November 28, 2007

"Ready at last to grind into her with the Hound, drive it into her piety."

Norman Mailer wins the Bad Sex in Fiction Award.

The idea of the award is "to draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel, and to discourage it." But I do think they confuse good writing about bad sex with bad writing. Mailer was writing about Adolf Hitler, so he must have meant the act to seem ugly. This conflation of bad sex and bad writing was really obvious in 2004 when they gave the award to Tom Wolfe a passage in "I Am Charlotte Simmons":
Wolfe's third novel is set in an imaginary elite Ivy League university and is seen through the eyes of his eponymous heroine - a shy, virginal country girl who is initially shocked by the decadence and excess she encounters. Wolfe spent four years roaming the campuses of America's top universities researching the novel and claimed in a Guardian interview that "I have tried to make the sex un-erotic. I will have failed if anyone gets the least bit excited. So much of modern sex is un-erotic, if erotic means flight of fancy or romantic build-up."
I've read that book, and Wolfe did exactly what he says he meant to do.

Nevertheless, bad sex or bad writing, the chosen passages are quite hilarious.

41 comments:

George said...

Respect must be given Mailer.

Once upon a time, Mailer had it, and he wrote...

Every time one sees a bad television show, one is watching the nation get ready for the day when a Hitler will come. . . The show prepares fascism because it is a meretricious art and so sickens people a little further. Whenever people get collectively sick, the remedy becomes progressively more violent and hideous.

The citizens of a technological society are as powerless as an oriental peasant. They command less and less; they are manipulated more and more. They may think they are picking their channel, but TV channels them.

Civilization came out of man’s terror at having to face dread as a daily condition.

Love is something you get after you’ve solved enough of your problems so that something in Providence itself takes pity on you. . . Everybody prays for love, but once they get love, they have to be worthy of it.

We’re now in terrible trouble because we’re getting to the point where we are destroying our culture at a much greater rate than we are creating it.

There is a time when an ambitious type should fight his way through the jungle and up the mountain--it is the time when experience is rich and you can learn more than you will ever again, but if it goes on too long, you can wither from the high tension, you drop away drunk or a burned-out brain, you learn what it is to lose seriously in love, or how it goes when your best friend and you are no longer speaking; it is inevitable that a bad fall comes to the strong-willed man who is not strong enough to reach his own peak.

And she gave me a sisterly kiss. Big sister.

For heroism often gives life to a creation, which is bound and determined to kill the hero. Ultimately a hero is a man who would argue with the gods, and so awaken devils to contest his vision. The more a man can achieve, the more he may be certain that the devil will inhabit a part of his creation.

The first art work in an artist is the shaping of his own personality.

There was that law of life, so cruel and so just, which demanded that one must grow or else pay more for remaining the same.

Quotes are all from Mailer's pre-1970s essays...

Rest quiet, old man.

Methadras said...

I wonder if reading about bad sex is as bad as having bad sex?

Trooper York said...

Nothing is as bad as when she is reading during sex.

Trooper York said...

Well it was the kama sutra so maybe that doesn't count.

Trooper York said...

The one with the butterfly and the dragon was very hard on the knees.

Trooper York said...
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Trooper York said...

We have been experimenting with the interlocking NY like the Yankee cap, but I think only Michael Kay could get that right.

Trooper York said...

If you want to have sex in the name of a sports team, we have to get a team named the 69er's. Maybe a New Orleans team can change names. The 76er's would be too complicated to choreograph. And of course the 49er's would only be for gay sex, so that would kind of limit it for general usage. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Trooper York said...

Now you can decide what kind of animal you want to be in the sack.
Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh my!!!

Trooper York said...

When you are looking to hook up in a bar, you generally want a lady who is fly like an eagle. Just don’t tell her you want to show her the pompatus of love. She will just tell you to buzz off because she doesn’t want to party like it’s 1979.

Trooper York said...

When you tell your woman you want to do it the “Cowboy Way”, just hope she isn’t old enough to remember how Roger Staubach would run the two minute drill.

Trooper York said...
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Trooper York said...

When you doing some big game hunting at the club, pass the Jaguars on by and concentrate on the cougars. Especially if they are from Carolina

Trooper York said...

