Now that I have your attention, let’s talk about sex, baby! It’s a perfectly natural phenomenon that’s also weird and hilarious as all hell. Sex has formed the backbone of centuries of the literary canon, so you’d think that some of the undisputed greats of the medium would have figured out how to write it well by now. Nope, not even close. Sex scenes are actually extremely tough to write well. Ask anyone who’s ever tried to write smutty fan-fiction and they’ll confirm that (hi, how are you?) You need to thread a very fine needle between realism and sensual fantasy without getting too floral in your metaphor choices or veering into the unnervingly anatomical. We’ve all read a sex scene or two in our lifetimes that made us wonder if the author actually knew what sex was. To celebrate the best of the worst in literary sex, I’ve compiled a list of what I believe to be the absolutely most horrifically written sex scenes in fiction. I’m not including any romance novels here because society does enough to punch down at an easy target. This is a list for all the authors who get the prestige of elite literary acclaim but don’t understand how deeply unsexy the term ‘throbbing member’ is.
Obviously, this post is seriously NSFW. You have been warned!
List of the List by Morrissey
‘At this, Eliza and Ezra rolled together into one giggling snowball of full-figured copulation, screaming and shouting as they playfully bit and pulled at each other in a dangerous and clamorous rollercoaster coil of sexually violent rotation with Eliza’s breasts barrel-rolled across Ezra’s howling mouth and the pained frenzy of his bulbous salutation extenuating his excitement as it whacked and smacked its way into every muscle of Eliza’s body except for the otherwise central zone.’
I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe
‘Hoyt began moving his lips as if he were trying to suck the ice cream off the top of a cone without using his teeth […] 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.’
The Shape of Her by Rowan Somerville
‘He grasped the side of her hips, pushed her away and pulled her to him with a slap. Again and again with more force and velocity. Tine pressed her face deeper into the cushion grunting into the foam at each thrust. The wet friction of her, tight around him, the sight of her open, stretched around him, the cleft of her body, it tore a climax out of him with a final lunge. Like a lepidopterist mounting a tough-skinned insect with a too blunt pin he screwed himself into her.’
Winkler by Giles Coren
‘He came again so hard that his d**k wrenched out of her hand and a shot of it hit him straight in the eye and stung like nothing he’d ever had in there, and he yelled with the pain, but the yell could have been anything, and as she grabbed at his d**k, which was leaping around like a shower dropped in an empty bath, she scratched his back deeply with the nails of both hands and he shot three more times, in thick stripes on her chest. Like Zorro.’
Sexus: The Rosy Crucifixion I by Henry Miller
‘My c*** was still firm. It hung obedient on her wet lips, as though receiving the sacrament from a lascivious angel. She came again, like an accordion collapsing in a bag of milk.’
Katerina by James Frey
‘I’m hard and deep inside her fucking her on the bathroom sink her tight little black dress still on her thong on the floor my pants at my knees our eyes locked, our hearts and souls and bodies locked.
Cum inside me.
Cum inside me.
Cum inside me.
Blinding breathless shaking overwhelming exploding white God I cum inside her my cock throbbing we’re both moaning eyes hearts souls bodies one.
Cum. I close my eyes let out my breath. Cum. I lean against her both breathing hard I’m still inside her smiling. She takes my hands lifts them and places them around her body, she puts her arms around me, we stay still and breathe, hard inside her, tight and warm and wet around me, we breathe. She gently pushes me away, we look into each other’s eyes, she smiles.’
The Destroyers by Christopher Bollen
‘She covers her breasts with her swimsuit. The rest of her remains so delectably exposed. The skin along her arms and shoulders are different shades of tan like water stains in a bathtub. Her face and vagina are competing for my attention, so I glance down at the billiard rack of my penis and testicles.’
The Book of Dave by Will Self
‘Dave licked between Phyllis’s shoulder blades and drove his tongue down her grooved back. She shuddered and, grabbing his thigh, pulled it up and over her own so that he half straddled her. In the confusion of their bodies — his hairy shanks, her sweaty thighs, his bow-taut c**k, her engorged basketry of cowl and lip — there was clear intent; so that when he penetrated her, they moved into and out of one another with fluid ease, revving and squealing, before arriving quite suddenly. Dave and Phyl were having sex in her cottage outside Chipping Ongar.’
Will by Christopher Rush
‘O glorious pubes! The ultimate triangle, whose angles delve to hell but point to paradise. Let me sing the black banner, the blackbird’s wing, the chink, the cleft, the keyhole in the door. The fig, the fanny, the cranny, the quim - I’d come close to it now, this sudden blush, this ancient avenue, the end of all odysseys and epic aim of life, pulling at my prick now, pulling like a lodestone. Anne Hathaway’s cow-milking fingers, cradling my balls in her almond palm, now took pity on the poor anguished erection, and in the infinite agony of her desire, guided it to the quick of the wound.
At the same time I searched wildly with the fingers of my left hand, groping blind as Cyclops, found the pulpy furred wetness, parted the old lips of time and slipped my middle finger into the sancta sanctorum. It welcomed me with soft sucking sounds, syllables older than language, solace lovelier than words. She pulled my hand away, positioned the prick, slid her buttocks deep into the grass, raised her thighs back high, crossed her legs behind my back, dug her heels into my spine and hauled at me savagely and hard. I fell into her.
It was exhilarating, to be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space. But Anne Hathaway was a cruel queen. Her calves crushed my ribs, her crossed heels digging in hard, drawing me in deeper. She responded with those cries that men long to hear, the sweet deep moaning sounds that echo the sigh of oceans, the ebb and flow of fields, the sough of stars. So we drank from one another, clung together on the ship we’d made of ourselves, breasting the irrelevance of time.’
And just to end things on an even more horrifying note, here’s an excerpt from one of the love letters that James Joyce wrote to his wife…
‘I did as you told me, you dirty little girl, and pulled myself off twice when I read your letter. I am delighted to see that you do like being fucked arseways. Yes, now I can remember that night when I fucked you for so long backwards. It was the dirtiest fucking I ever gave you, darling. My prick was stuck up in you for hours, fucking in and out under your upturned rump. I felt your fat sweaty buttocks under my belly and saw your flushed face and mad eyes. At every fuck I gave you your shameless tongue come bursting out through your lips and if I gave you a bigger stronger fuck than usual fat dirty farts came spluttering out of your backside. You had an arse full of farts that night, darling, and I fucked them out of you, big fat fellows, long windy ones, quick little merry cracks and a lot of tiny little naughty farties ending in a long gush from your hole. It is wonderful to fuck a farting woman when every fuck drives one out of her. I think I would know Nora’s fart anywhere. I think I could pick hers out in a roomful of farting women. It is a rather girlish noise not like the wet windy fart which I imagine fat wives have. It is sudden and dry and dirty like what a bold girl would let off in fun in a school dormitory at night. I hope Nora will let off no end of her farts in my face so that I may know their smell also.’
Header Image Source: MGM