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JV
Posted on Tuesday, December 14, 2004 - 10:28 am:   

I tend to agree with the judges of this award!

http://www.reuters.co.uk/printerFriendlyPopup.jhtml?type=entertainmentNews&story ID=638053

I'm sure fiction is littered with similar examples of writers attempting the challenge...

JeffV
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JV
Posted on Tuesday, December 14, 2004 - 10:33 am:   

Some people tell me the link doesn't work, so here's the Reuter's article.

Jeff

U.S. author Wolfe wins bad sex award
Tue Dec 14, 2004 12:19 AM ET

By Gideon Long
LONDON (Reuters) - American author and journalist Tom Wolfe has won one of the world's most dreaded literary accolades -- the British prize for bad sex in fiction.

The prize is awarded each year "to draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel".

Wolfe won it for a couple of purple passages from his latest novel "I am Charlotte Simmons", a tale of campus life at an exclusive U.S. university.

"Slither slither slither slither went the tongue," one of his winning sentences begins.

"But the hand that was what she tried to concentrate on, the hand, since it has the entire terrain of her torso to explore and not just the otorhinolaryngological caverns -- oh God, it was not just at the border where the flesh of the breast joins the pectoral sheath of the chest -- no, the hand was cupping her entire right -- Now!"

Judges described Wolfe's prose as "ghastly and boring".

The former Washington Post correspondent, whose debut novel "Bonfire of the Vanities" was a defining text of the 1980s, fought off stiff competition from 10 other authors including South African Andre Brink, whose novel "Before I Forget" contains the following description of a woman's vulva:

"(It was) like a large exotic mushroom in the fork of a tree, a little pleasure dome if ever I've seen one, where Alph the sacred river ran down to a tideless sea. No, not tideless. Her tides were convulsive, an ebb and flow that could take you very far, far back, before hurling you out, wildly and triumphantly, on a ribbed and windswept beach without end."

Another writer who only narrowly escaped the prize was Britain's Nadeem Aslam for his novel "Maps for Lost Lovers" a tale of life in a Muslim community in an English town.

"His mouth looked for the oiled berry," one of his raunchiest passages starts.

"The smell of his armpits was on her shoulders -- a flower depositing pollen on a hummingbird's forehead," another reads.

The winner of the award, organised by the London-based Literary Review, is given an Oscar-style statuette and a bottle of champagne -- but only if he or she comes to the awards ceremony in person.

Organisers said Wolfe, who is based in New York, was the first writer in the 12-year history of the competition to decline his invitation.
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Mike S
Posted on Tuesday, December 14, 2004 - 11:30 am:   

The word otorhinolaryngological gets me hot. Say it again.
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Dave G.
Posted on Tuesday, December 14, 2004 - 11:39 am:   

Wolfe addressed a luncheon or breakfast or something in DC and told the assembled dons that nowadays "the kids" call it "tonsil hockey." I think this alone should have garnered the White-Suited One some kind of bad-sex prize. :-)
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Martin
Posted on Tuesday, December 14, 2004 - 12:38 pm:   

There's an interesting article on the possibility of good sex in fiction (in response to the Bad Sex Award) here:

http://books.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,12084,1354399,00.html

The Guardian also has all the Bad Sex long listed passages:

http://books.guardian.co.uk/news/articles/0,6109,1373416,00.html
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Liz
Posted on Tuesday, December 14, 2004 - 01:32 pm:   

How can you get someone's armpit smell on your shoulders? No, don't answer that.

I suppose it could be worse.
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JV
Posted on Tuesday, December 14, 2004 - 01:53 pm:   

I read in Science or somewhere that they did studies and found that, after 6 hours of exposure, women found men's armpit odor extremely attractive. Of course, only in controlled studies would said women stick around sniffing for 6 hours.

JeffV
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Liz
Posted on Wednesday, December 15, 2004 - 01:14 am:   

That means that your nose becomes glued to their armpit, thus resulting in a whole host of other problems.

Basically, however, it's true (though it takes a lot less than 6 hours IMO - about 30 seconds), because as far as I know, the armpits release pheromones and it's those that form the basis of the attraction. Smell is very important.

This is not to say that I bemoan the use of deodorants, BTW, because 99 times out of a hundred, they're not going to be the right pheromones.
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Nels
Posted on Wednesday, December 15, 2004 - 01:42 am:   

If there's one thing to be said about stuff like this... It's that it makes me feel better for never having used the word "otorhinolaryngological" in a piece of fiction.

I wonder, is there some big blank space in these guys' vision when it comes to sex? Is it like, "well, I've fixed the plot hole on page two hundred-seventeen where the university don drives his Porsche across town and it becomes a penguin, now I'll just have to get my medical dictionary out and touch up that sex scene..."

Take care,
Nels
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richard
Posted on Wednesday, December 15, 2004 - 04:17 am:   

I feel a little bit sorry for Wolfe - it's obvious he's tried to bury himself (or the chracter anyway) in the emotional gradient of the sex, ie avoiding the rather clinical and smart-arse knowingness the Guardian article talks about. Just a shame it came out so crap.

Then again, I read an interview with him in Prospect last month and he seems like a complete wanker, so - ha!!!
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richard
Posted on Wednesday, December 15, 2004 - 04:26 am:   

I think the failure-point with sex scenes and so many writers comes from a lack of vision as to the purpose of the scene. Why is this sex in the book? To advance a plot dynamic or define relationship? (and in which case, exactly how?) To titillate? To celebrate human joy? To examine the darker aspects of human behaviour? To express anger at gender oppression? To make a point about a character's psyche? Reading the award long-list, you can't help thinking that half these writers got all blurry on their motives as the zero moment approached, like a teenager nerving himself up to buy a copy of Penthouse, and then just rushed in, blurted it all out, slammed down their money, grabbed and ran... We are still rarely at ease with sexuality as a function of life, especially when compared to that other great emotional staple of fiction, violence, with which we all seem scarily comfortable.
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Dave G.
Posted on Wednesday, December 15, 2004 - 07:36 am:   

"...only eighths of inches from the border of her public hair"?

Either the Guardian is missing a proofreader or Wolfe's obsessions/hang-ups/fetishes are deeper than we thought! :-)
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al duncan
Posted on Wednesday, December 15, 2004 - 08:20 am:   

"moan moan moan moan moan went Hoyt"

Heh. Doesn't this make you think of Baldrick's poem in Blackadder Goes Forth? The one that goes...

Boom, boom, boom went the guns
Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom
Boom, boom, boom, BOOM, BOOM
Boom, boom... boom

Or something like that.
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Dave G.
Posted on Wednesday, December 15, 2004 - 08:52 am:   

slither slither slither
moan moan moan
caress caress caress
slither moan caress
slither slither caress moan slither moan caress slither

Damn. Is it hot in here, or is it just me? :-)

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