The best reason never to have a sex scene in your novel

Repeating a favorite pun in this year's coverage of my favorite literary prize, the Guardian informs that the "Bad Sex Award shortlist pits Philip Roth against Stiff Competition." I've never read anything by Mr. Competition, but, like Paul Theroux, he's a two-time offender. (November 2006's headline reads: "Stiff Competition on Bad Sex shortlist"). There are some heavy hitters in the running this year. The list is HERE.

This dubious achievement award goes to the author of the most "unconvincing, perfunctory, embarrassing or redundant sex scene in an otherwise sound literary novel," and past winners include Norman Mailer and Tom Wolfe. Perhaps unsurprisingly there aren't a tremendous selection of excerpts from past nominations to be found on the web, but this collection from 2003 is representative. It reeks so strongly of clammy, clichéd comminglings that one imagines the judges holding their noses while forced to choose only one of these pathetic passages to reward as the very most stinkingist. Almost nothing is funnier, or as awful, as a serious writer trying to write something more than porn.

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