Contest heats up for Bad Sex awards" ... Ian McEwan may have been passed over for the Booker, but he may yet end the year with a gong in his hand. Although the climax of On Chesil Beach revolves around the fact that it is, in fact, an anti-climax, it is enough to garner him a nomination for the Literary Review's Bad Sex award.
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."
Now in its 15th year, the prize, which only targets literary fiction, aims "to draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel, and to discourage it." The winner, who will be announced on November 27 at the In & Out Club in London, is awarded a semi-abstract statue representing sex in the 1950s and a bottle of champagne, if he or she turns up.
In 2005, Tom Wolfe was one of the very few recipients to fail to attend; he later criticised the judges for failing to recognise the irony contained in the winning passage from I Am Charlotte Simmons. Last year's winner was Iain Hollingshead, whose award was presented by the rock singer Courtney Love. Previous presenters have included Mick Jagger, Jerry Hall, Sting and Germaine Greer. ... "
Norman Mailer Posthumously Wins Bad Sex Award
By Kimberly Maul
The winner of the dreaded Bad Sex Award was announced today at the In & Out Club in London: the late Norman Mailer, The Guardian reported. Mailer's The Castle in the Forest beat out seven other shortlisted titles, all with cringe-worthy sex scenes.
"Then she was on him," Mailer wrote on the offending excerpt from The Castle in the Forest. "She did not know if this would resuscitate him or end him, but the same spite, sharp as a needle, that had come to her after Fanni's death was in her again. Fanni had told her once what to do. So Klara turned head to foot, and put her most unmentionable part down on his hard-breathing nose and mouth, and took his old battering ram into her lips. Uncle was now as soft as a coil of excrement."
The award was launched in 1993 by Auberon Waugh, who was then the editor of the Literary Review, in order 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 is the first time the award has been given posthumously.
The award's shortlist, the Guardian reported, included Jeanette Winterson's The Stone Gods, Ali Smith's Girl Meets Boy, Gary Shteyngart's Absurdistan, Clare Clark's The Nature of Monsters, David Thewlis' The Late Hector Kipling, Richard Milward's Apples, and Christopher Rush's Will.