Book aficionado Maris Kreizman wrote this piece for The Cut just in time for your mid-summer vacation...
The horniest men in literature aren’t necessarily the ones having the most sex; they’re just the ones who think about it the most. They tend to obsess, to fantasize, and to think with their dicks rather than other body parts. Love them or hate them, these men remind us that horniness can be a defining character trait used for good — but mostly for evil.
1. Nino Sarratore – The Neapolitan novels by Elena Ferrante
If the protagonist of Shaggy’s “It Wasn’t Me” was a scholar with a ton of unpaid child support, he’d be Nino Sarratore. The main love interest in Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels is horny as hell, and he’s not afraid to blame his shitty behavior on it: “Nino often undertook long, very cultured monologues in which he tried to convince me that it wasn’t his fault but that of nature, of astral matter, of spongy bodies and their excessive liquids, of the immoderate heat of his loins — in short, of his exorbitant virility.” Nino is horny to think big thoughts, hear himself talk, and, oh yeah, also stick his dick in just about everything.
2. Alexander Portnoy – Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth
Philip Roth never received his Nobel Prize for Horniness, but teenager Alexander Portnoy still remains one of his most iconic creations.
Here, in one of the greatest moments in literature, we have our young hero fucking an apple (among other things): “‘Oh shove it in me, Big Boy,’ cried the cored apple that I banged silly on that picnic. ‘Big Boy, Big Boy, oh give me all you’ve got,’ begged the empty milk bottle that I kept hidden in our storage bin in the basement, to drive wild after school with my vaselined upright.”
3. Elio Perlman – Call Me by Your Name by Andre Aciman
Speaking of teenage boys boning fruit, Elio of Call Me by Your Nameis way more charming and worldly than Portnoy, but just as horny. He invents the word “apricock” — the horniest portmanteau in all of literature — to describe both the lushness of fruit and his growing desire for the man staying with his family over the summer. Although he does eventually fuck a peach, his horniness is ultimately reciprocated. “You’ll kill me if you stop, you’ll kill me if you stop,” he cries as they make love, something only the most emo of horndogs could ever say.
4. Rob – High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
This fucking guy. Sometimes horniness is all about obsession, about paying excessive attention to details and about how all of the things you interact with make you feel. Rob’s quirky hobby is to make lists ranking everything, which includes the women he knows right along with the music and movies he worships. As Rob explains, “Records have helped me to fall in love, no question. I hear something new, with a chord change that melts my guts, and before I know it I’m looking for someone, and before I know it I’ve found her.” His is the most masturbatory kind of horniness: he’s in love with his own records, his own sadness, his own arrested development, his own self-deprecating loser-dom.
5. Ishmael – Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
Yes, we all know that it’s Captain Ahab who yearns for a particular white whale, but it’s his observer, Ishmael, who tells Ahab’s story in its distinctive fashion. A seaman with seemingly encyclopedic knowledge about whales and the whale trade and whale art, Ishmael takes us on long digressions about bones and sperm oil and whale teeth that do not move the plot forward in the slightest bit. It’s almost as if Ishmael is just as much horny for Dick as his captain is.
6. The narrators – The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
The pubescent boys who narrate The Virgin Suicides in the first person plural are like a Greek chorus of horniness. Their collective obsession with five beautiful sisters stays with them well into adulthood, given that the Lisbon girls are the most mysterious wonders of the world and (not much of a spoiler) they meet a tragic ending. The boys piece together a story about them by reading their diaries and spying on them; they communicate by playing records over the phone. “We knew, finally” they say, “that the girls were really women in disguise, that they understood love and even death, and that our job was merely to create the noise that seemed to fascinate them.” Or was it the other way around?
7. Count Dracula – Dracula by Bram Stoker
Whether he’s stalking ladies for their blood or feeding them his own blood to roofie and then hypnotize them, Count Dracula wants it all the time. The thirstiest man in literature has hobbies that include architecture, shape-shifting, and turning virtuous Victorian ladies into wanton sex fiends. The vampire’s bloodlust has inspired many scholarly papers: What does the blood symbolize? What could Dracula really be after? If you look at the Count’s successors, from Anne Rice’s Lestat to Stephenie Meyer’s Edward, the key defining trait is clear: Utter, insatiable horniness.
8. The Members of Mötley Crüe – The Dirt by Mötley Crüe
It’s fair to say that Mick Mars, Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee, and Vince Neil are not often considered literary heroes. And yet, their band’s tell-all memoir, as told to professional horny dude Neil Strauss, is nonstop debauchery at its finest, with groupies and drugs and sex-tapes galore. Says drummer Tommy Lee, not even trying to pretend that their music was all that great: “What everybody always loved Mötley Crüe for was being a fucking decadent band: for being able to walk in a room and inhale all the alcohol, girls, pills, and trouble in sight.”
9. Jasper – Made For Love by Alissa Nutting
If you want horny, look no further than the divine writing of Alissa Nutting. In her latest novel, let’s not linger too long on the heroine’s dying father, whose most meaningful relationship is with the sex doll he keeps as his companion. The main event is Jasper, a former con man who lives “inside the claustrophobic bubble of a vulgar sexual interspecies obsession.” He’s a dolphin fucker. Or at least, he’s an aspiring dolphin fucker — perhaps even hornier. As impractical as it may be, his fantasy life with Bella of the Oceanarium is steamy, slimy, lurid, and passionate.
10. Bruce Patman – Sweet Valley High by Francine Pascal
Sweet Valley’s own Porsche-driving fuckboy has an arrogant attitude and a Preppy Murderer vibe to match. He spends at least half of the seminal multivolume YA series plying all of the hot mean girls in town with booze and trying to touch their boobs, but he really comes into his own with the supersized book Bruce’s Story, in which we find him writing a book with dating tips. This means that we can add to his already sordid résumé the role of pickup artist — the world’s horniest profession.
* Note: Sweet Valley Confidential portrays Bruce as an adult who is kind and considerate. This is a heretical move and therefore anyone who considers the adult Sweet Valley book to be canon is a total boner killer.