One of the banes of contemporary literature, in my opinion, is the obligatory sex scene, in which the aesthetic pleasure of fiction is interrupted with a blow-by-blow description of its characters’ sexual experience. Setting aside the moral issues of a work aspiring to pornography, these scenes are almost always very badly written, even when attempted by an otherwise accomplished author.
So Britain’s Literary Review gives an annual “Bad Sex Award” for the worst sex scene in a novel with literary pretensions. (Ordinary trashy novels are not considered.) Previous winners have included John Updike, Norman Mailer, and Tom Wolfe. The purpose of the prize is to ”draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel, and to discourage it.”
This year’s winner is so overwrought, so opaque, so non-erotic, that I don’t think it will offend anyone. I think I can quote the passage after the jump without violating the G-rated standards of this blog. [Read more…]