You do have to be careful if your girl tells you she's a Patriot. You know how they act. Bill Belichick might end up with your game films. That's how the Giant's receptionist ended up with a Brownstone in Park Slope.

Trooper York said...

Now what the hell is a devil ray. I think it's a big bat-like fish. Who wants to name their team after a bat fish. Not sexy. If they wanted to be sexy, they could have been called the Tampa Bay Ray Charles. Now Ray was one horny mofro. They asked one of his backup singers how a girl could became a "Raylet." She said "It's simple, let Ray."

Trooper York said...

Now some cities think it is cool to name their teams after their sox. Red or White. Anyway you slice it, you still have a team named after laundry. Although the Sox did win this year. Hat's off to them. Nice haircut there Manny. 78 days to pitchers and catchers. (That's not what you think it means Titus).

Trooper York said...

You can name your team after a bird if you think that is sexy. Blue Jays, Orioles, Seahawks and Eagles are all pretty cool. And if you name your team after a cardinal, at least it's the one that will let the altar boys alone.

Trooper York said...

Hey where is everybody. I think they are all watching the debate. I feel like Will Smith. I guess I will have to sleep in the bathtub with a German Sheppard. (That's not a sex comment by the way).

Trooper York said...

Now the Green Bay Packers are the pride of the Professor's home state. I used to play in a bar softball league in Central Park. The Ramrod on Christopher Street had a team named the Packers. I just think they packed something else. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Trooper York said...

What does this nonsense have to do with Norman Mailer. I don't know much about Mr. Mailer, I just know that he is Rudy Giuliani's favortite author. But I think that is just because he stabbed his second wife.

Trooper York said...

Wow, I just went over to the debate thread, I am glad I'm hiding out over here.

Trooper York said...

Maybe they should use a format like "Dancing with the Stars." But I guess that would make Fred Thompson the Marie Osmond candidate. Not Mitt even if he is a Mormon cause he's way too pretty. Fred has Marie’s jowls so the resemblance is really striking. I bet he does a mean tango

Trooper York said...

Thats enought of this for one night. Seacrest Out!!!!

(Not that there's anything wrong with that).

Trooper York said...

There is no "I" in team and no "t" in enough. I should quit while I am ahead.

reader_iam said...

Jeez, Trooper, come already, willya?

reader_iam said...

Note: While that may be the closest to smutty I've ever written on this blog, believe you me, it was the cleanest of the several comebacks that spontaneously sprang up.

downtownlad said...

All straight sex is bad sex.

Trooper York said...

Reader_iam you are a dirty bird.

Trooper York said...

The debate thread was just too too boring and the Fabio thread was just too too easy. It's hard to be funny when you have to juxtapose Norman Mailer and sex. Sorry if it wasn't entertaining enough for you. I will try to do better.

reader_iam said...

Oh, now, Trooper, don't go all flaccid on me. I was only teasing.

reader_iam said...

Wanna join me in warbling "I Will Survive"?

You too, DTL.

; )

Trooper York said...

No problem baby, I knew you were joking, but throwing a little guilt out there is always good for a little make-up yabba dabba do.
Gotcha!

Trooper York said...
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Trooper York said...

Plus they have pills for that. Not that I would know anything about that, it's just that I heard talk.

Trooper York said...

Plus I am half Irish. Going flaccid and drinking Guiness is my birthright.

Trooper York said...

A woman walks into the police station and says "Help me, help me I was raped by an Irish guy." "How do you know it was an Irish guy."
"I had to help him."

Trooper York said...

Now to bring it full circle, was that bad sex or bad writing.

rcocean said...

Trooper,

I didn't know you were doing standup over here. I was watching the debate.

Some good stuff.

Becky Jo said...

Excuse me? You read "I Am Charlotte Simmons"? You, Ann, who never read fiction? No wonder you dislike novels so much. "I Am Charlotte Simmons" is among the biggest (literally and figuratively) wastes of time in decades.

Ann Althouse said...

I don't say I never read fiction. In the last year or so I've read, "Charlotte Simmons," "A Spot of Bother," "The Stranger," "Cat's Cradle," and few other things, but I read much more nonfiction.

rishigajria said...

The bad sex writing award needs to go to Peter Griffin for his book - The Hot Chick who was Italian or maybe some kind of Mexican. Its full of bad writing about wanting to do chicks.