You’re Doing It Wrong

The nominations for the Bad Sex in Fiction award, mounted by the Literary Review in London, that honors writers who write embarrassing sex scenes, this year includes John Updike, Isabel Fonseca, Paulo Coelho, Simon Sebag Montefiore, and Tony Blair’s former press secretary Alastair Campbell. They will have to try hard to beat last year’s winner, Norman Mailer, who won the award, which is in the shape of a foot, from beyond the grave with a particularly silly scene in his novel The Castle in the Forest. An example of Campbell’s excruciating prose? “He wasn’t sure where his penis was in relation to where he wanted it to be, but when her hand curled around it once more, and she pulled him towards her, it felt right. Then, as her hand joined the other on his neck and she started making more purring noises, now with little squeals punctuating them, he was pretty sure he was losing his virginity,” Campbell writes. And Montefiore, from his new novel, the Soviet saga Sashenka: “He pulled down her brassiere, cupping her breasts, sighing in bliss. ‘The blue veins are divine,’ he whispered.” Past winners include Tom Wolfe.