Friday, November 23, 2007

If it's November, it's Time for Bad Sex

Hurray! I thought: the announcement of the longlist for my favourite literary book prize of the year: the Literary Review's Bad Sex Awards.

McEwan's in with a chance of bagging this one, Michelle Pauli reports in the Guardian:
He is joined on the longlist of what the organisers call Britain's "most dreaded literary prize" by Jeanette Winterson with a passage about robotic sex from The Stone Gods; Ali Smith for Girl Meets Boy, and Gary Shteyngart with an athletic description of his crass hero from Absurdistan bedding one of his many conquests ("Her vagina was all that, as they say in the urban media - a powerful ethnic muscle scented by bitter melon, the breezes of the local sea, and the sweaty needs of a tiny nation trying to breed itself into a future"). ... The late Norman Mailer makes a posthumous appearance with a passage from The Castle in the Forest in which the male protagonist's "Hound" is described as "soft as a coil of excrement". More poetic bawdiness is on offer from Christopher Rush's life of Shakespeare, told in the Bard's "own words", and his maritime-themed description of coitus with Anne Hathaway, in which "I clung like a mariner to her heaving haunches, the deep keel of her backbone dipping and lifting through July, through the green surge of growth ... Our vessel ran shuddering onto the rocks, a wave of wetness ran through us, the air was rent with screams and I became aware that the bank on which we lay drenched and grounded was journey's end, love's end, the very sea-mark of our utmost sail."
Does McEwan deserve an award meant to:
... draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel, and to discourage it...?
I'm actually feeling quite outraged that anyone should have a snigger at McEwan's expense and can only think it's a reflection of the enduring British embarrassment about things sexual.The whole point of On Chesil Beach is that he is deliberately setting out to write about sex so disastrous that it has life-time consequences. And I feel he does it very well indeed.

I can't speak about the other nominees, not having read them ... but I think that quote from Absurdistan (above) rather lovely. I don't find myself laughing at Christopher Rush's maritime imagery either. What do you think?

My favourite award and this year a sense of bewilderment ...


Argus Lou said...

C. Rush's rocks-and-waves description gripped me by the eyelashes, I must say. ^_^

Anonymous said...

Well where sex is concerned, it sometimes DOES have lifetime consequences :)