“Slither slither slither slither went the tongue, but the hand that was what she tried to concentrate on, the hand, since it has the entire terrain of her torso to explore and not just the otorhinolaryngological caverns…” (Tom Wolfe: I Am Charlotte Simmons)
There are few literary awards that authors actively want to avoid winning, but it’s safe to say that the Literary Review’s Bad Sex in Fiction Award is one of them. Spoiler alert but writing sex scenes is really hard (that’s what she said) and few authors have the talent to get it going (that’s what she said). Even the most talented literary minds, capable of spinning the most beautiful sentences from their minds, can stumble when it comes to depicting a bit of good old fashioned fucking.
There are seven nominees this year, and whoever wins will find themselves in good company. Previous victors (who take home an award shaped like a plaster foot, or they would take it home if they turned up to the ceremony but few of them do) include Tom Wolfe, Melvyn Bragg, A.A. Gill, and some dude named Morrissey. The excerpted nominees are below so make sure you tell us which one is the worst!
Laurent Binet: The Seventh Function of Language
He puts his hands on Bianca’s shoulders and slips off her low-cut top. Suddenly inspired, he whispers into her ear, as if to himself: ‘I desire the landscape that is enveloped in this woman, a landscape I do not know but that I can feel, and until I have unfolded that landscape, I will not be happy …’
Bianca shivers with pleasure. Simon whispers to her with an authority that he has never felt before: ‘Let’s construct an assemblage.’
Christopher Bollen: The Destroyers
On the stone porch, in the hot, mountain air, we grapple with our clothing, which, in the darkness, becomes as complicated as mountaineering gear. Her black shirt around her neck, mine unbuttoned, our shorts and underwear slid to our ankles, we seem to be moving at avalanche speed and also, unfortunately, with avalanche precision.
Venetia Welby: Mother of Darkness
Light filters in from the ravaging streaks of the dawn. It splits into fragments of every hue the world has hidden as it strikes the prism of their shelter. Tera’s eyes expand and reflect, crystal orbs of time and space. She moans in colours as he pushes the white dress away and beyond the angelic flesh, luminescent against the damp, mossy bed.
Neil Griffiths: As God Might Be
Looking down, she unbuckled his belt. ‘We’re grown-ups.’
Perhaps he wasn’t quite in the moment, because he thought of Kierkegaard and Socrates. If there wasn’t great wisdom gained by lust, by love, its consummation - the aesthetics of all this - then you were doing it wrong.
‘Kiss me again.’
Jarett Kobek: The Future Won’t Be Long
Memories of these previous encounters became distant, remote, erased once I got down to brass tacks with Jon de Lee.
With Jon it was communication, a dialogue between two bodies, electric impulses transmitted over wires of flesh and bone. Words one cannot speak, words that can only be heard. Skin that became skin that became skin anew.
We made love and we had sex and we had sex and we made love. But reader, again, I implore. Mistake me not. I am not your Pollyanna, I am not your sweet princess. We fucked, we fucked, we fucked, we fucked, we fucked, we fucked.
Wilbur Smith (with David Churchill): War Cry
‘I’m going to have you now,’ Leon said. He led her back up the beach to where the sand was dry. Then he took off his coat, placed it on the ground and she lay down upon it.
‘Christ!’ he muttered, placing himself on top of her. ‘It’s bloody cold. I might get frostbite on my cock.’
She gave a low purring laugh. ‘Silly man. Why don’t you put it somewhere hot?’
Simon Wroe: Here Comes Trouble
A clothed body is always human or human-like, a naked body always animal or animal-like. Only at close quarters is the full extent of a body’s wildness revealed, like when a bird gets trapped inside a house. One is moved to not entirely human thinking then. One goes towards its animalness.