Tom Wolfe Wins Dreaded Bad Sex Prize

Posted on December 23, 2004

Britain's Literary Review horrified bestselling author Tom Wolfe when it announced last week that Wolfe had won the award that no writer wants to win, the Bad Sex Award. Wolfe won for some his love scenes in I Am Charlotte Simmons. The Globe and Mail reports that Wolfe has protested that the scenes in question were supposed to be ironic -- not erotic. Apparently, he succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. The winning passages included the following lovely bits: "Slither slither slither slither went the tongue," begins the love scene of his naive, virginal heroine. The scene continues: "But the hand, that was what she tried to concentrate on, the hand, since it has the entire terrain of her torso to explore and not just the otorhinolaryngological [ears, nose and throat] caverns -- oh God, it was not just at the border where the flesh of the breast joins the pectoral sheath of the chest -- no, the hand was cupping her entire right -- Now!"

Wolfe said of the cumbersome phrasing: "I purposely chose the most difficult scientific word I could to show this is not an erotic scene . . . there's nothing like a nine-syllable word to chase Eros off the premises." "It's certainly tasteless," adding, "There's an old saying -- 'You can lead a whore to culture but you can't make her sing.' In this case, you can lead an English literary wannabe to irony but you can't make him get it,"

He also disputed the magazine's statement that Wolfe was the only author to refuse to pick up the award. Wolfe responded: "They never invited me. I have not heard a word from them. Why don't they send me the invitation? Ask them how they wrote me. What form? Cleft stick?"

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