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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Books: Sex and Death Dept. -- Norman Mailer Wins Bad Sex Award Posthumously

Mailer acts out his award winning scene before his death

Our cousins across the pond at London's Literary Review this year have honored America's premier late man of letters Norman Mailer with their Bad Sex in Literature Award. He has good company -- Tom Wolfe blew a gasket when the Bad Sex award was one of the few awarded to his 2004 tome I Am Charlotte Simmons

Surprisingly this is the first time in the awards 15-year run that sex and death have been entwined so intimately. Here is Mailer's winning passage, which is uncomfortably similar to a drunken college-age rendezvous I once had with a Cornell pre-med: 

"Are you all right?' she cried out as he lay beside her, his breath going in and out with a rasp that sounded as terrible as the last winds of their lost children.

'All right. Yes. No,' he said. Then she was on him. She did not know if this would resuscitate him or end him, but the same spite, sharp as a needle, that had come to her after Fanni's death was in her again. Fanni had told her once what to do. So Klara turned head to foot, and put her most unmentionable part down on his hard-breathing nose and mouth, and took his old battering ram into her lips. Uncle was now as soft as a coil of excrement. She sucked on him nonetheless with an avidity that could come only from the Evil One - that she knew. From there, the impulse had come. So now they both had their heads at the wrong end, and the Evil One was there. He had never been so close before.

The Hound began to come to life. Right in her mouth. It surprised her. Alois had been so limp. But now he was a man again! His mouth lathered with her sap, he turned around and embraced her face with all the passion of his own lips and face, ready at last to grind into her with the Hound, drive it into her piety!"

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