Well, Bettys, it’s that time again. No, not holiday shopping time. No, not time to start planning your Thanksgiving feast, either. It’s time for the Literary Review’s infamous Bad Sex Award. Hoorah!
Now in its 21st year, the Bad Sex Award does actually serve a purpose. It’s meant to “draw attention to the crude, badly written, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel, and to discourage it.” (Note: It doesn’t cover pornographic or expressly erotic literature, so erotic lit writers, you’re safe).
It is also HILARIOUS.
The shortlist for this year has just been released, and believe you me, it’s chock FULL of unintentional humor. Since I would be totally remiss not to share these wonderful gems with you, here are a few excerpts and a wee bit of commentary (and yes, they’re NSSFW. That should be obvious, shouldn’t it?):
“A voice I had never imagined was bellowing harshly oh GOD, oh GOD, OHGODOHGOD!” – Susan Choi, My Education
Nothing says “orgasm” like ALL CAPITAL LETTERS.
“I closed my eyes as well and moved inside her, imagining the ribbed flesh, the supple rings of muscle. Mauve and yellow flowers filled the blank screen of my eyelids, the petals loosening and drifting downwards on to smooth grey stone. I kissed the soft bristles in the hollow of her armpit, then I kissed the smaller hollow of her clavicle.” – Rupert Thompson, Secrecy
“In my mouth her nipple turned from strawberry to deep raspberry but the taste I wanted was missing. I had sweat and what had to be soap from washing her dress or herself. Reaching behind me, I found the Brie and broke off a fragment, sucking her nipple through it.”– Jonathan Grimwood, The Last Banquet
Of all the foods I can think of to eat sexily off of another person’s body, Brie… is definitely not one I would choose.
“But phew she too seemed to be surfing the waves of neuromuscular euphoria, so that as, sweating, panting, he bowed his forehead to her chest, she gripped him tight, her sharp nails stabbing; and then they were grinning and kissing each other’s noses, cheeks; and then they lay entangled for a moment, breathing; and then they rose, one after another, went for a piss, came back and settled into bed again.”– Matthew Reynolds, The World Was All Before Them
Sure, peeing afterwards is a realistic touch—but it’s not exactly the sexiest image ever, is it?
Other books up for the “prize” include House of Earth by Woody Guthrie (yes, THAT Woody Guthrie), Motherland by William Nicholson, The Victoria System by Eric Reinhardt, and The City of Devi by Manil Suri. Absent was Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy, the sex writing of which, although bad, was apparently not bad enough. Or maybe it was just too Bridget. Who knows.
The Literary Review has been releasing short excerpts from some of the past years’ winners via their Twitter account under the hashtag #BadSex—and I highly, HIGHLY suggest you go check them out, as they are some of the funniest Tweets you will ever read. Seriously. Comedy GOLD.
The “winner” of the Bad Sex Award will be announced on December 3. We can’t wait!
Lucia Peters is BettyConfidential’s senior editor.