Jonathan Littell beats off stiff competition at Bad Sex Awards
Turns out we were wrong in our Roth prediction — this year’s Bad Sex Award ended up going to Jonathan Littell for his novel The Kindly Ones. Other fancy-pants runners up included Paul Theroux, Nick Cave, Amos Oz, and John Banville. The judges said very nice things about Littell’s novel — which was originally published in French — calling it “in part a work of genius.” However, lines such as ”I came suddenly, a jolt that emptied my head like a spoon scraping the inside of a soft-boiled egg” clinched the award for The Kindly Ones. Perhaps it came off better in the original French? The award was presented at the — chortle chortle — In & Out (Naval & Military) Club in St James’s Square, London, where 400 guests congratulated themselves on being both highbrow and hilarious on the topic of sex.
In the winning passage (below), Littell is inspired by ancient mythology, to somewhat disastrous results. From The Kindly Ones:
Her vulva was opposite my face. The small lips protruded slightly from the pale, domed flesh. This sex was watching at me, spying on me, like a Gorgon’s head, like a motionless Cyclops whose single eye never blinks. Little by little this silent gaze penetrated me to the marrow. My breath sped up and I stretched out my hand to hide it: I no longer saw it, but it still saw me and stripped me bare (whereas I was already naked). If only I could still get hard, I thought, I could use my prick like a stake hardened in the fire, and blind this Polyphemus who made me Nobody. But my cock remained inert, I seemed turned to stone. I stretched out my arm and buried my middle finger into this boundless eye. The hips moved slightly, but that was all. Far from piercing it, I had on the contrary opened it wide, freeing the gaze of the eye still hiding behind it. Then I had an idea: I took out my finger and, dragging myself forward on my forearms, I pushed my forehead against this vulva, pressing my scar against the hole. Now I was the one looking inside, searching the depths of this body with my radiant third eye, as her own single eye irradiated me and we blinded each other mutually: without moving, I came in an immense splash of white light, as she cried out: ‘What are you doing, what are you doing?’ and I laughed out loud, sperm still gushing in huge spurts from my penis, jubilant, I bit deep into her vulva to swallow it whole, and my eyes finally opened, cleared, and saw everything.
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