Lee Rourke Says Good Literature Can’t Have Good Sex

Lee Rourke, of the Guardian, opines that literary fiction always presents sex in unbelievable ways. He spends a lot of time ridiculing examples of failed attempts, but he doesn’t seem to feel the need to give his theory on why that is.

When authors try to turn sex into something literary – something it can never be – they begin to miss the point completely.

Why is it that when they turn to war, love, death, sickness, madness or nature into something literary, they seem to manage it fine? What is it about sex, specifically that ‘cannot be’ written about in a literary manner?

I disagree with him. I think it can. I think the only barrier to writing sex in a literary manner is taking it as seriously as we take all those other things we turn into literature everyday. And considering the ways in which we all seem to twist ourselves into knots about it, do jawdroppingly irresponsible things to get it, etc., I think it behooves a decent writer to take it seriously, and write about it that way.

That Rourke feels it is an ‘unserious’ and giggle-worthy subject speaks to his – and the vast bulk of the world’s literati – adolescent attitude to sex. The problem is not with the subject, it’s with the writer and the critic.

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