Just like the Razzies
people pay attention to the Literary Review's "Bad Sex" award for the
sheer spectacle of the nominations. And this year—although the crop
included Jonathan Franzen and Annabel Lyon—top honors went to Rowan
Somerville for this well-deserving passage
from The Shape of Her: "Like a lepidopterist mounting a tough-skinned insect with a too blunt pin he screwed himself into her."
Take a moment to chuckle at the painful sentence. And now, learn why you shouldn't have. In a Salon essay penned by Laura Miller
the co-founder of the online mag argues that the Literary Review's "Bad
Sex" award is merely an exercise in "prudery and cowardice." The Review
itself has even admitted that getting publicity is the only purpose of
the awards, and really, it "doesn't take much nerve to stand up in front
of a boozy crowd and read sex passages from other people's books in a
mocking tone of voice while everybody sneers and groans."
it doesn't take any nerve to talk about something that isn't erotic,
it's much harder—Miller points out—to admit that "you've found something
arousing" (which she notes is the "British equivalent of the ninth
circle of hell"). The presenters of the Bad Sex in Fiction award are
all-too-quick to seize an author's outlandish metaphors, but they shy away from
anything that comes close to the sexually arousing in fear of offending
(or arousing) its guffawing audience.
Miller's "antidote" to the "retrograde prudery" of the Literary
Review: "forthright praise for the literary sex writing that does work."
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