Soft as a coil of excrement
November 27, 2007 1:04 PM   Subscribe

Norman Mailer has posthumously won this year's Literary Review Bad Sex Award for his novel on the early life of Hitler, The Castle in the Forest. He was up against some stiff competition but Norman managed to rise to the occasion (sorry). Safe for work, but you might feel a bit dirty in the morning.
posted by fearfulsymmetry (24 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

... you might feel a bit dirty in the morning.

No more than usual.
posted by cog_nate at 1:09 PM on November 27, 2007

Yeah, I really liked Mailer, and was sad to hear that he'd died, but that Hitler book was pretty fucking awful; not least because it contained some pretty awful fucking.
posted by COBRA! at 1:12 PM on November 27, 2007

Heh. I'm currently reading The Religion, which almost won last year.
posted by Artw at 1:15 PM on November 27, 2007

My bedroom was filled with the smell of asparagus and related greenery

That's hot.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 1:18 PM on November 27, 2007

You know what I like about this? I can say that all of the passages contain awful fucking writing, and fucking serves multiple purposes, depending on how you read the sentence.

I like the economy of that.
posted by never used baby shoes at 1:27 PM on November 27, 2007 [2 favorites]

Great. So death is now the second worst thing to happen to Mailer this year.
posted by Bromius at 1:36 PM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

I have a cunning plan to promote abstinence.

posted by ersatz at 1:41 PM on November 27, 2007

Her vagina was all that, as they say in the urban media - a powerful ethnic muscle scented by bitter melon, the breezes of the local sea, and the sweaty needs of a tiny nation trying to breed itself into a future.

With all due respect to the late Mr. Mailer's tired sap, Gary Shteyngart's Absurdistan was clearly robbed. I assume he's trying to be funny - he moves on to "paprika shoots" and "FUCK ME" (all caps his) - but that's still no excuse.

"Compared with most young novelists his age, who tend toward cutesy involution" - this, inexplicably, from the NY Times rave - "Shteyngart is a giant mounted on horseback." Which, you've got to admit, is a pretty tricky position from which to fuck a melon.
posted by gompa at 1:50 PM on November 27, 2007 [5 favorites]

There was a slightly humourless but interesting Times article today:
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.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 2:00 PM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

"the Hound"??!
posted by donovan at 2:36 PM on November 27, 2007

"the Hound"??!

It's a Lovecraft reference.
posted by Artw at 2:51 PM on November 27, 2007

Artw "'the Hound'??!

"It's a Lovecraft reference.

No, it's cockney rhyming slang. "Hound of the Baskervilles" = "Sherlock" = "Cock".
posted by Bugbread at 2:57 PM on November 27, 2007

There are very few writers in America that can write about sex as it takes place in a way that is compelling, interesting, exciting--how many writers can you name that are good at it?
ps: the Mailer Hitler book is a fairly good book, bad sex writing or not. And for some of the greatest love letters I have ever come upon, Mailer's inclusion of Gilmore letters to his girlfriend and hers to him are as good as it gets.
posted by Postroad at 3:05 PM on November 27, 2007

Dare I actually google the whole paragraph?

Why, yes. Yes, I do.

“Klara turned head to foot, and put her most unmentionable part down on his hard-breathing nose and mouth, and took his old battering ram into her lips. [Into her lips?] Uncle was now as soft as a coil of excrement. She sucked on him nonetheless with an avidity that could come only from the Evil One— that she knew. From there, the impulse had come. So now they both had their heads at the wrong end, and the Evil One was there. He had never been so close before. The Hound began to come to life. Right in her mouth. It surprised her. Alois had been so limp. But now he was a man again! His mouth lathered with her sap, he turned around and embraced her face [embraced her face?] with all the passion of his own lips and face, ready at last to grind into her with the Hound, drive it into her piety, yes, damn all piety, thought Alois—damned church-mouse wife, damned church!—he was back from the dead—some kind of miracle, he was all there, his pride equal to a sword. This was better than a storm at sea!"

I'm sorry. But. Just. No.
posted by miss lynnster at 3:06 PM on November 27, 2007 [2 favorites]

I'm so sorry I just read that. Couldn't resist, but still. "Lathered with her sap" is just so wrong - reminds me of santorum. I like to think that Mailer would be sport enough to show up for his award, were he still alive, but I doubt it, poor bastard.
posted by jimmietown softgirl at 3:22 PM on November 27, 2007

In the mefi version it’s a powerful ethnic muscle tasting like a 9 volt battery.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:26 PM on November 27, 2007

MetaFilter: Death is now the second worst thing to happen.
posted by ersatz at 4:31 PM on November 27, 2007

You know, if you took the sentence-closing punctuation out of that paragraph, Mailer would also be in the running for the Bulwer-Lytton award.
posted by maxwelton at 4:57 PM on November 27, 2007

The great and wonderful thing about very bad literature is how it crosses back over into... not a demonstration of skill or acumen, but something god-given, something elemental... this is so very, very awful, so grotesque, it's perfect:

“Klara turned head to foot, and put her most unmentionable part down on his hard-breathing nose and mouth, and took his old battering ram into her lips. Uncle was now as soft as a coil of excrement."

It's a call for worldwide celebacy.
posted by Divine_Wino at 5:05 PM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

As an experiment, I just asked my wife if she'd like to bring my soft coil of excrement back from the dead so that I might violate her piety...

...apparently I'm not getting any tonight. Or the remainder of the week. Christmas was mentioned.
posted by maxwelton at 9:04 PM on November 27, 2007

This reminds me of The Big O (link to SA forums, annoying ads if you're not a member) which is full of extremely horribly written sex scenes.
posted by ODiV at 9:52 PM on November 27, 2007

Oh, and some swears are filtered to less offensive words. Damn SA is annoying if you're not logged in. The Big O is worth it though, I assure you.
posted by ODiV at 9:56 PM on November 27, 2007

wow. that is the worst paragraph of anything i have ever ever ever ever read.
posted by blacklite at 11:33 PM on November 27, 2007

how many writers can you name that are good at it?

James Salter.
posted by ninebelow at 5:23 AM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

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