2004 Bad Sex Award

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    Tom Wolfe wins bad sex award
    Passage in 'Charlotte Simmons' called 'ghastly'

    Monday, December 13, 2004 Posted: 4:06 PM EST (2106 GMT)

    LONDON, England (Reuters) -- American author and journalist Tom Wolfe won one of the world's most dreaded literary accolades on Monday -- the British prize for bad sex in fiction.

    The prize is awarded each year "to draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel."

    Wolfe won it for a couple of purple passages from his latest novel "I am Charlotte Simmons," a tale of campus life at an exclusive U.S. university.

    "Slither slither slither slither went the tongue," one of his winning sentences begins.

    "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 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!"

    Judges described Wolfe's prose as "ghastly and boring." Wolfe has said in interviews he intended the book's sexual descriptions to be dry and clinical.

    The former newspaper correspondent, whose debut novel "Bonfire of the Vanities" was a defining text of the 1980s, fought off stiff competition from 10 other authors, including South African Andre Brink, whose novel "Before I Forget" contains the following description of a woman's vulva:

    "(It was) like a large exotic mushroom in the fork of a tree, a little pleasure dome if ever I've seen one, where Alph the sacred river ran down to a tideless sea. No, not tideless. Her tides were convulsive, an ebb and flow that could take you very far, far back, before hurling you out, wildly and triumphantly, on a ribbed and windswept beach without end."

    Another writer who only narrowly escaped the prize was Britain's Nadeem Aslam for his novel "Maps for Lost Lovers," a tale of life in a Muslim community in an English town.

    "His mouth looked for the oiled berry," one of his raunchiest passages starts.

    "The smell of his armpits was on her shoulders -- a flower depositing pollen on a hummingbird's forehead," another reads.

    The winner of the award, organized by the London-based Literary Review, is given an Oscar-style statuette and a bottle of champagne -- but only if he or she comes to the awards ceremony in person.

    Organizers said Wolfe, who is based in New York, was the first writer in the 12-year history of the competition to decline his invitation.

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