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The Bad Sex in Fiction Awards

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The Bad Sex in Fiction Awards

I don't read novels, but if the sex is as bad as it is in Hollywood films then I despair!! :)

Do you read novels? Is the sex as bad as this article says it is?

The Bad Sex in Fiction Awards include some of writing's biggest names. So, do authors find it difficult to write about sex?

Cheesy clipart pic of lovers
Over the years, some of literature's most glittering names have competed for one of its least coveted prizes.

Ian McEwan, Salman Rushdie, John Updike and Philip Roth are titans among novelists, generally acclaimed for their representations of every kind of human experience - except one.

When writing about sex, says the Literary Review magazine, their standards slip.

All of these illustrious names have at some point been shortlisted for the Bad Sex in Fiction Awards, which were set up by the magazine's editor Auberon Waugh in 1993, to try to "draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel".

This year's offending passages do not immediately scream "guilty" on these three counts.

Among the nominees is ....

"It was as if she were wearing a mask on her genitals, a weird totem mask, that made her into what she was not and was not supposed to be "

Paul Theroux...
"Her hands were all over me, four hands it seemed, or more than four, and as she touched she made me weightless, lifting me off the table in a prolonged ritual of levitation"

Booker Prize winner John Banville...
"She puts her hands flat against his chest and leans into him in a simulacrum of a swoon, making a mewling sound"

musician Nick Cave...
"Bunny lies on his back on the sofa. He is naked and his clothes sit in sad, little heaps on the living room floor"

Do even the best writers lose their touch when it comes to the most intimate of scenes?

Booker Prize judge Lucasta Miller says sex has been at the centre of most of Western literature for centuries but too much of it nowadays reads like a "biology textbook".

"A trap people fall into is an earnest anatomical description of sex. The difficulty with the anatomical is that it can read like a bit of a textbook.

"To stop it doing so, they will put in flowery metaphors from the animal kingdom, but you don't need that detail.

"When people use similes and metaphors in their anatomical depictions of the sexual organs, it's toe-curling and embarrassing."

You can write about sex in that way comically, she says, as JM Coetzee does very successfully in Summertime.

Instead, she says, authors should relate the emotion of sex, to stir the imagination of readers.

"What do you read novels for? Because you are interested in the characters and their emotional state. That's the difference between porn and art."

Sex is a subject best avoided altogether, says Melissa Katsoulis, a literary reviewer for the Times.

"If I was writing a novel, I wouldn't attempt to write it except in the most Victorian and prim way, because it's awful.

"It's a cliche, but the moments of genuine frisson in books are when hardly anything happens.

"When you have a dream about someone you fancy, it's because they sat down next to you on the bus or something, not because you were at it, hammer and tongs.

"Either be suggestive or funny, but trying to do the nuts and bolts isn't going to work."

Readers' fault

But one author says the problem is not with the writer, but with the reader.

"People will always assume that I've had the sex I've written about, but not the murder I've written about or the flight across the sky in the magical realist novel I've written," says crime novelist Stella Duffy.

"At that point, the critic sitting on the writer's shoulder starts to shout 'They're going to think it's you!' so a lot of writers just don't bother."

For the same reason, many writers become self-conscious and the writing suffers, says Ms Duffy, who advises other authors not to apply the same rules of writing to the subject of sex. Changing the tense or the viewpoint may help.

And why are so many men nominated for the Bad Sex award, but not women?

"In my experience men are not any worse at writing about sex, but perhaps people are just not used to hearing men in our culture talking about sexuality and sensuality." Article continues here ...

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Didn't Alan Titchmarsh win this award one year? :eek: :oops: :rofl:

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