By November 27, 2007 3 Comments Read More →

Norman Mailer Wins the Bad Sex

Norman Mailer may be gone, but he’s still winning literary awards. Actually, the timing’s pretty unfortunate on this one: he’s won The Literary Review‘s Bad Sex in Fiction Award, for a particularly, um, juicy passage from The Castle in the Forest. From the Associated Press, via the International Herald Tribune (“Late American novelist Norman Mailer wins Bad Sex in Fiction Award“):

The conception of Adolf Hitler was never going to make for easy reading. But late American novelist Norman Mailer’s explicit rendition of the incestuous encounter between the genocidal German dictator’s parents has won the writer one of the world’s most dubious literary prizes.

“We are sure that he would have taken the prize in good humor,” said the judges.

They would say that. Other nominees included: David Thewlis (The Late Hector Kipling), Jeanette Winterson (The Stone Gods), Richard Milward (Apples), Ali Smith (Girl Meets Boy), Gary Shteyngart (Absurdistan), Christopher Rush (Will), and Clare Clark (The Nature of Monsters). Actresses um, interpreted, the, er, dogeared pages at a ceremony in London. What I wouldn’t give to have been there.

The various news accounts have been a bit squeamish about quoting any passages at, ah, length, but let us fear no prose! Bloomberg blushes:

a passage so full of what Mailer calls “her most unmentionable part” and “his old battering ram” that we blush to repeat it here.

Reuters is braver:

The winning passage, which leaves little to the imagination, begins: “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.”

But the BBC is boldest:

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.

The Castle in the Forest isn’t part of Amazon’s Search Inside the Book program, more’s the pity. So hie thee to the library and scan their copy for discreet dogears or, perhaps, forgotten bookmarks.



About the Author:

Keir Graff is Executive Editor of Booklist Publications and the author of five books. His most recent is the middle-grade novel, The Other Felix (2011). Follow him on Twitter at @Booklist_Keir.

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