'Bad Sex' or None at All: King's Dallas Novel Nominated for Dubious Honor

Categories: Books, Film and TV

King's New Novel Gives Us Sexual PTSD. And, Not the Good Kind.
Stephen King made a rare appearance at the 6th Floor Museum recently, touting his new novel, 11/22/63, which was nominated last week for an annual Bad Sex in Fiction Award by the Literary Review.

We understand that bad sex might not be the only reasonable gripe about King's Kennedy-era thriller, but it does seem a bit unfair to place this kind of standard on the writer who brought us the greatest love story of all time, Misery . Unless we're missing something, King doesn't exactly deal in bodice-ripping, tongue baths so much as ankle-cracking obsession. That said, the fact that King isn't a Harlequin romanticist isn't an excuse for poor writing, and the hilarious passage that secured his nomination is one of the worst we've seen in awhile.

But, bad literature is like bad sex: you need to have a little gag-inducing prose in order to know what's good, right? Besides, that's what high school is for. Twilight and premature ejaculation.

Speaking of awful teenage sex always brings us to one of our favorites, north Texan Larry McMurtry's 1966 unsung manifesto, The Last Picture Show, an homage to emotional-interruptus and blue ... feelings. Better known for his Pulitzer Prize winning Lonesome Dove, McMurtry's early career far outshines his most recent efforts, and he is one of a truly rare breed of writers whose good work translates well to screen, as seen in Peter Bogdanovich's 1971 film version. See the iconic full-frontal "swimming pool scene" in the oh-so NSFW clip after the jump:

McMurtry's heartbreaking story of small town Texas is replete with disappointing first times, a raunchy trip to Tijuana and a mousy forty-year-old housewife who experiences her tender sexual awakening with one of her deeply-closeted husband's high school students. It's bad sex. It's good sex. It's great writing.

Discovering The Last Picture Show is a bookish young Texan's rite of passage, and it prompted us to ask, what's your favorite literary sex scene? Steamy, funny or just sad, leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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Jerome Weeks
Jerome Weeks

"Unsung manifesto"??? It was made into a fine film, still one of the best Texas-based Hollywood movies. Don Graham included a chapter from it in his anthology, Lone Star Literature. How 'unsung' can it be?


Off the top of my head, for best, "For The Whom Bell Tolls" or "Midshipman's Hope."

Brentney Hamilton
Brentney Hamilton

You make a great point; I was stuck thinking primarily of things that are or will be taught in (college) classrooms. I've never thought McMurtry gets his due in the academic world. But, then again, that could have something to do with cheesy efforts like Loop Group.

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