Saturday, November 21, 2009

Another Year of Bad Sex

Maybe Neil Gaiman got it succinctly right on Twitter a few hours ago :
Just read the Guardian Bad Sex Award contenders ... I may never write a sex scene ever again. O Roth. O Banville. Argh.
Yes, it's that time of year again when literary lust becomes fodder for fun. The Guardian has extracts from all the 2009 nominees for The Literary Review's annual Bad Sex Award which you can read at your peril. But those of you of a somewhat tenderer disposition may want to ignore the link.

(I started down the list earlier but had had a surfeit of fictional bonking before I made it through all the contenders, so will resume later in the interest of - ahem - research. )

My question to you is, do you really think these are examples of bad writing about sex? The Roth extract, green dildo aside (!) i though pretty intriguing and I'm off to buy the book. I didn't snigger pruriently at Banville's :
... tang of fish-slime and sawdust ... .
Theroux's : '
Yoni puja – pray, pray at my portal.
is a rather sweet line I can hear being taken up as a reprise by his female readers and Richard Milward's, yes, IS funny - but that is his intention surely?

The usual refrain on posts of this nature on my blog - sex is very difficult to write well anyway.

Postscript :

And that is the point made very well in Sarah Duncan's response on The Guardian blog :
Writing about sex can be like a complicated game of Twister. You sit in front of your laptop, trying to work out where everything's going. It's worse than following the instructions for assembling flatpack furniture.


Oxymoron said...

This is precisely what I meant when I say books should come with warnings! Hehehe! Which is why I buy mostly second-hand books. It's not so painful.

Argus Lou said...

Probably it's easier to find 'bad' sex scenes than 'good' ones in novels. Maybe it's our attitude (influenced by society) towards sex. Maybe we're still a bit shy or queasy.

By the way, John Updike wrote quite a straight forward yet interesting enough sex scene in the last story of 'Women Who Got Away'.

The funniest one I ever read is in Chuck Palahniuk's 'Choke'. It really had me guffawing. :D

Anonymous said...

Writing sex scenes is a fun challenge, but certainly a challenge. The urge to use the words "throbbing," "heaving," and "member" just for fun is overwhelmingly tempting.