Friday, November 23, 2007

Contest heats up for Bad Sex awards

From The Guardian Thursday.

Ian McEwan may have been passed over for the Booker, but he may yet end the year with a gong in his hand. Although the climax of On Chesil Beach revolves around the fact that it is, in fact, an anti-climax, it is enough to garner him a nomination for the Literary Review's Bad Sex award.

He is joined on the longlist of what the organisers call Britain's "most dreaded literary prize" by Jeanette Winterson with a passage about robotic sex from The Stone Gods; Ali Smith for Girl Meets Boy, and Gary Shteyngart with an athletic description of his crass hero from Absurdistan bedding one of his many conquests ("Her vagina was all that, as they say in the urban media - a powerful ethnic muscle scented by bitter melon, the breezes of the local sea, and the sweaty needs of a tiny nation trying to breed itself into a future").

The late Norman Mailer makes a posthumous appearance with a passage from The Castle in
the Forest
in which the male protagonist's "Hound" is described as "soft as a coil of excrement". More poetic bawdiness is on offer
from Christopher Rush's Life of Shakespeare, told in the Bard's "own
words", and his maritime-themed description of coitus with Anne Hathaway,
in which "I clung like a mariner to her heaving haunches, the deep keel
of her backbone dipping and lifting through July, through the green surge of
growth ... Our vessel ran shuddering onto the rocks, a wave of wetness ran through
us, the air was rent with screams and I became aware that the bank on which we
lay drenched and grounded was journey's end, love's end, the very sea-mark of
our utmost sail."
Now in its 15th year, the prize, which only targets literary fiction, aims "to draw attention to
the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual
description in the modern novel, and to discourage it." The winner, who
will be announced on November 27 at the In & Out Club in London, is awarded
a semi-abstract statue representing sex in the 1950s and a bottle of
champagne, if he or she turns up.

In 2005, Tom Wolfe was one of the very few recipients to fail to attend; he later criticised the judges for failing to recognise the irony contained in the winning passage from I Am
Charlotte Simmons.
Last year's winner was Iain Hollingshead, whose award was
presented by the rock singer Courtney Love. Previous presenters have included
Mick Jagger, Jerry Hall, Sting and Germaine Greer.

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