ten authors shortlisted for the annual Bad Sex In Fiction Award, I have to say the passages quoted are pretty excruciating. But then again, can any fictional description of sex ever do justice to the real thing? I think not.
Sex is such a personal and physical experience, I don't really think any writer, however brilliant, can capture it at all realistically. Their attempts are inevitably going to be leaden, bizarre or over-the-top.
Certainly I've never read any description of sex that accurately reflects my own experience. The images conjured up are quite laughable, like a non-swimmer trying to describe what it's like to swim.
So in a way the Bad Sex Award, however amusing it may be, is rather unfair on the poor embarrassed authors who're singled out for special attention. I'm sure their efforts are not much worse than all the authors who've been lucky enough to escape notice.
In fact I wonder why sex has to be described at such length in novels anyway. What's the point of these flowery renderings of a bit of nooky? We all know what it's like (well, those of us who actually engage in it), so why not just leave us to fill in the details? A lot of writers could save themselves a lot of creative torture and a lot of guffawing readers by putting the red pencil through the whole shebang.
But just to give you a taste of the Bad Sex offerings, here's a typical passage:
"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. The 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."
That's from Desert God by Wilbur Smith.
And now I have to go, I'm laughing so much it hurts.