From Amitav Ghosh to Tarun Tejpal: Here's the best, bad sex ever read ALOUD!
Remember how unerringly the dog-eared Harold Robbins book would fall open to the sexy bit? Those well-thumbed portions of Harold Robbins and Jackie Collins were a rite of passage for many a hormonal teenager. But it’s astonishing how the higher you go up the literary ladder, the trickier it becomes to get sex right. Given how much time we spend thinking about sex, it’s astonishing how difficult it often is to write about sex convincingly in literature. Many a literary luminary has ended up falling flat on his/her face getting a little too carried away with a sex scene. No wonder the annual Bad Sex in Fiction Awards instituted in 1993 have never been short of nominees. Two Indians have even been proud winners of the award.
It’s one thing however to read bad sex writing on the page. It’s quite another to read it aloud. Firstpost coaxed some well-known cultural figures into selecting their favourite overripe sex scenes from books they had read and reading them out for our listening pleasure.
Statutory Warning: The sections read are no comment on the literary worth of the book as a whole. Enjoy at your own risk.
Anuvab Pal: Flood of Fire by Amitav Ghosh
Anuvab Pal is an internationally renowned stand-up comedian, screenwriter, playwright, columnist and novelist. His publications include Chaos Theory, 1-888-Dial India and The President is Coming.
Deepti Kapoor: Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
A note from Deepti Kapoor: It actually became quite hard to pick anything; perhaps something I've never read, some sci-fi novel or 50 Shades of Grey, would have been gold-dust. But that would have been too easy. More interesting is the way that good writers and good books often momentarily fall apart when it comes to sex. It suggests a problem with sex and writing in general. Interestingly, this is rarely the case in movies. From Top Gun to Don't Look Now to Mr. Turner, sex works much better visually. So there's something about language and sex which seems incompatible.
The cases where sex writing really works, I find to be when the sex is not some punctuation mark or deviation from the rest of the work, but integral to it, so the language doesn't have to step out and alter itself. Writers like Pierre Guyotat, Dennis Cooper, Henry Miller, Bukowski, they handle it so well because the writing, to more or less an extent, is sex. Their entire works are suffused with desire or arousal. In Salter's A Sport and a Pastime, sex is pervasive, and so doesn't pull the reader out of the narrative. The best, and most painful, sex writing within a non-sex narrative, I think, has been in Ferrante, most likely because it's a forensic examination of pain and shame, rather than a description of penetration.
Anyway, in the end I picked Murukami, because his sex scenes are both jarring and clumsy. They trip everything up, and his usual surreal qualities lose their sheen. This one in particular has the simile 'wet like a rain forest', which is really quite unforgivable.
Deepti Kapoor’s debut novel is A Bad Character
Ruchir Joshi: Alchemy of Desire by Tarun Tejpal
Ruchir Joshi is a writer, filmmaker and columnist. He is also the editor of India’s first anthology of contemporary erotica Electric Feather: The Tranquebar Book of Erotic Stories.
Prajwal Parajuly: I am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe
Prajwal Parajuly is the author of the critically acclaimed books, The Gurkha’s Daughter and Land Where I Flee
Paromita Vohra: Bunker 13 by Aniruddha Bahal
Paromita Vohra is a filmmaker, writer and antakshari expert who works with fiction and non-fiction on themes of urban life, popular culture, feminism and desire.
Palash Krishna Mehrotra: Eunuch Park by Palash Krishna Mehrotra
Eunuch Park: Fifteen Stories of Love and Destruction was the debut collection of short stories by Palash Krishna Mehrotra. His latest book is The Butterfly Generation: A Personal Journey into the Passions and Follies of India’s Technicolour Youth
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