Wednesday November 18th, 2009

The Best of Bad Sex Writing

philip-rothThe finalists for this year’s Bad Sex in Fiction Award have been announced. Auberon Waugh started the award to “draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel, and to discourage it.” We can only hope that Philip Roth will be discouraged, but that doesn’t seem likely. He is nominated for a scene in The Humbling, which evidently includes this sentence: “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.” How could he possibly not win?

Other candidates are thrilled, or at least have people thrilled on their behalf. Singer Nick Cave was nominated for a scene in his novel The Death of Bunny Munro, about a door-to-door lotion salesman. “Frankly we would have been offended if he wasn’t shortlisted,” said Anna Frame of Canongate, Cave’s publisher.

Richard Milward, 23, was selected for a scene in his novel Ten Storey Love Song:

Comprising just one paragraph and replete with graphic sex scenes, Milward’s second novel follows the story of Bobby the Artist as he becomes a star and then sinks into drug-induced psychosis.

Milward, who accepted the prize in 2007 on behalf of the late Norman Mailer, said he “would have been upset” if he hadn’t been shortlisted this year. “I’ve been there before and I’ll be there again . . . There’s so much bad sex in my book that this is a nice accolade,” he said.

May the worst perv win.