Yes! Yes! Yes!…Oh no

Ah yes, it’s in the air. Happens every December. All that joyous warbling. All that frantic pushing and shoving. All that delicious anticipation that leads up to that frenzied moment when you tear off the wrappings to get that lovely prize.
Yes, it’s the annual Bad Sex In Fiction Awards.
Don’t know about you, but this is the highlight of my year as a writer. Because I have been there, naked before the computer screen — well not literally but quite figuratively –- trying to put into words this most basic human act. And it is not easy to do without sounding like a fifth grader with a gland disorder.
Yes, I have sex. In my books. But I usually weasel out and fade to black, hoping my readers are old enough to remember when Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr rolling in the surf was hot. And I have sat on enough sex panels at writers conventions to know that all my fellow authors struggle with this. Except maybe Barry Eisler but I once saw him take down a drunk in the bar at the Edgars so maybe his id is a little more out there than the rest of ours.
We crime dogs all know one truth about our genre: It is far easier to write the most evil serial killer than it is to write about the two-backed beast. And I, for one, really appreciate the fact that the editors at the Literary Review wade through all the big important novels to cull out the best examples of the worst sex committed on paper. Because I like knowing that people like Phillip Roth and Tom Wolfe can, when they really apply themselves, write worse crap than I can.
The bad sex prize was established by the Literary Review “to draw attention to the crude and often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel and to discourage it”. There were so many good entries this year that even J. K. Rowling (The Casual Vacancy) and E.L. James (Fifty Shades of Gray) got nosed out.
So…do you want to read some excerpts from the finalists? I warn you, this is not for children or those with weak stomachs. Go ahead. Read ‘em. You know you want to. But you’ll hate yourself in the morning.

Next time can we just do it on the floor?

“Down, down, on to the eschatological bed. Pages chafed me; my blood wept onto them. My cheek nestled against the scratch of paper. My cock was barely a ghost, but I did not suffer panic.”
— The Quiddity of Wilf Self by Sam Mills.

We’re gonna need a bigger boat

“We got up from the chair and she led me to her elfin grot, getting amonst the pillows and cool sheets. We trawled each other’s bodies for every inch of history.” — Noughties by Ben Masters

If you wanna be a pony soldier you gotta act tough. Now mount up!


“Now his big generative jockey was inside her pelvic saddle, riding, riding, riding, and she was eagerly swallowing it swallowing it swallowing it with the saddle’s own lips and maw — all this without a word.” — Back to Blood, by Tom Wolfe.

Good thing she didn’t raise cacti

“He began thrusting wildly in the general direction of her chrysanthemum, but missing — his paunchy frame shuddering with the effort of remaining rigid and upside down.” — Rare Earth by Paul Mason.

Or maybe it was the Ben & Jerrys she dabbed behind her knees

“She smells of almonds, like a plump Bakewell pudding; and he is the spoon, the whipped cream, the helpless dollop of warm custard.” — The Yips by Nicola Barker.

I AM big, he said. It’s the pictures that got small

“This is when I take my picture, from deep inside the loving. The Canon is part of my body. I myself am the ultrasensitive film — capturing invisible reality, capturing heat.” — Infrared by Nancy Huston

Wouldn’t it be wubberly?

“And he came. Like a wubbering springboard. His ejaculate jumped the length of her arm. Eight diminishing gouts. The first too high for her to lick. Right on the shoulder.” — The Divine Comedy by Craig Raine


Mind the gap!

“In seconds the duke had lowered his trousers and boxers and positioned himself across a leather steamer trunk, emblazoned with the royal arms of Hohenzollern Castle. ‘Give me no quarter,’ he commanded. ‘Lay it on with all your might.’”– The Adventuress: The Irresistible Rise of Miss Cath Fox by Nicholas Coleridge
There. Now don’t you feel better?

25 thoughts on “Yes! Yes! Yes!…Oh no

  1. Chrysanthemum? Had to get out my old biology book from high school on that one. No connection there, so I turned to botany. Still researching. A hoot of a post, Kris.

  2. Funny post! Personally, I was drawn to the ghostly phallic image. It just conjures such a great metaphor. I don’t know though–the equestrian pursuit was a galloping good time too.

    • John:
      Not yet. Only Norman Mailer and John Updike have the coveted lifetime achievement in bad sex award. Tom surely will get one before he’s done.

  3. These entertaining passages and your post make me appreciate romance novels all the more. There the love scenes for the most part are tasteful, focusing on the emotional reactions of the characters while leaving out any crudeness or flowery terms. This does not apply to erotica, which is more graphic. I suggest all writers read some current romance novels to see how sex scenes should be written. Oh, and I have no trouble writing them. LOL

  4. I’ve read some really silly sex scenes in science-fiction novels (not romance), but nothing of this illustrious brilliance! Thank you for a hearty laugh. 😀

  5. True confessions: I had this really serious post ready to go on character development but after James’ brilliant thing on Downton Abbey I thought I’d better wait. So I wrote this after a long day fighting the hordes at Target, putting up Xmas lights only to find one strand was out, and an encounter at my bagel store with a man carrying a giant THE END OF THE WORLD IS COMING! REPENT! (For the record he bought a twelve-pack of bagels and three shmears so evidently the world is lasting at least through next Tuesday.) Glad you all liked my bad sex.

  6. *Off topic*

    What happened to the Kill Zone display? Since the Scavenger Hunt post, I no longer see the right hand column. Today, when I click to read the comments, instead of being taken to the comments page, I get the comments below the post on the black-background page, and at last, the right column shows up again. I don’t think this is a browser issue because older posts look just like they always did.


  7. Hi Kathy, we had a request to add the “reply” feature to each comment so someone could rely directly to the person making the comment. But in order to do so, the Blogger program must place the comments on the same page as the post. If we find that others like yourself may not like this new layout, we will revert back to the previous display version.

    • Victoria: You sent me to Google images because I had to see a Bakewell tart. It looks yummy. There is, nonetheless, a bad joke somewhere in here about tarty Brit women…

  8. THIS JUST IN! Nancy Huston won this year’s award! The internationally acclaimed Huston — who has won France’s Prix Goncourt for “Instruments des Ténèbres” and was longlisted Britain’s Orange Prize for fiction by women with “Faultlines” — beat out some stern competition in the form of Tom Wolfe’s “Back to Blood” and Nicola Barker’s “The Yips.”

    Huston becomes only the third woman to have won the prize. It’s so gratifying to know the fairer sex is rising to such great levels.

  9. Ermagherd that is funny. I write naughty under a pen name and even though the point of erotica is to be . . um . . . to the point, my worst beats out those slithy toves that gyre and gimble in the wabe.

    Robert Ludlum also writes some pretty bad sex scenes. They are, in my opinion, tedious and, well, tedious. One I will never forget has the female hero running across the room, leaping, and landing squarely on the male hero’s . . . ya know. That one still makes me squirm awkwardly 20 years later.

    This is the best post ever.

    PS: I like old format better. The blog still shows up that way in Chrome.

  10. I didn’t know whether to laugh or run. I’d have to vote for Wolf out of this pack. Some of these descriptions are enough to scare a person off for life. Maybe they should use some of these as scare tactics for teens.

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