Is Sex Impossible to Capture on Paper?

To quote Woody Allen, “Pizza is a lot like sex. When it’s good, it’s really good. When it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.” Writer John Banville (he won the Booker Prize for his awesomely beautiful and lyrical novel The Sea back in 2005) would agree. And he goes one step further, saying that because of this, it’s impossible to write well about sex. Meaning: because men, at least, tend to enjoy most sex, no matter how bad it is, there is this inherent disconnect: they can’t write about it because they have no idea what just happened. Was it good, was it bad, was it the same-old-thing, was it earth-shattering? All they know is that they had an orgasm and it felt pretty cool. And as Tolstoy didn’t really say, good sex is all alike; all bad sex is bad in its own way. The latter is worth reading about; the former is just bad erotica.

“I am never quite sure what bad sex is,” Banville said in an interview with the U.K. newspaper The Telegraph. “I am not sure I that have ever any bad sex. It has always seemed to me wonderful. I always felt incredibly lucky that a woman would consent to engage with me in this extraordinary act.” He goes onto say, “What people feel they are doing is so discontinuous with what they are actually doing… The spectacle of sex is never very dignified, but when you are engaged in it it seems transcendently sublime.” Okay, so maybe the man can’t write sex scenes, but clearly he’s pretty freakin’ eloquent on the topic of sex! Man, we wish he’d at least try to write about sex.

So what do you think: Do women write better sex scenes than men? Does bad sex make for better writing than good sex? And what are some of your favorite sex scenes in literature?

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