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It's one of those awards you cringe when you hear about it because you see both sides, why receiving the award might not be such a good thing and also why such an award is necessary.  I'm talking, of course, about the Literary Review's Bad Sex In Fiction Award.  (I'm guessing they mean "officially published fiction," like by a literary house.  It's the only way to explain the lack of mention of My Immortal.)  It was established in 1993, and highlights really really really bad descriptions of sex.  Winners have included Norman Mailer, Tom Wolfe, AA Gill, and Sebastian Faulks (no, no Peter G, and fuck you for even thinking such a thing).  John Updike made the list four times but never took the prize, but was given a special "lifetime achievement award" in 2008 just for his tenacity.  Isn't that nice?

So, this year's winner is Rowan Somerville for his book The Shape Of Her.  He beat out Christos Tsiolkas (The Slap), Jonathan Frazen (Freedom), and Alistar Campbell (Maya).  Campbell is interesting because he's a spin doctor for Tony Blair.  Guess it's easier to talk about politicians screwing voters than two people screwing each other.

What's that?  A representative sample, you ask?  Okay, but only because it'll make you feel better about your own writing abilities...

*  Like a lepidopterist mounting a tough-skinned insect with a too blunt pin he screwed himself into her.

*  A nipple is described as "upturned like the nose of the loveliest nocturnal animal, sniffing the night".

*  A character "released his hair from her fingers and twisted onto her belly like a fish flipping itself".

I will give Somerville eternal credit for this -- he's a real sport about it.  "It is an honour to share a list with Jonathan Franzen. There is nothing more English than bad sex, so on behalf of the entire nation I would like to thank you."  Well, they do say writers should write what they know.

Here's hoping none of us wind up being nominated.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 1st, 2010 11:58 pm (UTC)
wow...just wow
Dec. 2nd, 2010 12:13 am (UTC)
Somerville's response is very classy - A+ to him!

That nipple thing, and that sentence about the lepidopterist, will haunt me forever. Nightmare fuel.
Dec. 2nd, 2010 03:24 am (UTC)
I had to look up "lepidopterist."

Now, I'm sorry I did....
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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