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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Bad Sex In Fiction Awards cancelled due to abundant badness

Illustration for article titled Bad Sex In Fiction Awards cancelled due to abundant badness
Photo: wakila (Getty Images)

It’s one of life’s simplest, funniest, most bewildering pleasures: Literary Review’s Bad Sex In Fiction Awards. Year in and year out, this annual event brings us throbbing members, swollen mounds, allusions to train tunnels and outer space, dubious meditations on female anatomy, and proliferate of use of the word “seed.” This year, not so, as its judges have “after weeks of deliberation” and a hopefully hilarious emergency meeting, decided to cancel this year’s awards. The reason: 2020 sucked enough as it is, and no one should have to endure mixed metaphors about jism, too.

Here’s Literary Review’s official word on the decision:

The judges felt that the public had been subjected to too many bad things this year to justify exposing it to bad sex as well. They warned, however, that the cancellation of the 2020 awards should not be taken as a licence to write bad sex. A spokesperson for the judges commented:

“With lockdown regulations giving rise to all manner of novel sexual practices, the judges anticipate a rash of entries next year. Authors are reminded that cybersex and other forms of home entertainment fall within the purview of this award. Scenes set in fields, parks or back yards, or indoors with the windows open and fewer than six people present will not be exempt from scrutiny either.”

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That is a pretty spectacular official statement, we must say. Yet we cannot deny that the cancellation of the 2020 Bad Sex In Fiction Awards due to too many bad things is itself an additional Bad Thing. So, as a treat, let’s revisit some Bad Sex of yore. Here’s one of last year’s joint winners, from John Harvey’s Pax:

She was burning hot and the heat was in him. He looked down on her perfect black slenderness. Her eyes were ravenous. Like his own they were fire and desire. More than torrid, more than tropical: they two were riding the Equator. They embraced as if with violent holding they could weld the two of them one.

And here’s a brief excerpt from what is apparently one of many lengthy award-worthy passages in James Frey’s Katerina:

I’m hard and deep inside her fucking her on the bathroom sink her tight little black dress still on her thong on the floor my pants at my knees our eyes locked, our hearts and souls and bodies locked.Cum inside me.

Cum inside me.

Cum inside me.

Blinding breathless shaking overwhelming exploding white God I cum inside her my cock throbbing we’re both moaning eyes hearts souls bodies one.

One.

White.

God.

Cum.

Cum.

Cum.

I close my eyes let out my breath.

Cum.

I lean against her both breathing hard I’m still inside her smiling. She takes my hands lifts them and places them around her body, she puts her arms around me, we stay still and breathe, hard inside her, tight and warm and wet around me, we breathe. She gently pushes me away, we look into each other’s eyes, she smiles.

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We may be bummed about this cancellation, it’s not hard to understand the judge’s reasoning. In a year in which the vast majority of us have seen things get really, really shitty, it’s just not as much fun to dunk on anyone who isn’t Rudy Giuliani (or of his ilk). While the judges claim to have been thinking of their readership when making this decision, it’s not unreasonable to assume that they didn’t relish jumping up and down on authors who already had to deal with the stress and surreality of releasing a book in this god-awful year. They’re not alone in that decision, either. We here at The A.V. Club, for example, won’t be publishing a Worst Of The Year list in the Film section, for similar reasons. Others will continue—we’re still doing a worst list for Great Job Internet, and it was recently announced that yes, the Razzies will still happen in time to directly address Glenn Close’s Hillbilly Elegy wig.

But this decision by the BSIF Awards’ judges seems especially sound. After all, as they point out, we’re likely to get an avalanche of bad sex writing next year.

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Contributor, The A.V. Club and The Takeout. Allison loves TV, bourbon, and overanalyzing social interactions. Please buy her book, How TV Can Make You Smarter (Chronicle, 2020). It’s short!

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