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Posts Tagged ‘purple prose’

Portable People

October 22, 2015 | by

From the cover of Portable People, illustrated by Joe Servello.

Paul West, whom the New York Times once praised for his “unsettling nonuniformity,” died this week at eighty-five. An absurdist with a formidable, playful, idiosyncratic style—we become inured and have to be awakened by something intolerably vivid,” he wrote, defending purple proseWest published some fifty books of fiction, poetry, and memoir. He suffered two strokes later in life, which slowed him down but couldn’t deter his ingenuity with language. “He would come out of the bedroom and say, ‘Where’s my cantilever of light?,’ ” his wife, Diane Ackerman, told the Guardian. “I suppose you can only know that this means a velour tracksuit when you have been living with someone for four decades.”

The Review published nine of West’s stories, the first in our Summer 1971 issue. The excerpts below are from “Portable People,” a satire of John Aubrey’s Brief Lives from our Summer 1990 issue; later that year, Paris Review Editions published an expanded version of eighty-five “portable people” portraits, illustrated by Joe Servello. —D. P. Read More »

The Bad Sex in Fiction Award 2012: Shortlist

November 20, 2012 | by

The Literary Review has released the shortlist for the twentieth annual Bad Sex in Fiction Award. The nominees for achievement in terrible sex writing include:

  • The Yips, by Nicola Barker
  • The Adventuress, by Nicholas Coleridge
  • Infrared, by Nancy Huston
  • Rare Earth, by Paul Mason
  • Noughties, by Ben Masters
  • The Quiddity of Will Self, by Sam Mills
  • The Divine Comedy, by Craig Raine
  • Back to Blood, by Tom Wolfe
  • Mr. Wolfe, you will recall, is a previous winner, having taken top honors in 2004 for I Am Charlotte Simmons. He was deemed eligible for this year’s awards by dint of passages like the following:

    But then the tips of her breasts became erect on their own, and the flood in her loins washed morals, despair, and all other abstract assessments away in a cloud of some sort of divine cologne of his. Now his big generative jockey was inside her pelvic saddle, riding, riding, riding, and she was eagerly swallowing it swallowing it swallowing it with the saddle’s own lips and maw—all without a word.

    Bad, assuredly. But is it bad enough to take the prize? Find out on December 4. Until then, follow the process via @lit_review. (The tweets are tagged as #LRBadSex2012.)

    And for a glimpse into the judging process, check this out: