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Tuesday, December 14, 2021

How bad are the sex scenes in Tom Wolfe’s new novel, “I Am Charlotte Simmons”? Bad enough to win Wolfe the London-based Literary Review’s Bad Sex in Fiction Award.

The winning diction:

“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!”

Otorhinolaryngological? Pectoral sheath of the chest?? Yeesh. If Wolfe really was going for a dry and clinical description of the sex act, as he’s said in interviews, then mission accomplished — and then some. I don’t blame him for not showing up for the award ceremony.

Let’s also look at the runners-up:

… 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.

Am I supposed to be feeling horny right now, or nauseous?

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 12/14/2004 08:21:05 PM
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