Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Sex–A Review Essay in The Tel Aviv Review of Books

Haim Watzman

The (deliberately) bad sex scenes in four modern Israeli novels reveal writers who play with and subvert expectations and conventions.

Bad sex makes good books. Let me put that on the table, or in the bedroom, or even on a grave, as in one of the four Hebrew novels I have come to praise in this essay. In our times, when works of fiction are expected to delve into the most intimate parts of their protagonists’ souls, bedclothes, and anatomies, and to provide at least one erotic episode to give a lift to all three, the ability to write a convincing and moving scene in which the sex act is portrayed as indifferent, unfulfilling, boring, or frustrated by impotence is the mark of a great and original talent.

I don’t mean to imply that sex is the central subject of Maya Arad’s All About Abigail (Kin’at Sofrot), Haim Be’er’s Their New Dreams (Halomoteihem Hahadashim), Eyal Megged’s Secrets and Betrayals (Sodot Uvgidot), and Sami Michael’s Water Kissing Water (Mayim Noshkim Lemayim). Avigayil Shalev (no, I’m not going to accept the Americanization of her first name), Alma Webber and Gidon Sorek, Solomon Rifkind, and Yosef have more important things at stake than orgasms. Love is just one example; another is that, in one way or another, they’re all frustrated novelists … continue reading at at the Tel Aviv Review of Books

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