Thursday, November 30, 2006

Bulging Trousers

Few things can be funnier or more entertaining than really good bad sex writing: robustly and lecherously purple, and valiantly, if somewhat unintentionally, hilarious. The shortlist for this year's Bad Sex in Fiction award (established by the Literary Review to celebrate truly cringe-worthy erotic writing and mark "the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel.") was impressive, but debut author Iain Hollingshead scooped up the prize for his novel Twenty Something, beating established writers including Irvine Welsh, Will Self, David Mitchell and American literary maverick Thomas Pynchon.

"I hope to win it every year," said a delighted Hollingshead (the prize's youngest-ever winner at 25), who received his award, a statuette and a bottle of champagne, from rock singer Courtney Love at a London ceremony. His use of clich├ęs and euphemisms, and his description of "bulging trousers", sealed the win, the judges said.

So, here, without further ado, is the incriminating passage (you will find the complete set of shortlisted extracts here):

She's wearing a short, floaty skirt that's more suited to July than February. She leans forward to peck me on the cheek, which feels weird, as she's never kissed me on the cheek before. We'd kissed properly the first time we met. And that was over three years ago.

But the peck on the cheek turns into a quick peck on the lips. She hugs me tight. I can feel her breasts against her chest. I cup my hands round her face and start to kiss her properly, She slides one of her slender legs in between mine. Oh Jack, she was moaning now, her curves pushed up against me, her crotch taut against my bulging trousers, her hands gripping fistfuls of my hair. She reaches for my belt. I groan too, in expectation. And then I'm inside her, and everything is pure white as we're lost in a commotion of grunts and squeaks, flashing unconnected images and explosions of a million little particles.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

100 Years of Solitude

1. This is really just my own Blogger's 100. The contents of this post has almost nothing to do with the title.

2. I have an irrational and extreme fear of birds. I sometimes try to explain it by saying that I was attacked by a herd of swans who knocked me down to the ground and tried to peck my eyes out when I was a toddler.

3. I enjoy popping bubble wrap way more than I should.

4. When I was an infant my aunt used to have a dog called Katie and I have been told that I used to feed her (the dog, not my aunt) fistfuls of dirt. I don't remember any of this.

5. I have attended six different pre, elementary, and middle schools.

6. I am mediocre at many things. I think I would rather be really good at just one.

7. I have wet my bed exactly once as an adult.

8. I have been told a few times that I was found sleepwalking.

9. Driving, shaving, and shopping are the three things I hate most in life. And maybe having to wake up early in the morning.

10. I have never owned a house in my life and I am occasionally worried that I will become homeless when I am old.

11. All four of my grandparents are dead. I remember three of them fairly well. My mother's father passed away before I could have precise memories of him.

12. I have the worst allergies in the history of the Universe. My eyes are always watery, I have extreme anosmia, and I cannot remember the last time I could freely breathe through my nose. This is really unfortunate because, of the five senses, smell is my most favorite.

13. I am fluent in three languages: English, Bengali, and Hindi. I also know a smattering of words and phrases in Tamil and Japanese.

14. I find it physically extremely difficult, actually almost impossible, to cry. I remember crying just once due to an emotional reason in my entire adult life. However, I will easily sob at the movies, or while reading a book, or sometimes even listening to a particularly evocative piece of music.

15. I have a friend who used to say that tapioca is better than sex. But he was single then and may have changed his mind since.

16. I don't drink alcohol and drink very little soda. I don't smoke tobacco.

17. I believe that one has to be cleansed of all earthly desire before one can move to the next level after death. This means that you will get to indulge every single one of your unfulfilled fantasies in the afterlife.

18. I am not entirely tech savvy. I don't own an iPod or a digital camera, and my car does not have a CD player.

19. Many of my friends tell me secrets they would not easily tell anyone else.

20. I am excruciatingly self conscious. That's why I almost never sing or dance in public.

21. It is not at all easy to hurt me or make me angry, but I can hold a grudge forever if I am indeed actually provoked.

22. I adore children and am very good with them, but I am not certain if I want any of my own.

23. I think I would enjoy being a stand up comic or a movie director or have my own late night show on television.

24. My favorite cuisine would have to be Thai or Malaysian. I like Indonesian and Burmese food too.

25. I find it difficult to truly enjoy most things if I cannot share them with my friends.

26. I was born in the city that is now called Kolkata and grew up in various small towns. I have also briefly lived in Tokyo and the city that is now called Chennai.

