Guardian Articles on the Bad Sex Awards

Bad sex writing, of course, has its place in literature – and some of it is so bad, that it’s actually good (just check out bad sex award nominee Lee Child). I just wish it didn’t take up quite so much space. There is a lot of it and it can spring on you quite unannounced, and I, for one, don’t want to be repeatedly punished with bad sex scenes in exchange for good character development, or what have you. A little pleasure for pleasure’s sake has never struck me as anti-intellectual.


“She said, “Don’t make me wait, I’ve had enough of that,” and so I kissed the sweaty hollow of her temple and moved my hips forward … She gasped, retreated a little, then raised her hips to meet me. “Sadie? All right?”

“Ohmygodyes,” she said and I laughed. She opened her eyes and looked up at me with curiosity and hopefulness. “Is it over, or is there more?”

“A little more,” I said. “I don’t know how much. I haven’t been with a woman in a long time.”

It turned out there was quite a bit more … At the end she began to gasp. “Oh dear, oh my dear, oh my dear dear God, oh sugar!”


But too many men offer us the fantasies of grownup schoolboys. I refer you to the following passage from The Humbling by Philip Roth, which won him a lifetime achievement’s award from the Literary Review: “It was English that Pegeen spoke when she looked over from where she was, now resting on her back beside Tracy, combing the little black cat-o’-nine-tails through Tracy’s long hair, and, with that kid-like smile that showed her two front teeth, said to him softly, ‘Your turn. Defile her.’ She took Tracy by one shoulder, whispered ‘Time to change masters,’ and gently rolled the stranger’s large, warm body toward his. ‘Three children got together,’ he said, ‘and decided to put on a play,’ whereupon his performance began.”

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