I don’t write sex scenes. Not any more. Not since Mrs Ford laughed at my one and only attempt, and that was 15 years ago.
As I recall it took place in a shower and involved extreme and unlikely athleticism. I suspect it was this incongruity between fiction and what she knew to be fact that amused her most.
Whatever the reason, it was the equivalent of having a bucket of icy water slooshed over one’s private parts.
But at least I learned my lesson early. If only all writers had wives like Mrs F, then there would be no need for the annual Literary Review Bad Sex in Literature Awards which were held in London last night.
The winner this year was Manil Suri for this extract from his book The City of Devi:
“Surely supernovas explode that instant, somewhere, in some galaxy. The hut vanishes, and with it the sea and the sands – only Karun’s body, locked with mine, remains. We streak like superheroes past suns and solar systems, we dive through shoals of quarks and atomic nuclei. In celebration of our breakthrough fourth star, statisticians the world over rejoice.”
Grim indeed. But it must have been a close-run thing because all the entries were, as usual, gonad-stranglingly bad.
Why is it that even the greatest authors – previous Bad Sex Award winners have included the likes of Sebastian Faulks, Ian Hollingshead and Tom Wolfe – seem lose the plot when it comes to writing about sex?
Is it because they are being self-consciously arty about the beast with two backs? Or is it because they are too embarrassed to describe the act in all its gruesome glory in case their wife reads it and laughs out loud?
From bitter experience, I suspect the latter.