A piece of astronomy

At the point where erotica turns into erratica, there’s the Literary Review’s Bad Sex prize, awarded for the most cringe-inducing love scene of the year. Manil Suri wins for this bit from The City of Devi:

Surely supernovas explode that instant, somewhere, in some galaxy. The hut vanishes, and with it the sea and the sands — only Karun’s body, locked with mine, remains. We streak like superheroes past suns and solar systems, we dive through shoals of quarks and atomic nuclei. In celebration of our breakthrough fourth star, statisticians the world over rejoice.

Unexpected contender: the late Woody Guthrie, whose 1947 novel House of Earth was finally published in 2013. This machine kills passion:

Back and forth, side to side, they moved on their bed on the hay. Back and forth, side to side, they moved their hips, their feet, their legs, their whole bodies. Their arms tied into knots like vines climbing trees, and the trees moved and swayed, and there was a time and a rhythm to the blend of the movement.

Of course, if there’s no rhythm … but let’s not go there. In fact, let’s not even acknowledge that “there” exists.


  1. fillyjonk »

    4 December 2013 · 2:36 pm

    I’m sorry, but that last one just makes me think of the bit from “Young Frankenstein”: “Roll, roll, roll in ze hay!”

  2. McGehee »

    5 December 2013 · 6:57 am

    I’m of the firm opinion that any actual description of the sex act while it’s happening, in writing, can either be anti-erotically technical, or pre-adolescently hilarious — with no middle ground possible.

    Far better to describe the prelude, and then the afterglow, and let the reader’s imagination take care of what went on between.

  3. Lynn »

    6 December 2013 · 8:12 am

    I guess I’m a little fuzzy on the definition of “bad” because that first one looks okay to me. But then I never read erotica, which is probably no surprise to anyone.

  4. SnoopyTheGoon »

    7 December 2013 · 4:59 am

    Still, for purely romantic value, I prefer that find:


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