Morrissey's worst sex writing isn't in his novel

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Earlier this week the winner of Literary Review's annual Bad Sex in Fiction award, the most anticipated literary news of the season, was announced.


The winner was…Morrissey!

Congratulations, Morrissey! The English singer won for his (critically panned) novel List of the Lost, and, per the New York Times, this passage in particular:

At this, Eliza and Ezra rolled together into the one giggling snowball of full-figured copulation, screaming and shouting as they playfully bit and pulled at each other in a dangerous and clamorous rollercoaster coil of sexually violent rotation with Eliza’s breasts barrel-rolled across Ezra’s howling mouth and the pained frenzy of his bulbous salutation extenuating his excitement as it whacked and smacked its way into every muscle of Eliza’s body except for the otherwise central zone.


But while we praise Morrissey for his well-deserved win —he joins a list of past winners that includes Norman Mailer and Tom Wolfe— it's also worth noting that this isn't even Morrissey's worst sex writing! His lengthiest? Maybe. His most florid? Probably. His worst in published fiction? Definitionally, yes.

But his worst sex writing overall? Definitely not.

Morrissey has a long and storied musical career, both as the lead singer of The Smiths and on his own. During that time, he has written some truly awful lyrics about sex.

Consider "Kiss Me A Lot" off 2014's World Peace Is None of Your Business:

Kiss me a lot, kiss me a lot
Kiss me all over my face
Kiss me a lot, kiss me a lot
Kiss me all over the place
Kiss me a lot, kiss me a lot
Kiss me all over and then when you've kissed me
Kiss me all over again


And the always-creepy "Let Me Kiss You."

Close your eyes
And think of someone you physically admire
And let me kiss you, oh
Let me kiss you, oh

But then you open your eyes
And you see someone that you physically despise
But my heart is open
My heart is open to you


Or perhaps 1998's jangly "Let The Right One Slip In"

Ah … I will advise
Ah … Until my mouth dries
Ah … I will advise you to …

Ah … let the right one slip in
Slip in
Slip in

And when at last it does
I'd say you were within your rights to bite
The right one and say, "what kept you so long ?"
"What kept you so long ?"


Then there's the thinly euphemistic "Wide to Receive."

Download something
Useful, or useless
Because I'm lying here
Wide to receive
Almost anything
You'd care to give
And I don't
Get along with myself
And I'm not too keen
On anyone else
Turn on, plug in
Then just walk away
Unlock, process
Then just go
And I've never felt quite so alone
As I do right now


And the decidedly not euphemistic "Alsatian Cousin."

Were you and he lovers?
And if you were, then say that you were!
On a groundsheet
Under canvas
With your tent-flap
Open wide

A note upon his desk:
"P.S. Bring Me Home And Have Me!"
Leather elbows on a tweed coat
Is that the best you can do?

So came his reply:
"…but on the desk is where I want you!"
So I ask (even though I know):
Were you and he lovers?


In case you think I'm just offering up uncharitable readings of Morrissey's lyrics, or being a curmudgeon about thin use of metaphor, let's revisit the Smiths classic "Handsome Devil."

Let me get my hands
On your mammary glands
And let me get your head
On the conjugal bed
I say, I say, I say

I crack the whip
And you skip
But you deserve it
You deserve it, deserve it, deserve it

A boy in the bush
Is worth two in the hand
I think I can help you get through your exams
Oh you handsome devil


What does this prove? Maybe that Morrissey has just one or two settings when it comes to writing about sex; maybe that it's hard to write lyrics about sex if you're in a post-punk band. Regardless, while Morrissey may be getting more purple as he tries to work in prose, his sex writing isn't getting worse; it's just getting longer and a little more explicit.

The Times reports that Morrissey didn't attend the Tuesday night awards ceremony to receive his award. Probably busy writing more bad sex lyrics.


Ethan Chiel is a reporter for Fusion, writing mostly about the internet and technology. You can (and should) email him at

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