Sex in Fiction award. It means your work was good enough that those other prizes could ignore your terrible sex writing (can we retire the word “womb” in a sexual context, please?).
Jonathan Beckman has hilariously collected and assessed all of the year’s worst descriptions of sex in fiction for the UK publication Literary Review. A lot of the general trends of bad sex writing appear here, particularly the constant comparison of sexual pleasure to rushing water. Also present is some requisite infantilizing of female characters. Here are, in no particular order, some of the most clichéd, oddly forward or downright boring passages, each guaranteed to have you laughing before sheepishly getting back to work.
- (The winner of this year's award) The Age of Magic by Ben Okri
“She felt certain now that there was a heaven and that it was here, in her body. The universe was in her and with each movement it unfolded to her ... In an ecstasy greater than his anguish, he raced towards her, and disappeared into her universe, and afterwards into a long dreamless slumber.”
- Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
“Kuro's breasts were full and soft. Shiro's were small, but her nipples were as hard as tiny round pebbles. Their pubic hair was as wet as a rain forest. Their breath mingled with his, becoming one, like currents from far away, secretly overlapping at the dark bottom of the sea.”
- Things to Make and Break by May-Lan Tan
“God. It's like sticking your cock into the sun. I fuck her deep and slow, watching her mouth and feeling her move. When I get too close, I pull out and let my dick cool.”
- The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle by Kirsty Wark
“I had never imagined that I was capable of wanton behaviour, but it was as if a dam within me had burst and we made love that day and night like two people starved, slowly suffused with more and more pleasure, exploring and devouring every inch of each other, so as not to miss one single possibility of passion. It was as if I were drinking in life itself.”
- Desert God by Wilbur Smith
“the brief conjoining of the flesh that ends too soon in a puny muscular spasm, sparse reward for the man who renders up his seed, or for the woman who accepts it into her womb.” BONUS: “Her body was hairless. Her pudenda were also entirely devoid of hair.”
I think now is an appropriate time to remind you that “One-Handed Reads” always appear in the back of your BUST print edition, and they would never be nominated for this award ;)
Read more hilarious gems at the Literary Review's Twitter page, under #BadSex.
Images courtesy of Literary Review and Goodreads.