27. I have lost contact with most of my high school classmates.

28. My coworkers and I frequently play the 'would you rather' game with death not being an option.

29. I can browse for days in a good bookstore. For the longest time, that was my idea of heaven.

30. Reading an elaborate recipe will usually lift my spirits if I am depressed.

31. I don't lie very often. I feel that lying requires a lot more effort than just telling the truth and sticking to it.

32. I find physical positions in which I lose my balance deeply unsettling. That is why I get sick on roller coasters and cannot do any inversion poses. My yoga teacher once told me that this is probably because of an experience in a previous life.

33. I think it's perfectly alright to ask for a doggy bag in a restaurant, even if one doesn't have a dog.

34. I cannot whistle or do a somersault, and this will occasionally upset me a lot.

35. I believe that I am anti-photogenic. There isn't a single photograph of myself that I like.

36. When dining out with a group of close friends, I would rather order family style than get individual entrees.

37. I love to cook, but not just for myself.

38. I like taking afternoon naps, but I feel very melancholy if it is already getting dark when I wake up.

39. I enjoy eating almost everything, but for the last couple years I have been making a conscious effort to cut down on meat and eat more vegetables.

40. I sometimes feel that some people take advantage of me.

41. I am quite fond of a good bargain. I may be persuaded to buy something that I don't really need if the price is attractive enough.

42. Every now and then I will have a strong desire to just quit everything and go work at the post office or at a grocery store or at the library.

43. Till recently, I was naive enough to secretly believe that all great artists and authors are also wonderful people. But then, I also believed that love was more important than sex.

44. My coworker Louise has a tiny little Michel Foucault finger puppet fridge magnet and I think it's the coolest thing ever.

45. If I ever went back to school again, I would probably want to study linguistics or social and cultural anthropology or cognitive sciences.

46. There have been a few times in my life when I have narrowly escaped almost certain disfigurement, and these moments haunt me constantly. I would strongly prefer death to becoming physically dependent on someone.

47. I once poured a cup of boiling oil on my hand by mistake. The scars have almost vanished now, but you can still see them if you look really closely and know where to look.

48. I don't remember having a favorite toy as a child. I think I was way more into books than toys in any case.

49. While I was often a very enthusiastic participant, I was never actually any good at any sport growing up.

50. Right now, I cannot even imagine my life without a cell phone or the Internet.

51. When I am driving alone I prefer to listen to talk radio, usually NPR.

52. While growing up in India I would listen to a lot of British and American pop songs, but now I almost exclusively listen to Indian music.

53. I am extremely clumsy. None of my movements are naturally graceful. (I suspect I am socially somewhat clumsy too.)

54. I believe luck is quantized; be careful how you use it because you only get so much. Good and bad luck cancel each other out.

55. I often try to be tongue-in-cheek with a straight face. Sometimes I succeed.

56. My first real relationship was a complicated, protracted, and painful affair. We no longer speak to each other.

57. I have had light crushes on some of my teachers in high school and seniors and classmates in college.

58. I expect my lover to know exactly what I want without my ever having to say a single word. Of course I also realize that this is impossible.

59. I don't believe in saying 'I love you'. I feel that having to actually say it completely defeats the purpose in the first place. The fact that I love you should be abundantly clear from my behavior, and not from my speech. Ditto for sorry. And thank you.

60. I have a burning man poster in my bedroom and a Marc Chagall print (an office-warming present) at work. That's all.

61. Every time I visit a University campus I come away depressed for days, with a strong feeling that I am trifling away my life.

62. I watch very little television, but if I had to watch only one channel it would have to be the food network.

63. I am deeply and constantly in awe of women. I cannot even imagine going through pregnancy and childbirth.

64. Even though I have many good friends, I think I am a loner at heart.

65. Cruelty towards animals and the elderly enrage and depress me.

66. I am fond of Junior Mint candies and Milky Way Midnight bars. I also like Jelly Belly jellybeans. Juicy pear is one of my favorite flavors.

67. Seems like at any given point half the people in my life feel that I am too enthusiastic, and the other half feel that I am not enthusiastic enough.

