You Know You Want It…
It’s the Bad Sex in Fiction Awards!

By PJ Parrish

You’ve been waiting for it all year with bated breath. Your pulse rises every time you think about it. Some of you, oh faithful TKZ regulars, have even been emailing me begging to know when I was going to post my one annual post you can’t live without.

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Yes, friends, just in time for Christmas, wrapped up here in a big blue-language bow, is THE LITERARY REVIEW’S BAD SEX IN FICTION AWARDS!

This is the 24th year the Literary Review has honored an author who has written the most “outstandingly bad scene of sexual description in an otherwise good novel.” Past winners have included Norman Mailer, David Guterson, and Thomas Wolfe and the nominees pretty much include every big literary name you’ve heard of. I like presenting this every December because, if nothing else, it makes us mere mortal writers understand that when it comes to sex, we’re all human — or, in one case this year, maybe bovine. The award was announced at a lavish ceremony Nov. 30 at the In & Out Club in London. No, I did not make up the name of that club. It is a distinguished private gathering place for members of the British armed forces.

But let’s get on with it, what say?

Here are the finalists first, so we can work ourselves up into a good lather waiting for the winner. And don’t write blaming me for any of this. I’m just the messenger here. I stopped trying to write sex scenes decades ago.

gas

But  a loose ball bearing was his downfall…

A Doubter’s Almanac by Ethan Canin
As she talked Andret would make gentle, two-fingered tugs all the way around the hem of her dress to expose the lacy parts of her undersuit, like a child pulling candles from the rim of a birthday cake. Then he would begin kissing the frills. This she found beguiling. During sex she would quiet, moving suddenly on top of him like a lion over its prey. Her eyes stayed wide, Andret liked to keep his own closed; but whenever he opened them, there she would be, staring down at him, her black pupils gyroscopically inert. Again: leonine. He couldn’t help thinking that her gaze, even as she bent over him and strained her shoulders like a collared beast, was in fact an indictment.

The act itself was fervent. Like a brisk tennis game or a summer track meet, something performed in daylight between competitors. The cheap mattress bounced. She liked to do it more than once, and he was usually able to comply. Bourbon was his gasoline.

age-of-cigar-box-label-beach-mercuria

Is that a cigar rack in your back or are you just glad to see me?

The Tobacconist by Robert Seethaler

She looked him in the eyes, and, very slowly, brought her face up close to his, and when he felt her breath on his mouth and saw the delicate trembling of her puckered top lip, a shudder of joy passed through him with such force that he would almost certainly have fallen backwards into the cigar rack if Anezka hadn’t caught him at the last moment and pressed him firmly against her body. He closed his eyes and heard himself make a gurgling sound. And as his trousers slipped down his legs all the burdens of his life to date seemed to fall away from him; he tipped back his head and faced up into the darkness beneath the ceiling, and for one blessed moment he felt as if he could understand the things of this world in all their immeasurable beauty. How strange they are, he thought, life and all of these things. Then he felt Anezka slide down before him to the floor, felt her hands grab his naked buttocks and draw him to her. ‘Come, sonny boy!’ he heard her whisper, and with a smile he let go.

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I could have lasted longer if we hadn’t used TSA Pre-Check.

Men Like Air by Tom Connolly
The walkway to the terminal was all carpet, no oxygen. Dilly bundled Finn into the first restroom on offer, locked the cubicle door and pulled at his leather belt. ‘You’re beautiful,’ she told him, going down on to her haunches and unzipping him. He watched her passport rise gradually out of the back pocket of her jeans in time with the rhythmic bobbing of her buttocks as she sucked him. He arched over her back and took hold of the passport before it landed on the pimpled floor. Despite the immediate circumstances, human nature obliged him to take a look at her passport photo.

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Cow-A-Bung-Her!

The Butcher’s Hook by Janet Ellis
I slide my hands down his back, all along his spine, rutted with bone like mud ridges in a dry field, to the audacious swell below. His finger is inside me, his thumb circling, and I spill like grain from a bucket. He is panting, still running his race. I laugh at the incongruous size of him, sticking to his stomach and escaping from the springing hair below. All the while, we stifle our noise and whisper like a church congregation during the sermon. He pinches my lips when I yelp, I shove my fingers in his mouth when he opens it to howl.

