By Dennis Abrams
It’s that time of year again – when rock star Morrissey faces off against Erica Jong and George Pellicanos (among others) for the 2015 Bad Sex in Fiction Award, given, as it has been for the last 23 years by the Literary Review “to draw attention to poorly written, perfunctory or redundant passages of sexual description in modern fiction, and to discourage them”.
But as Maev Kennedy wrote in The Guardian, “There is absolutely no sign that it is succeeding in its noble objective.”
Eight titles have made the illustrious shortlist, although, to the surprise of some (or perhaps many and certainly to the surprise of John Oliver), a certain story regarding a certain British PM, a certain body part and a certain pig’s head did not make the final cut.
But, as the judges said in a statement, “Michael Ashcroft and Isbael Oakeshott’s Call Me Dave was brought to the judges’ attention because of its suggestion that ‘the future PM inserted a private part of his anatomy into the animal’s mouth.’ That assertion was so flimsily corroborated as to resemble fiction, but, regrettably, the biographers displayed insufficient literary brio to merit serious consideration.”
Even with that lamentable loss, there are still plenty of bad sex scenes for the judges to choose from:
Take this, for example, from Morrissey’s first novel List of the Lost, published, to the amusement and/or astonishment of many, by Penguin “Classics:”
“Eliza and Ezra rolled together into the 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.”
Or this, for example, from Erica Jong’s Fear of Dying, whose most famous work, Fear of Flying, introduced the world to the idea of the “zipless fuck.”
“I am swept away with waves of anticipation that blank out my mind and let me focus only on pleasure, releasing the painful past, releasing the desire to return there and be young and beautiful again. Fuck young and beautiful – this is worth everything – and I come with fierce contractions that seem to go on and on endlessly.”
Or this from Lauren Groff’s critically acclaimed, award-shortlisted novel Fates and Furies:
“He shut his eyes and thought of mangoes, split papayas, fruits tart and sweet and dripping with juice, and then it was off, and he groaned and his whole body turned sweet.”
Or this, from Book of Numbers by Joshua Cohen, who made headlines earlier this year for his online literary experiment, PCKWCK.
“Her mouth was intensely ovoid, an almond mouth, of citrus crescents. And under that sling, her breasts were like young fawns, sheep frolicking in hyssop – Psalms were about to pour out of me.”
The list of nominees is rounded out with Tomas Espedol for Against Nature, George Pelecanos for The Martini Shot, Alexsandar Hemon for The Making of Zombie Wars, and Richard Bausch for Before, During After.
The winner will be announced on December 1, at the all-too-appropriately named “In and Out Club” in London.