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Naked Lunch: The Restored Text Paperback – January 26, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; First Trade Paper Edition edition (January 26, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802140181
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802140180
  • Product Dimensions: 4.7 x 0.9 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (380 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #259,965 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“A masterpiece. A cry from hell, a brutal, terrifying, and savagely funny book that swings between uncontrolled hallucination and fierce, exact satire.” —Newsweek

“Ever since Naked Lunch…William S. Burroughs has been ordained America’s most incendiary artist.” –Los Angeles Times

“A book of great beauty . . . . Burroughs is the only American novelist living today who may conceivably be possessed by genius.” —Norman Mailer

“A great, an essential novel…[that] prefigures much that has occurred in history, the popular media and high and low culture in the past four decades.” –The Commercial Appeal (Memphis)

“A creator of grim fairy tales for adults, Burroughs spoke to our nightmare fears and, still worse, to our nightmare longings. . . . And more than any other postwar wordsmith, he bridged generations; popularity in the youth culture is greater now than during the heady days of the Beats.” —Douglas Brinkley, The Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Naked Lunch will leave the most amoral readers slack-jawed; and yet a trek beneath the depraved surface reveals interweaving caverns that ooze unsettling truths about the human spirit. . . . In the same galloping, lyrical way Walt Whitman celebrated democratic toilers of all stripes, Burroughs gleefully catalogs totalitarian spoilers and criminal types—be they human or monster, psychological or pharmacological.” —Mark Luce, The Kansas City Star

“[Naked Lunch] made Burroughs’s reputation as a leader of the rebels against the complacency and conformity of American society. . . . An outrageous satire on the various physical and psychological addictions that turn human beings into slaves. . . . Burroughs’s vision of the addict’s life, by which we may infer the lives of all of us in some sense, is a vicious death-in-life of unrelieved abnegation, utter enervation and baroque suffering. Dante could not have envisioned such a post-Holocaust, post-apocalyptic circle of hell.” —Frederic Koeppel, The Commercial Appeal

“An absolutely devastating ridicule of all that is false, primitive, and vicious in current American life: the abuses of power, hero worship, aimless violence, materialistic obsession, intolerance, and every form of hypocrisy.” —Terry Southern

“Only after the first shock does one realize that what Burroughs is writing about is not only the destruction of depraved men by their drug lust, but the destruc­tion of all men by their consuming addictions . . . He is a writer of great power and artistic integrity engaged in a profoundly meaningful search for true values.” —John Ciardi

Praise for William Burroughs:

“Of all the Beat Generation writers, William S. Burroughs was the most dangerous. . . . He was anarchy's double agent, an implacable enemy of conformity and of all agencies of control-from government to opiates.” —Rolling Stone

“William was a Shootist. He shot like he wrote—with extreme precision and no fear.” —Hunter S. Thompson

About the Author

William S. Burroughs was born in St. Louis in 1914 and lived in Chicago, New York, Texas, Paris, Tangier, London, and Lawrence, Kansas, where he died in August 1997. He was the author of numerous books, including Naked Lunch, The Soft Machine, Nova Express, The Ticket that Exploded, and The Wild Boys, and was inducted as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. James Grauerholz was William Burroughs’s longtime manager and editor, and is now his literary executor.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

Naked Lunch is one of the finest examples of 20th century literature for what it accomplishes.
morbius@worldnet.att.net
It is different from most books I have ever read, but the stories themselves did not flow well, especially not together as one.
C. Wise
Right, well, I could go on about how much I DIDN'T like this book, but I imagine you get the point.
A. Baker

