The Bad Sex Literary Award 2019 Shortlist Has Been Released

The most wonderful time of the year.

Everyone knows that sometimes you can be reading a book and it comes to a sex scene and you can just start giggling uncontrollably at the metaphors and synonyms that the author is using to try and describe the salacious lovemaking that’s going on and that’s why the Bad Sex Literary Awards exist.

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Obviously the 2019 edition is going to be as ridiculous as all those before it, so without further ado here’s the shortlist:

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From The River Capture by Mary Costello:

“He clung to her, crying, and then made love to her and went far inside her and she begged him to go deeper and, no longer afraid of injuring her, he went deep in mind and body, among crowded organ cavities, past the contours of her lungs and liver, and, shimmying past her heart, he felt her perfection.”

From The Office of Gardens and Ponds by Didier Decoin:

“Rummaging among the folds of Katsuro’s kimono, she uncovered areas of naked flesh that she began to stroke with the tips of her fingers, with her lips, her tongue and with a sweep of her hair, sleek and cool as the feathers of a crow. Drawing her mouth close to the opening of the wide sleeves of the haori [footnote: ‘A sort of jacket’] that he wore over his kimono, she took hold of the fisherman’s fingers, nibbled them and sucked at them, coating them in a saliva so smooth that they became as slippery as if he had stuck them in a pot of honey, to the extent that he was then incapable of picking anything up.”

From City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert:

“Then I felt it. There was a sensation occurring here that I didn’t even know could occur. I took the sharpest inhale of my life, and I’m not sure I let my breath out for another ten minutes. I do feel that I lost the ability to see and hear for a while, and that something might have short-circuited in my brain – something that has probably never been fully fixed since. My whole being was astonished. I could hear myself making noises like an animal, and my legs were shaking uncontrollably (not that I was trying to control them), and my hands were gripping down so hard over my face that I left fingernail divots in my own skull.”

From Pax by John Harvey:

“‘I see it,’ he said. ‘You are the female praying mantis, devouring her mate.’ ‘I am. You are. I shall eat every shred of you.’ ‘Mouthful by mouthful.’ ‘Exactly. Ah. But boy, you taste good.’ She licked her lips, and pulled him close, but now he was clasping too. It was a kind of slow wrestling, they were knitting each other into a loose slipping knot. He was upside down over her, loving her bush and lick-kissing like eating her inner thighs. Till at last they loved fully and later lay back. She did not chatter. Their arms stirred in a luxurious desultory twining.”

From The Electric Hotel by Dominic Smith:

“In his anatomical speculations Claude had never considered feet to be implicated in lovemaking, but here he was grazing his lips against her silvery pale instep while she murmured into her pillow. When she turned over he retraced his steps, working back toward her head, getting a whispered bon or oui as he passed the russet, malty inlet of her groin, kissing each rib on his ascent.”

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Wow. Hard to believe that some of those aren’t self published they’re so cringeworthy but I think for me it has to come down to Decoin and Costello, with Deacon probably taking it for the use of a footnote in a sex scene and the phrase ‘fisherman’s fingers’. Ewwwww.

For what it’s worth, I didn’t think that Gilbert’s wasn’t that bad and Harvey’s is only bad because it makes sex sounds like the most staccato and boring thing in the world – maybe that’s what he was going for in the context of the novel? Anyway, the winner is announced on December 2nd so try and contain yourself until then.

For more of the same, check out what filming a Hollywood sex scene looks like. Pretty grim to be honest.


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