‘Anne,’ he says, stopping and looking down at me. I am pinned like wet washing with his peg. ‘Till now, I thought the sweetest sound I could ever hear was cows chewing grass. But this is better.’ He sways and we listen to the soft suck at the exact place we meet. Then I move and put all thoughts of livestock out of his head.

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Like a virgin, knock-knocking for the very first time

Leave Me by Gayle Forman
Once they were in that room, Jason had slammed the door and devoured her with his mouth, his hands, which were everywhere. As if he were ravenous.

And she remembered standing in front of him, her dress a puddle on the floor, and how she’d started to shake, her knees knocking together, like she was a virgin, like this was the first time. Because had she allowed herself to hope, this was what she would’ve hoped for. And now here it was. And that was terrifying.

Jason had taken her hand and placed it over his bare chest, to his heart, which was pounding wildly, in tandem with hers. She’d thought he was just excited, turned on. It had not occurred to her that he might be terrified, too.

Whew…

And finally, here is our winner, the Italian author Erri De Luca, who has been called by critics “the writer of the decade.” Proving, as the judges said, that even in the wake of Brexit, bad sex knows no borders.

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Paradise by the dashboard light

The Day Before Happiness by Erri De Luca
She looked at me, her eyes wide open, and brought her bloody lips to mine, pushed her mouth inside mine until I could feel it in my throat. My prick was a plank stuck to her stomach. She eased the pressure of the kiss, broke off. With a swerve of her hips, she turned me over and I was on top of her. She unwound her arms from my shoulders and guided my hands to her breasts. Opened her legs, pulled up her dress and, holding my hips over her, pushed my prick against her opening. I was her plaything, which she moved around. Our sexes were ready, poised in expectation, barely touching each other: ballet dancers hovering en pointe.

We stayed like that. Anna looked down at them. She pushed on my hips, an order that thrust me in. I entered her. Not only my prick, but the whole of me entered her, into her guts, into her darkness, eyes wide open, seeing nothing. My whole body had gone inside her. I went in with her thrusts and stayed still. While I got used to the quiet and the pulsing of my blood in my ears and nose, she pushed me out a little, then in again. She did it again and again, holding me with force and moving me to the rhythm of the surf. She wiggled her breasts beneath my hands and intensified the pushing. I went in up to my groin and came out almost entirely. My body was her gearstick.

Happy holidays, TKZers! Good health and good writing to you in the coming new year. Peace out.

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It’s time once more for…(Gasp! Oooh! Yes! Yes!)The Bad Sex Awards!

By PJ Parrish

Wow, and this could not have come at a better time, right?

I mean, it’s been a sort of depressing year. (Go read Mark’s Saturday post if you need a reminder). And I just got home from my bagel place where I was reading in the New York Times about Congress’s Cromnibus spending bill, which told me that tucked inside the $1.1 trillion is a provision that requires the Obama administration to include white potatoes in government nutrition programs for mothers and infants. Your tax dollars at work…making the world safe for starch.

But I digress. Let’s get back to the important stuff — sex.

A quick aside before we get properly into this topic, I met a friend of mine for coffee last week – she is also a writer and was telling me all about how she found her boyfriend checking out penis pumps at aiclegal. She told me the whole situation has inspired her to get writing again! It’s amazing what can help you to escape a writer’s block…

Now, we have talked here often about how hard it is to write good sex scenes. A lot of writers find that in order to write about good sex, they need to have experienced it. I think that most of us crime writers do a pretty good job with sex. We get in and out without much ado and many adjectives. Which is why I get such a big kick out of the annual  Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction awards.  It’s sort of fun to see the literary types muck things up.

This year’s winner is Ben Okri. Never heard of him? Well, he won the prestigious Booker Award back in 1991 but his latest novel The Age of Magic, snagged the big bad sex award. His story follows a team of documentary filmmakers who wind up in a hotel by a lake in the shadow of a looming mountain. The winning scene involves Lao, the film’s presenter, and his main squeeze, Mistletoe.

Are you ready? Small children, sensitive dogs, and those easily offended should now leave the room:

Sky rockets in flight. Afternoon delight!

“When his hand brushed her nipple it tripped a switch and she came alight. He touched her belly and his hand seemed to burn through her. He lavished on her body indirect touches and bitter-sweet sensations flooded her brain. She became aware of places in her that could only have been concealed there by a god with a sense of humour.

