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Naked Lunch (1959)

by William S. Burroughs

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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6,984691,305 (3.5)290
Bill Lee, an addict and hustler, travels to Mexico and then Tangier in order to find easy access to drugs, and ends up in the Interzone, a bizarre fantasy world, in an edition that features restored text, archival material, and an essay on psychoactive drugs.
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English (63)  Spanish (1)  Catalan (1)  French (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (67)
Showing 1-5 of 63 (next | show all)
look, at a certain point very early on, i realised i was reading this not for enjoyment but as an anthropological exercise, satisfying my curiosity about midcentury america, my personal favourite era of history to study. and in that sense this was quite an edifying read. but on the other hand i found it pretty much skin-crawlingly horrible at all points, not so much the sex, the sex i could easily handle, even some of the more comical violence, but my god, the RACISM. oy vey. reading this on the subway felt like i was committing an act of antisocial behaviour. i covered the recto/verso with my hand when i had people near me. mortifying! a hard one to tackle with my 21st Century Sensibilities and like i AM glad i read it - there are actually some moments of really thrilling prose and insight - but now i need a palate cleanser asap. ( )
1 vote i. | Feb 19, 2024 |
I suspect this is a book one either loves or hates. While I didn't hate it, and while the book certainly contains some nuggets of insight that are worth reading, I found it trying to have to read so much ridiculous trash in order to find those insights. Other than its historical relevance, perhaps the main reason to read this book is to see just how messed up heroin and other opiates will make someone, such that you decide to avoid them all. So five stars for its historical relevance, its warning against opiates, and a handful of insights, but zero stars for 98% of the book's contents, which leads to my 2.5 star review. ( )
  tnilsson | Feb 5, 2024 |
I'm rating this classic with 3 stars, which is supposed to mean that I liked it. Let's be honest, though. I really didn't. The hallucinatory element of the narrative honestly had me lost, so I literally didn't know WTF was going on half the time.

But I suppose that's the point.

The book does not glorify addiction. Burroughs' use of hallucinatory imagery is highly effective in this regard, hence the higher rating than I would have given it based on my enjoyment of the material. But there is no single sympathetic character to latch onto to carry the reader through the nightmare. If you're looking to find a new main character to identify with, to sympathize with or to have pull at your heart in hope of him or her rising above their circumstance, this book isn't it. But as far as it being an important work in the history of literature? Yes, I understand why.

The edition I read has an appendix on known addictive drugs and their effects, as well as drugs used during withdrawal techniques that I found highly interesting though. Maybe that's because I could make better sense of it. I don't know if the appendix is standard in the original text, though.
( )
  CaseyAdamsStark | Apr 20, 2023 |
Brilliant writing, dynamic characters, confusing AF, almost annoying but just interesting enough to keep listening, and certain words repeated too often for comfort. I love vulgarity, but specific racial and sexual slurs just aren't my thing these days - once or twice is effective, over and over again is distracting. So for about 7 hours, this audiobook is an entertaining WTF of things happening and amazing phrases with no plot or conclusion to speak of. Then there are about 2 hours of notes, outtakes, and holy shit does it explain a lot! Next time I read this book, it's going to be ten times more meaningful. This has actually revolutionized the way I will approach my writing in the future. Why separate poetry and prose when you can have both in the same work? Not sure I can ever read a "normal" story again. ( )
  JosephVanBuren | May 17, 2022 |
The 1st of Burroughs' 4 or 5 cut-up novels. I reckon the 1st cut-up NOVEL ever. Certainly remarkable for that. But let's not forget, Tristan Tzara & Bob Cobbing deserve more credit for cut-ups (in poetry) than Burroughs & Gysin. In fact, Burroughs sortof 'normalized' cut-ups by never taking them 'too far' beyond what fit his narrative purpose.

I only give this a 4 star rating b/c I like the next 3 cut-up novels so much more. This edition has "Naked Lunch on Trial" re its attempted censorship, an introduction: "Deposition: A Testimony Concerning a Sickness" by Burroughs, & an appendix from The British Journal of Addiction. I don't know if all the other editions are this thorough. As usual, Grove gets kudos for publishing this in the 1st place. A library of ONLY bks that've been suppressed wd be a remarkable adjunct to my long-proposed Museum of Free Thought. "Naked Lunch" wd certainly fit right in.

When I learned that Cronenberg had made a version of "[b:Naked Lunch|7437|Naked Lunch The Restored Text|William S. Burroughs|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1219259455s/7437.jpg|4055]" I was very excited: favorite director, favorite bk. Then I saw the movie & didn't like it - except for the Ornette Coleman soundtrack. I preferred Anthony Balch's "Towers Open Fire" as more formally radical. In retrospect, though, Cronenberg's empahasis on Burroughs' problematic relations w/ women seems daring. To include the accidental "William Tell" shooting of Joan Burroughs & to turn that into a driving force behind Burroughs' writing was a Cronenberg touch that pushed things into a territory other directors might not've touched. ( )
1 vote tENTATIVELY | Apr 3, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 63 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (101 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Burroughs, William S.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ballard, J. G.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Behrens, KatharinaÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Behrens, PeterÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bramhall, MarkNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
de Grazia, EdwardContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ginsberg, AllenContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grauerholz, JamesEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Joyce & Co.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kellner, MichaelÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lendínez, MartínTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mailer, NormanContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Meijsing, GeertenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Meijsing, GeertenAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miles, BarryEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ulin, David L.Afterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woods, Charles RueCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
First words
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.
In life there is that which is funny, and there is that which is politely supposed to be funny. (Foreword)
The Supreme Court of Massachusetts in a decision handed down on July 7, 1966, declared Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs not obscene. (Naked Lunch on Trial)
I awoke from The Sickness at the age of forty-five, calm and sane, and in reasonably good health except for a weakened liver and the look of borrowed flesh common to all who survive The Sickness... (Introduction)
When I say I have no memory of writing Naked Lunch, this is of course an exaggeration, and it is to be kept in mind that there are various areas of memory. (Afterthoughts on a Deposition)
Quotations
As one judge said to another: Be just. And if you can't be just, be arbitrary.
"I studied neurology under Professor Fingerbottom in Vienna...and he knew every nerve in your body. Magnificent old thing...Came to a sticky end... His falling piles blew out the Duc de Ventre's Hispano Suiza and wrapped around the rear wheel. He was completely gutted, leaving an empty shell sitting there on the giraffe skin upholstery.... Even the eyes and brain went with a horrible schlupping sound.  The Duc de Ventre says he will carry that ghastly schlup to his mausoleum."
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Disambiguation notice
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-...
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Bill Lee, an addict and hustler, travels to Mexico and then Tangier in order to find easy access to drugs, and ends up in the Interzone, a bizarre fantasy world, in an edition that features restored text, archival material, and an essay on psychoactive drugs.

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