Bad s-x rears its head … and so forth, etc

Literary Review’s Bad Sex Awards – Helen Razer – Crikey, ambulance 27 November 2007

There is, healthful as you know, hair both a time and a place for p-rn. The perversion is correctly served as an after dinner mint to the solitary patron by means of packet switching. Then, you clear your cache (oo err) and tell the missus you were checking the super fund.

The time and place for p-rn, according to Auberon Waugh, is never in Serious Literature. The late son of the great Evelyn was known and reviled in life as a posh todger. He was also, as it happens, one funny Tory. (He also wrote novels. I’ve had a look and they’re not much chop.)

As editor of The Literary Review, Waugh established the Bad S-x in Fiction awards in 1993. Before the droll dilettante died from good living, he passed the baton (oo err) on to a bloke called Robert Posner.

Now, I don’t know a great deal about Posner as I was never arsed to read the Review during his term as Waugh’s protégé. I have, however, spoken to him on a number of occasions. (Once, rather memorably, on national radio where he uttered the phrase “He came hard in her mouth.” I do so adore the posh.)

He is, as you’d expect from a smutty cultural conservative, quite charming and clever. And, as far as I know, retains his post as chief Bad S-x Critic for an awards ceremony that, last year, was presented by esteemed reviewer of fiction Courtney Love. I think it was at the Groucho Club. Probably.

At the time of writing, I am unable to locate Posner as he seems to often change his London address. But, I note, the longlist for my favourite literary award is here!

When I spoke to Posner this time last year, he repeated the Awards’ mission statement:

… to draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of s-xual description in the modern novel, and to discourage it.

And then, he came hard in my mouth.

This year we have Ian McEwan. And, apparently, the late Norman Mailer who described his “hound” as “soft as a coil of excrement.”

The thing about the Literary Review’s awards is that the pickings get slimmer every year. When Waugh started it, his aim was to stamp out those smutty passages he believed to be demanded by publishers and poorly enacted by authors in the genre (and it is a genre) “Literature”. He’s done very well.

Now, authors avoid the matter altogether or smirkingly compete to join a coterie that is, essentially, as posh as the Man Booker.

There are, it is said, those Literary authors who purpose build bad p-rn just for the fun of it. Unfortunately, when I spoke with him, Posner had never heard of The Bride Stripped Bare. Nonetheless, there is still bad s-x written by those who should know better.

My all time favourite longlister came (hard) in the (tumescent) form of Lovers and Strangers by David Grossman:

This wasn’t like the moans she had heard from thousands of others, but like someone suddenly recognizing something they had previously only heard about, like a boy who sees an airplane in the sky for the first time, not in a story-book, and he stands and cries out: Airplane, airplane!

Should anyone ever dare to look at me as though I were an Airbus A380, I imagine I’d become arid in an instant.

I’ll find Robert and when he has come hard in my mouth, I’ll conduct a proper interview.