When good writers go bad
Oh Morrissey, where did it all go wrong? How could the man who wrote the immortal lines “”If there’s something you’d like to try, ask me I won’t say no, how could I?” also be responsible for the (equally immortal, but for horribly different reasons) “the pained frenzy of his bulbous salutation extenuating his excitement as it smacked its way into every muscle of Eliza’s body except for the otherwise central zone.”
‘The otherwise central zone’? This doesn’t even make sense. It is a sentence of such utter confusion that the human brain shuts down and goes back to humming How Soon Is Now, in the hope that it will all just go away. I’m not even going to dignify ‘bulbous salutation’ with a response, the Guardian having already beaten me to it with their description of the entire sorry mess as ‘an unpolished turd of a book, the stale excrement of Morrissey’s imagination.’
Why is it that so many otherwise brilliant minds trip over themselves when it comes to writing sex scenes? It’s as if they revert to their thirteen year old embarrassed, goofy selves, making up for burning cheeks with long words and adjective abuse. Even award-winning authors are found guilty – Richard Flanagan’s ‘The Road To The North’ managed to both win the Booker Prize and be shortlisted for the Bad Sex Awards in the same year, for passages such as this:
“…he kissed the slight, rose-coloured trench that remained from her knicker elastic, running around her belly like the equator line circling the world.”
Ugh. Just…UGH. It took me three reads of that sentence to realise that what he’s actually talking about is that horrible ridge you get in your flesh when your pants are too tight. And there ain’t nothing sexy about pinchy pants, amiright?
It gets even worse when the author clearly has no confidence in what they’ve written. Anyone who saw Alan Titchmarsh’s toe-curlingly excruciating appearance on the Parkinson show many moons ago (I’ve tried and failed to find the link – basically poor Alan sat with a fixed grin on his face whilst examples of his incredibly awful sex scenes were read out to an audience of millions) knows – and I mean knows – that Alan is far happier plunging his hands into loam than he is diving into the world of fictional sex.
Whilst writing this post I trawled through some other contenders for the Bad Sex Awards. Can someone tell me what in the name of all that is holy Giles Coren was thinking when he swapped writing restaurant reviews for spewing out passages such as this?
“…she grabbed at his dick, which was leaping around like a shower dropped in an empty bath, she scratched his back deeply with the nails of both hands and he shot three more times, in thick stripes on her chest. Like Zorro.”Winkler, by Giles Coren
Shut up, Giles (and Alan, and Richard, and most of all Steven bloody Morrissey). Shut up shut up shut up, and leave sex scenes to those who can use proper, graphic descriptions without sounding like a public schoolboy’s wet dream.
Talking straight is way sexier than any attempt to talk cleverly, whether you’re in the bedroom or sat at a keyboard. Call a spade a spade and a cunt a cunt. Please.