Friday, November 21, 2008

Was It Good For You?

There are some awards writers salivate over: the Pulitzer; the National Book Award; the Booker; the Nobel Prize in Literature; the Newbery; the Printz. When we're not practicing our Oscar acceptance speech (because seriously, who doesn't do that?), we're trying to emulate Faulkner's Nobel speech.

I wonder what kind of speech the winner of the Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Award will give.

This year, they've got some gems. An example from Alastair Campbell's novel All in the Mind:

"He wasn't sure where his penis was in relation to where he wanted it to be, but when her hand curled around it once more, and she pulled him towards her, it felt right...Then as her hand joined the other on his neck and she started making more purring noises, now with little squeals punctuating them, he was pretty sure he was losing his virginity."

It's like 'Oops, where's my penis?' Also, if he doesn't really know what's going on, how is it that she's having a good time with this? Somebody's a Sally Albright.

Granted, sex writing is really difficult. It either sounds silly or overly dramatic or awkward or gross or a combination of the above. So it's hard to call writers out as bad just because their sex scenes didn't really work. But I'm glad we do call them out because, hey, it's hilarious.

The rest of the shortlist:

James Buchan for The Gate of Air
Simon Montefiore for Sashenka
John Updike for The Widows of Eastwick
Kathy Lette for To Love, Honour and Betray
Alastair Campbell for All in the Mind
Rachel Johnson for Shire Hell
Isabel Fonseca for Attachment
Ann Allestree for Triptych of a Young Wolf
Russell Banks for The Reserve
Paulo Coelho for Brida