Meet me, a literary dunce. I’ll admit it—I am always a million years behind on the “good books” that are “out this year.” I get confused about which literary prizes are important and which authors I should have definitely read by now. But after browsing through the 2018 all-male shortlist for the Literary Review’s annual bad sex in fiction award—given to the person with “the most egregious passage of sexual description in a work of fiction”—even a mere books dabbler like me must come to one, true literary opinion: Dudes cannot write about sex.
You can see for yourself, thanks to The Guardian for doing the lord’s work and picking out some of the most embarrassing sex scenes from the men’s books short-listed for this year’s award. Here are some of my favorite passages from their list (emphasis mine):
From Scoundrels: The Hunt for Hansclapp by Major Victor Cornwall and Major Arthur St John Trevelyan:
“Empty my tanks,” I’d begged breathlessly, as once more she began drawing me deep inside her pleasure cave. Her vaginal ratchet moved in concertina-like waves, slowly chugging my organ as a boa constrictor swallows its prey. Soon I was locked in, balls deep, ready to be ground down by the enamelled pepper mill within her.
The boa constrictor is ... the vagina ... and the mouse is ... the dick? And the vagina is also ... an enameled pepper mill? This is indeed what sex feels like—confusing metaphors about predators and kitchenware. Are you horny, baby?
From Katerina by James Frey:
I’m hard and deep inside her fucking her on the bathroom sink her tight little black dress still on her thong on the floor my pants at my knees our eyes locked, our hearts and souls and bodies locked.
Cum inside me.
Cum inside me.
Cum inside me.
Blinding breathless shaking overwhelming exploding white God I cum inside her my cock throbbing we’re both moaning eyes hearts souls bodies one.
We get it, these two characters feel a connection because they are locked together, i.e. fucking.
From Connect by Julian Gough:
He drops the bra to the floor, looks up, into her eyes, it’s too much. He kisses her chin, her mouth, and their tongues touch, oh, too much, he slips his lips free with a soft suck. Moves up to kiss her strong nose, on one side, then the other, it’s hard and soft at once. He moves back down, till he is level with her breasts.
‘They’re small,’ she says, surprisingly shy, apologetic.
‘They’re perfect,’ he says.
He kisses them. Teases a nipple with his lips. It’s so soft; and then, suddenly, hard.
There’s only one thing I have to say to you, sir: Wow!!!!
From Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami:
My ejaculation was violent, and repeated. Again and again, semen poured from me, overflowing her vagina, turning the sheets sticky. There was nothing I could do to make it stop. If it continued, I worried, I would be completely emptied out. Yuzu slept deeply through it all without making a sound, her breathing even. Her sex, though, had contracted around mine, and would not let go. As if it had an unshakeable will of its own and was determined to wring every last drop from my body.
Yes, the seemingly buckets of semen that Murakami writes about is, um, reaching, to say the least. But this description of a woman “wring[ing] every last drop from my body” as if his penis is a dirty dishtowel is really something to behold.
From Grace’s Day by William Wall:
He’s almost weightless. When he enters me it hurts and my pain belongs to the subterranean world, primitive as the clay. His body is slacker than I expected, a small paunch begins at his waist and settles in a downward parabola to his groin. His pubic hair is red. His erect penis is a surprise although I had imagined what they would feel like, read about them, seen them represented on toilet walls and magazines. I didn’t see it before he entered me, but afterwards it is small and sticky and amusing. I want to touch it but I don’t dare. I don’t know the etiquette. He is twenty or more years older than me. This is sex.
In extremely confused David Foster Wallace voice: “This is sex? This is sex.”
If you want to gouge your eyes out, read the full list of passages here.