But what motivates an award for “bad sex” writing, and nor for any other category? Why not the dreadful dialogue award? The Dan Brown Award for ludicrous character names? Or (and this would have a legion of nominees), the “most inept allusion to the war in Iraq on an arts programme” award? Once again the The Literary Review's deputy editor inadvertently explains the reason. “In general,” he wrote, “‘good' sex in novels is neither seen nor heard; the eroticism comes from what takes place outside the bedroom. The deed of darkness itself usually provides little but pornographic interest.”
McEwan's book proves the man to be wrong a hundred times over. There isn't a word in On Chesil Beach that is gratuitous or unnecessary to the story of how love is nothing without kindness. The Literary Review's award, and its lionising by the media world, is about embarrassment, not aesthetics. It is a way of talking about rumpy-pumpy and houghmagandy, about expressing a prurient interest in sex, without ever admitting that you are serious about it.
The “deed of darkness”! It is a way of thinking in which the elite allow themselves to be ironic about sexuality, without confronting its reality, while popular culture (run by the same elite) in the form of television programmes and magazines, will tell a teenager how to give her boyfriend a blowjob, but not that hepatitis C can be transmitted in this way. Sex is reduced to “sessions” and “romps”; it isn't engaged upon for enjoyment or pleasure, but for social advancement or to keep your girl or man from straying. And whatever you do, don't seek to write seriously or truthfully about it, because that just invites the appearance of that most heavy-handed of thought policemen, Officer Ridicule.
« Older Darwin's Surprise.... | Mouneer Al-Shaarani's... Newer »
This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments
Buy a Shirt