Bad sex in Fiction

The winner of this year’s Bad Sex in Fiction is about to be announced.

Last year, for passages in his book, For the Shape of Her, Rowan Somerville won the 18th Bad Sex in Fiction award. When he courageously attended the awards dinner in St James Square in November, he said, “There is nothing more English than bad sex, so on behalf of the nation, I thank you.”

Two questions immediately spring to my mind (I know, I know, you want to read the pieces of bad sex writing that clinched the award for Somerville—just hang on!): one, did he sit down with the express purpose of writing the most unsettling descriptions of sex that he could? And two, what did it do for his book sales? Read on and then tell me what you think.

His description of sex: “Like a lepidopterist mounting a tough-skinned insect with a too blunt pin he screwed himself into her.”

And his take on a woman’s pubic hair: “Desert vegetation following an underground stream.”

While his protagonist: “Unbuttoned the front of her shirt and pulled it to the side so that her breast was uncovered, her nipple poking out, upturned like the nose of the loveliest nocturnal animal, sniffing the night. He took it between his lips and sucked the salt from her.”


Michael Collins Memoirs and Writing

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