Yes, yes – the bad sex award. All very TITter-worthy and purient, and in many ways deserved : (Fustar takes pains to look at the Giles Coren bit). Nevertheless for all this jocularity, it does tend to ignore the fact that describing sex is actually quite HARD. You can go down the comparative line where your metaphors are like to crumble under the weight of their pretension. You can go crude and heavy on the slang, hello Irvine Welsh. You can get overtly biological: and treat the whole thing like a science experiment (use of word vagina nearly always signals this coldly clinical approach). Or just say “They fucked”.

There is something grand about hunting down the sex scenes in bonkbusters: Jackie Collins books are often bound to fall over at the pages where Lucky bites her lip til it bleeds to stop from moaning in ecstacy. But nevertheless the unwitting humour in these sequences (especially when taken out of context) is a little bit unfair. For all we know (and I am unlikely to read it) Giles Coren uses pop culture references for all of his characters actions in Winkler. Does ejaculating three thick stripes like Zorro really stand out if he also “chops carrots, his hands a blur. Like the Flash?” Or “He wore red underpants. Like Superman“. Or even “He suffered a mild anaphylactic reaction where parts of his body swelled uncontrollably whenever he ate spinach. Like Popeye.”

Sex is tricky to describe, and funny. But then lots of things are difficult to describe. A decent breathless action sequence in a book can, when broken down, make very little sense at all. Conversations in novels are not like they are in real life (why should sex be?) And have you ever sat down with a photofit when a character is being facially described?

The Brown Wedge