lunedì 14 febbraio 2011

Good Sex Awards!

It turns out I translated two of the winners:

No. 4: Chang-rae Lee's "The Surrendered"

As Louis Bayard, one of the judges for Salon, puts it: "I liked the sensuality of Chang-Rae Lee's 'The Surrendered,' although it has a cinematic 'prettiness' to it."
Here's an excerpt:
"And then one night June could not help herself; she pulled back the blanket as if it were the frail leaf of an antique book. Her hands crept to Sylvie's throat, where her nightgown opened, and undid the mother-of-pearl buttons that ran down to the hem; she took them one by one, the near half of the nightgown falling away, exposing the whole length of Sylvie now to the cold night air. June touched the belly, grazed the lowest rib, the small, flattish breast no fuller than one of her own. The nipple pushed up between her fingers, as dense as clay, and without knowing what she was doing she put her mouth over it, closing her eyes. She couldn't breathe again, her heart as if collapsed in her chest, this tiny leaden node, poised for Sylvie to protest, to stir. But she did not. Nor did she when June's hand slid down and nestled in the burning cup of her long legs, not moving, nor stirring, neither wanting the other to wake."

... and No. 2: Jonathan Franzen's "Freedom" !
("Freedom" was also nominated for the Bad Sex in Fiction Award 2010)

Here the judges are more articulate:
Laura Miller: "...'Freedom'... [is] great at capturing the way an erotic experience can be shot through with ambivalence, as well as fleeting thoughts and feelings about unrelated stuff... the hurt and anger Walter feels towards his wife makes the much-anticipated tryst with his assistant less unequivocally thrilling than he hoped. It's more funny and wry than hot, but it's very true to that experience of the mind and heart racing to catch up while the body is charging full speed ahead."
Louis Bayard: "The Franzen excerpt very convincingly portrays a unique species of performance anxiety -- a man trying to have sex as good as he imagines his estranged wife is having. A doomed business from the start, with that sad and devastating finish: He comes in his lover's hand. Juvenility and senility in the same breath."
Maud Newton: "The Franzen scene was the most vivid and real of the ones we were given, and also the only one that... made me feel at all like having sex. I guess responses to people fucking in fiction are as inexplicable as attraction itself, so I'm not sure exactly what got me about the Franzen -- some combination of the details about her body and his desire, the activity and the gymnastics, and the narrator's intense arousal and weird dissociation, and maybe also... the idea of a guy going on for so long and being so into it but never coming. The contrasts between the girl and the wife are masterful, woven in beautifully."
Walter Kirn: " scenes with lots of awkward self-consciousness in them at least address the awkwardness and self-consciousness they engender. Still, it's a one-note accomplishment and, to me, the Hynes scene and the Franzen give the same feeling, basically, and transmit the same ironic message: We're most alone in our heads when we're supposedly merging as bodies. Got it."
And here's an excerpt:
"His emotions couldn't keep up with the vigor and urgency of their animal attraction, the interminability of their coupling. She needed to ride him, she needed to be crushed underneath him, she needed to have her legs on his shoulders, she needed to do the Downward Dog and be whammed from behind, she needed bending over the bed, she needed her face pressed against the wall, she needed her legs wrapped around him and her head thrown back and her very round breasts flying every which way. It all seemed intensely meaningful to her, she was a bottomless well of anguished noise, and he was up for all of it. In good cardiovascular shape, thrilled by her extravagance, attuned to her wishes, and extremely fond of her."

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