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Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs

Naked Lunch (1959)

by William S. Burroughs

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8,56988356 (3.52)245
  1. 71
    Junky by William S. Burroughs (calwakeel)
  2. 00
    Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh (discohijack)
    discohijack: Both written in a hazy vignette style, both tackle the subject of substance abuse.
  3. 11
    The 120 Days of Sodom by Marquis de Sade (Sylak)

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» See also 245 mentions

English (83)  Dutch (1)  French (1)  Swedish (1)  All (86)
Showing 1-5 of 83 (next | show all)

Glenn R --- Speak to us straight about your Lunch that’s bare
Twisted, dirty and anything but fair.
Your words like needles sticking in our veins
As you write of dopefiends, coke bugs and dames.

William B --- Rube, the word we use in this world is junk
You’ll hear straight without funny stuff or funk.
Read the damn book; I have nothing more to add
For embellishing perfection has never been a fad.

This is a one-of-a-kind novel. I'll be posting a review in the next week. Couldn't help myself with the rhyming couplets since Burroughs is at the extreme opposite end of the literary spectrum from Alexander Pope, to say the least.
( )
1 vote GlennRussell | Feb 16, 2017 |
I certainly remember reading this book, but I have no recollection of what the book was about. Such is memory.
  Tracy_Tomkowiak | Sep 14, 2016 |
Not really my thing, never really a big fan of the beat material. ( )
  kale.dyer | Jul 13, 2016 |
I read this my freshman year in college (1980) when I should have been reading books for my classes. It's a strange novel (no shock there), but very funny. The Dr. Benway character is hilarious. "I ever tell you about the time I performed an appendectomy with a rusty sardine can?"
1 vote Bill.Dawson | Apr 13, 2016 |
I'd give this book 5 stars except that its author was actually assisted and helped by two other editor/authors whose help wasn't explicitly mentioned: Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. Perhaps this is a niggling or petty reason to deduct a star but so be it. I stand firm. (Why not, say, add instead of subtract a star? I don't know. I just don't felt like subtracting it, OK?)

What is Naked Lunch? The title is Kerouac's suggestion (apparently; it's not like I've gossiped with the man). The main characters are a Dr. Benway, Agent Lee, and a whole slew of anonymous actors and actresses. There is, for example, an Agent Bradley, the narcotics agent who poses as a buyer, who eventually becomes a kind of blob that absorbs people whole into himself: schluuubpt. I could go on but doing so would obviate your need to read it.

The novel strikes me as fundamentally true to the essence or nature of biological life. And although we humans aren't all (as in: entirely) animal, we are at least partly animal; and as such subject to natural processes. These processes are described in great and loving detail.

The Iliad repeats the phrase, "rosy fingered dawn." Naked Lunch repeats the phrase, "in the junk-sick dawn." The books share no similarities in matters of plot or content. Although, it would be fair to say that both describe a state of nearly total war.

To any child reading this review, let me just say that this is not a novel for children; neither is it a novel for adults who wish to avoid entertainment that is so utterly inappropriate for children as to necessitate exactly this kind of written prohibition. This book could scar you emotionally, is how inappropriate this book is for children. Likewise, adult life itself is inappropriate for children, which leads me to the last thing I'd like to say about this book: Naked Lunch so accurately depicts certain basic human biological imperatives -- e.g., the sex drive, the 'need' for pleasure, the 'need' for the death penalty (i.e., the need to protect ourselves and society from those who wish to harm us) -- as to render these in an almost entirely new light. There were parts of the novel where I felt like I was observing the behavior of creatures wholly alien to my own species; and then with a sudden start I recognized myself in one or both of the actors' roles.

This is a hard book to describe. It's (sometimes) a hard book to read, even if totally compelling. I fear that saying more will be a drag on the book's industry, so I'll stop.

This is exactly the kind of book that you'd expect a man to write who'd several years earlier accidentally shot and killed his wife. Burroughs was a life-long junkie but that didn't mean that his eyes and heart and brain had ceased to function. In some ways, I think, he saw life more clearly than most. ( )
4 vote evamat72 | Mar 31, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 83 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (65 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Burroughs, William S.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ballard, J. G.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bramhall, MarkNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
de Grazia, EdwardContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ginsberg, AllenContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grauerholz, JamesEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mailer, NormanContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Meijsing, GeertenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Meijsing, GeertenAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miles, BarryEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Supreme Court of MassachsettsContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ulin, David L.Afterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I can feel the heat closing in, feel them out there making their moves, setting up their devil-doll stool pigeons, crooning over my spoon and dropper I throw away at Washington Square station, vault and turnstile and two flights down the iron stairs, catch an uptown A train.
As one judge said to another: Be just. And if you can't be just, be arbitrary.
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Fun fact: The ... edition ... published by France’s Olympia Press, misprinted the title. Burroughs had always intended to call the book simply Naked Lunch, but his editors added the article. The error was corrected in the first, 1962 American edition, but some later printings still included “the” in the title. http://flavorwire.com/231804/classic-...
This work is a special edition of the novel that also contains the DVD of the Cronenberg film adaptation. See the description on amazon.fr.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802140181, Paperback)

Since its original publication in Paris in 1959, Naked Lunch has become one of the most important novels of the twentieth century. Exerting its influence on the relationship of art and obscenity, it is one of the books that redefined not just literature but American culture. For the Burroughs enthusiast and the neophyte, this volume—that contains final-draft typescripts, numerous unpublished contemporaneous writings by Burroughs, his own later introductions to the book, and his essay on psychoactive drugs—is a valuable and fresh experience of a novel that has lost none of its relevance or satirical bite.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:03 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Exerting its influence on the work of authors like Thomas Pynchon, J. G. Ballard, and William Gibson, on the relationship of art and obscenity, and on the shape of music, film, and media generally, Naked lunch is one of the books that redefined not just literature but American culture. Reedited, Naked Lunch: it includes many editorial corrections and incorporates Burroughs notes on the text, several essays he wrote about the book, and an appendix of 20% all-new material and alternate drafts from the original, which predates the first published version.… (more)

» see all 8 descriptions

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