Last fall, I wrote a column about the Bad Sex in Fiction Award presented annually by the Literary Review in Britain. "No one raises an eyebrow if you talk about what doesn't strike you as erotic," I kvetched, suggesting that praising good depictions of sex would require a lot more nerve. Writing well about sex -- one of life's most delightful and important activities -- is difficult, so instead of sneering and sniggering at the authors who get it wrong, why not celebrate the ones who succeed?
Several of our readers asked that we step up and do just that, and so Salon's first annual Good Sex Award was born. We canvassed a cross section of our literary friends, asking them to recommend favorite passages about sex in works of fiction published in 2010. After whittling those suggestions down to eight, we enlisted a panel of four judges -- Maud Newton, Walter Kirn, Louis Bayard and myself -- for the solemn task of selecting the winner.
Until Monday, we'll be publishing two of those excerpts per day (on Sunday we will be publishing just the runner up), with the winner appearing on Valentine's Day, along with comments from our judges. And yes, the scheduling is a little bit cheesy, but look at it this way: There isn't a single dopey double-entendre in this entire introduction, which ought to make up for it.