Adrift on warm currents, no longer of this world, she became aware of him gliding into her. He loved her with gentleness and strength, stroking her neck, praising her face with his hands, till she was broken up and began a low rhythmic wail … The universe was in her and with each movement it unfolded to her. Somewhere in the night a stray rocket went off.”

More? Give me more, you say? Okay, here are some of short-listers who came close but no cigar:

Is that a penguin in your mouth or are you just glad to see me?

“He kissed the slight, rose-coloured trench that remained from her knicker elastic, running around her belly like the equator line circling the world. As they lost themselves in the circumnavigation of each other, there came from nearby shrill shrieks that ended in a deeper howl. Dorrigo looked up. A large dog stood at the top of the dune. Above blood-jagged drool, its slobbery mouth clutched a twitching fairy penguin.” 
— Richard Flanagan, The Narrow Road to the Deep North

I’d like to buy a vowel, Pat, and maybe a period

I continued to tell her flesh of its gifts, such pleasure, gently but insistently given, even biting her earlobe with my front teeth, sweeping her hair from her face, her neck, as she cried, and breathed less jaggedly, “It hurts, it hurts.” I did not stop until it stopped hurting, until I heard pleasure articulated from her. Her throat as open as her body, wet everywhere from tears and the coming, and I did hear it, a long high twisting cry and a twisting in my arms as my fingers dove up and up into the full expressive wetness of her. Hold me, hold me. Here and here, she said after she came, placing one of my hands between her legs to press again, another over her breasts. Hold me tight.

 — Amy Grace Loyd, The Affairs of Others

That girl can really do the Rhombus!

The girls entwined themselves lithely around Tsukuru. Kuro’s breasts were full and soft. Shiro’s were small, but her nipples were as hard as tiny round pebbles. Their pubic hair was as wet as a rain forest. Their breath mingled with his, becoming one, like currents from far away, secretly overlapping at the dark bottom of the sea. These insistent caresses continued until Tsukuru was inside the vagina of one of the girls. It was Shiro. She straddled him, took hold of his rigid, erect penis, and deftly guided it inside her. His penis found its way with no resistance, as if swallowed up into an airless vacuum. She took a moment, gathering her breath, then began slowly rotating her torso, as if she were drawing a complex diagram in the air, all the while twisting her hips. Her long, straight black hair swung above him, sharply, like a whip.

 — Haruki Murakami, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

All the cats who dig striptease prayin’ for a little breeze

Her hair was piled high, but when she shook her head it came cascading down in a glowing wave over her shoulders, and fell as far as her knees. This rippling curtain did not cover her breasts which thrust their way through it like living creatures. They were perfect rounds, white as mare’s milk and tipped with ruby nipples that puckered as my gaze passed over them. Her body was hairless. Her pudenda were also entirely devoid of hair. The tips of her inner lips protruded shyly from the vertical cleft. The sweet dew of feminine arousal glistened upon them.

— Wilbur Smith, Desert God
Like a virgin, baked for the very first time

She was moaning softly now, her breath coming faster. She tasted of apples. Her soft warm flesh was driving me crazy – that dish of delight my tongue was now lapping at frenziedly. Her suppressed cries were coming faster and faster. I unbuttoned my pants, pushing them down past my hips, and my beast, finally released from its cage, sprang up wildly. I started inching my way back up, continuing to stimulate her manually, until the beast found its way in. She opened her eyes and said softly, ‘I’m still a virgin, please be careful.’

I kept myself quiet for a moment, kissed her and said, “I’ll be very gentle, all right?”

Running her tongue over her lips she nodded; she was as hot as boiling water in a distillation flask, and it wasn’t long before I was able to really get going. We both came at the same time. I stayed inside her for a few seconds, gazed at her, and smiled.

— Saskia Goldschmidt, The Hormone Factory

Those are the only ones I can print. Click here for more.  Go on, you know you want to.

So who finds all this dirty stuff? If you want a behind the scenes look at the process the Literary Review goes through every year, watch the video below. But it’s like Bismark said: “Sex is like sausages, it is better not to see it being made.” Or something like that.

Happy holidays, fellow crime dogs. Peace and out.

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