Quill and Quire

Awards

« Back to
Quillblog

Updike honoured for a lifetime of bad sex

Last week, Quillblog pointed to the Literary Review‘s shortlist of nominees for the annual Bad Sex Award. Rachel Johnson ended up taking the award “ a bottle of champagne and a plaster foot, which is apparently meant as “an abstract representation of sex.” Johnson, who said that she “always wanted to win a literary award,” was “honoured” for her novel Shire Hell:

“Johnson won for a passage in her satirical novel Shire Hell that describes a woman in the midst of a ‘mounting, Wagnerian crescendo’ wondering whether ‘the Spodders are, as requested, attending the meeting about slug clearance,'” said the magazine’s deputy editor, Tom Fleming. “Cats and moths also make metaphorical appearances.

“All the passages this year are equally awful, but Rachel Johnson’s struck us because of the mixture of cliché and euphemism. There were a couple of really bad animal metaphors in there.”

But Johnson was not the only award recipient of the night. In an unusual move, the judges also awarded American novelist John Updike, who has been shortlisted four consecutive times, a special lifetime achievement award for his closely observed descriptions of various sexual activities in his novels. He was nominated this year for The Widows of Eastwick, in part for the following extremely NSFW description of oral sex, quoted in The Guardian:

“She said nothing then, her lovely mouth otherwise engaged, until he came, all over her face. She had gagged, and moved him outside her lips, rubbing his spurting glans across her cheeks and chin,” he writes. “God, she was antique, but here they were. Her face gleamed with his jism in the spotty light of the motel room, there on the far end of East Beach, within sound of the sea.”

The judges from the Literary Review said they were attempting to contact Updike “to tell him the good news.”