Bad Sex is back!

I’m so excited for the annual Bad Sex Awards put out the Literary Review. The nominated passages included famous and non-famous writers.  (See contending passages here) My favorite previous contender was Zadie Smith’s deliberately awful sex scene on On Beauty. Leaves with that “Urgh, I wanted this to happen?” aftertaste.

I think the biggest crime I’ve seen in these passages are the strong vein over-thinking, the sense of, “yes, I did do the reading and, in fact, decided to regurgitate it here!” That’s not the place for it! Nobody feels like a friggin’ seismograph during sex. It’s nice that you saw a seismograph in that museum, but it has no place during this moment in your novel.

Maybe it’s one of the side-effects of academia’s increasing shadow over the world of novel writing. Or it’s just an aesthetic misfortune in general human thinking in the too-much-information age. We learn all these fun things and stuff them into our stories. Fair enough. But if you can recognize your weakness and curb it, please do so.

The Philip Roth entry is pretty bad, but from what I can tell from the synopsis of The Humbling, the entire book seems like it could’ve been up for this contest. However the entries from Richard Milward and Paul Theroux give it some stiff competition turgid competition throbbing competition pulsating… uh, they might win.

God, the word choice in some of these just makes me want to heave.

I’ve had to write sex scenes before, and I never like doing it because I’m so afraid that it’ll turn out like these. I think the best think to do is a. try not to compare sex to something really far-fetched b. firmly decide whether the reader should be attracted or repulsed/ strategically map out how to do this and  c. try not be clever. (Don’t believe the movies, no one’s clever in bed…if everything’s going properly.)

Fumble by Architecture in Helsinki


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November 2009
The Hype Machine mp3 blogs Questions? Comments? Post suggestions? Leave a comment or mail me at: amherstdam....(at)

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