Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Professionally bad sex

Remember our Le Bad Sex competition? It was inspired by Guardian Unlimited Books' Bad Sex in Fiction Award. Props to The Word Munger for feeding me this link to a Guardian Unlimited article providing full text of the firmest contenders. (Sarah beat me to it, but since one or two of you don't read the Smart Bitches, and since the above link is -- apologies, Sarah, but it must be said -- far more graphic, I decided to run with it.)
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  • What is it about sex that drives such respected authors as John Updike, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Salman Rushdie to the absolute pits of literary whiffydom? Read the Guardian Unlimited article and savor the rank odor of truly bad writing. Sorry, Daisy, I know your piece won my contest, but it shouldn't have. It was far too well written. Take one of the shorter entries: The Olive Readers by Christine Aziz (Macmillan) We made our way to the summerhouse and hid in its shadows. We lay on the cool floor and I twined my legs around Homer's body, gripping him like a hunter hanging on to its prey. He made love to me with his fingers and I came in the palm of his hand. He stroked my breasts and neck. "Don't wash it away" he said. "I want to be able to smell you tonight." Like a hunter hanging on to its prey? And what's with the funky punctuation ("Don't wash it away" he said.)? My high school AP English teachers would have red-lined me to hell and back. As for content -- eeew. You wouldn't repeat this to your best friend, would you? For most people, this would qualify as too much information. If you wouldn't tell it to your best friend, why would you share it with your readers? Ah. I almost forgot the sole commandment of Serious Fiction: give us a glimpse of Truth. This also explains the following line from Marlon Brando and Donald Cammell's Fan Tan: It is the one drawback of fellatio as conscientious as hers that it eliminates the chance for small talk and poetry alike. Guys: next time you're gettin' some and your gal is reciting "The Red Wheelbarrow," tell her she's not being conscientious enough. See how far you get. D.


    Blogger Lilith Saintcrow said...

    Oh, Lord. Thank you, I think. Just goes to show that as bad as you think you can write, someone can always write worse. *sigh*

    Now I've got to go scrub out the place in my head that edits with bleach. 'Cause you know, reading those entries gave me twitches. And not in a good way.

    12/01/2005 11:09:00 AM  
    Blogger Daisy Dexter Dobbs said...

    “Sorry, Daisy, I know your piece won my contest, but it shouldn't have. It was far too well written.”

    NO! It was awful. Terrible! Baaaaad! Oh PLEASE, Dr. Hoffman, puhleeze don’t make me return my shiny, bling-encrusted Official Queen of Good Bad Sex Writing crown…at least not until after the holidays. I look so damn good in it as I labor at the keyboard garbed in my raggy sweatshirt and jeans.

    12/01/2005 12:21:00 PM  
    Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

    Lilith: it should make you feel especially cozy knowing how favorably you compare to the likes of Updike and Marquez ;o)

    Daisy, sorry, but your entry was a well wrought (or well overwrought?) extended metaphor, with nary a glitch in the writing. Don't worry about your title; you won it fair and square.

    12/01/2005 12:38:00 PM  
    Blogger Pat Kirby said...

    Gosh, it almost--almost--makes the usual romance-y, "his pulsing shaft thundered up and down her velvet channel" seem like damned good writing.

    Wandering off to write something pornographic...

    12/01/2005 12:40:00 PM  
    Blogger Robyn said...

    Don't wash? When it's all over her up to her neck? EWWW! Just EWWWW! So he can SMELL her? How's she supposed to explain this one to her mother/child/boss/supermarket cashier? EWWWWWWW!!!

    12/01/2005 04:39:00 PM  

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