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

137 of 141 people found the following review helpful By Richard Behrens on April 12, 2001
Format: Paperback
There has been much written about Naked Lunch, so much that the basic facts can be stated from memory: written in Tangiers while the author was addicted to heroin, edited by Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, sold to Olympia Press in Paris and Grove Press in New York, made the author famous and ranked him with Henry Miller and the Marquis de Sade, suffered obscenity trials that ended literary censorship in America, filmed as a movie by David Cronenberg almost twenty five years after publication. And don't forget that Steely Dan got their name from this novel but they claim they never read it.
That is the story of its life: few people have actually gotten through the whole book. It reads in fragments with inconsistent characters morphing, changing and altering identities. Dream, hallucination, reality and drug visions blend and merge and disperse. Scatalogical routines take coherant form and read like vaudville humor from a bathroom wall, then deteriorate into filthy fragments and irreverant and often disgusting descriptions of sado-masochistic sex acts. Everyone is a junkie, everyone is gay, everyone screws teenaged North African boys, everyone is insane, psychotic or diseased. Doctors kill their patients, police murder their suspects, drug addicts infect their marks with insect diseases and turn into centipedes during sex acts that threaten to nauseate the reader.
So what does it all mean? What is the motivation or the reasoning behind it all. Burroughs was no fool and he had a strong moral intent all the way. He considered himself a reporter who has entered behind enemy lines, like a photojournalist who returns from Vietnam with pictures of napalmed babies. The title Naked Lunch evokes an image of someone being wised up to what they are eating.
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161 of 182 people found the following review helpful By Roule Duke on August 17, 2002
Format: Paperback
I have had my copy of Naked Lunch for years and years, read through it many times, but have never attempted to write any kind of review on it, up untill now, because it is just such an amazing book that no words could ever do it any justice! Right from the beginning the writing is brilliant and creative and the pacing is absolutely furious.
There is no simple way to convey the 'story' because indeed nothing like a linear plot line exists. Many people, my own brother included, hate this and simply will not read the whole way through it for this reason alone. The only way to attempt to summerise the book as a whole in a tidy fasion is to say that essintialy it chronicles a mans journey from the United States, the heat was closing in, to Mexico and later Tangiers and finally to the imaginary Interzone.
Along the way we meet many colorful charaters, the most memorable of which is the charming and diabolical Dr Benway, and visit many exotic dreamscapes like the Meet Cafe where patrons eat the black meat of the giant aquatic centerpede while mugwamps dispense addictive fluid from their heads. At first glace the reader may assume that this dark world with its evil political factions and infernal beaurocracies is a paranoid nightmare of the author, but when you look closer it is the dark side of same world that we live in everyday rendered down to its most extreme and 'naked' form.
While many would like to put William S Burroughs down as nothing more than a junkie who killed his own wife and whose writing is very overated, there is simply such power in his words that cannot be denied. The captivating writing style and the amazingly hilairious black humor that abounds throught out the book (and is probually some of the darkest humor ever, in any medium) come straight off every page.
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Format: Paperback
This edition of the classic Burroughs text has has textual errors corrected by Burroughs scholar Barry Miles and Burroughs's longtime personal secretary James Grauerholz. In addition to presenting the text, this book includes a comprehensive essay on the process which brought Naked Lunch to publication (Kerouac and Ginsberg were heavily involved), as well as details on the editors' process of generated the restored text. The book concludes with additional fragments of writing by Burroughs which expand on some of the chapters of the novel.

The text is a narrative (in the absolute loosest sense of the term) about a narcotics addict who flees New York to travel through the Southern US, Mexico, South America, and into North Africa. It opens with clear paragraphs and a fairly typical storytelling structure and then disintegrates into stream of consciousness notes (of a drug addict) full of ellipsis points. The book moves from a literal world to a fantastic illusionary place of demons, people with mold growing on their bodies, transparent addicts, and rampant orgies of anal sex.

Is it an easy read? No. Is it a novel? Definitely not. It is, however, and important cultural read and an amazing book about being under the influence of drugs. If you don't get too far with the main text, before you toss the book away, be sure to check out the open letter from Burroughs to the medical community about addiction and treatment for a wide range of drugs (it appears at the end of both the original and restored editions). That essay is clearly written and very informative.
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