68. I suck at ironing clothes. That is why I only wear jeans and tee shirts.

69. I can never say the word immediate entirely to my own satisfaction.

70. I always feel that I am talking too loudly when I am on the phone.

71. I am overly fond of making lists, probably much more than I should be. Even though I realize the innate futility of limiting my favorite movies, or books, or songs to just 10, or 15, or 20, I often feel oddly compelled to do so.

72. I usually don't have too much trouble falling asleep. Waking up is not always as easy though.

73. I can make a popping sound using my right index finger and my right ear that some of my friends find entertaining and amusing.

74. People who are constantly completely indecisive irritate me; however, people who always know exactly and precisely what they want intimidate me too.

75. I have road rage. A lot of it. I use profanity and a hand signal involving a certain finger all too often while driving.

76. I have never formally learned to swim, but I can manage to stay afloat by randomly thrashing my limbs every which way in the water.

77. I am severely directionally challenged; it took me more than a year to figure out that San Francisco was north and San Jose was south, and not too long ago I left work in the peninsula one evening to go back home to the south bay but drove into downtown San Francisco by mistake.

78. A friend once told me that he had seen me in a serious mood only once in his entire lifetime, and that was right before our Linear Algebra final exam in college.

79. I have gone kayaking in New Zealand and dog sled riding in Alaska.

80. I absolutely adore the ellipsis and tend to italicize words far more than I probably should...

81. I have an occasional tendency, especially when talking with strangers, to speak almost entirely in impromptu and half-baked aphorisms that I make up on the spur of the moment. A recent example: Oftentimes people insist on a decision when they should be happy with just a possibility.

82. I am inordinately fond of blue cheese. My friend Ryan makes a cornbread crust pizza with Romanesco broccoli topping and blue cheese in every bite that is completely out of this world and to die for.

83. I have, on multiple occasions, been on the verge of complete panic thinking that my car was stolen, when, in reality, I was simply looking for it in the wrong part of the parking lot or even the wrong street.

84. I often wish I had the courage to drop everything and take a year off to see the world.

85. One Halloween, faced with a street full of enthusiastic trick-or-treaters and no candy at home, I turned all the lights out and pretended to be away for the whole evening.

86. I am rather fond of watching James Bond movies. However, I consider them to be somewhat of a guilty pleasure, and would be quite embarrassed to publicly admit that I enjoy them.

87. I was once at a Christmas party that went on till almost new year's day because no one wanted to leave.

88. A couple years ago my then room mates and I decided to go without television for a year, and now I don't miss it at all. (Of course I do have a set for watching movies on DVD or VHS, and the occasional late night Family Guy or Futurama rerun.)

89. I often listen to npr's Song of the Day while at work. (Thankfully, my office mate seems to enjoy it too, and hasn't complained yet.)

90. I try to go to the gym a couple times every week, but I don't enjoy it at all, so it helps that my room mate and I workout together.

91. When I was in elementary school, all of the students were chosen to be extras in a fairly big budget Bollywood movie. For about a week we had no classes; we would travel to location every day, and have to lip-synch with the stars as they sang. As far as I can remember, the picture, when it came out, didn't do very well at all.

92. I am usually always reading a couple books at the same time; that way, I can keep switching between them, and I actually end up finishing them much faster than if I just read them back to back.

93. Even when I know exactly what to get, I always end up spending way too much time just browsing at the video rental store. Or the book store, for that matter.

94. I am not sure if complex thoughts are possible without language.

95. I will very occasionally urinate in the shower if the urge is just too great and I cannot be bothered to dry off and walk to the toilet.

96. I often enjoy (and look forward to) the previews that precede the feature presentation more than the movie itself.

97. Even when things turn out really well, I am faintly dissatisfied that they didn't happen in some other way. The white noise from all the alternate realities are forever distracting me.

98. My fingers are not even the lightest shade of green. I feel that a plant left solely in my care would almost certainly wither and die.

99. I will sometimes turn the subtitles on when I am watching a DVD (even when I know the language the movie is in) so that I don't miss any of the dialogue.

100. This must make me some kind of a pathetic loser, but coming up with a hundred things about myself has been far more difficult than I had imagined it would be. It has taken me precisely 126 days to complete this post (and much of it was written while I was at work), but now I am done!