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Naked Lunch Paperback – July 16, 2013
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"Grace & Style: The Art of Pretending You Have It"
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A masterpiece. A cry from hell, a brutal, terrifying, and savagely funny book that swings between uncontrolled hallucination and fierce, exact satire.” Newsweek
A book of great beauty and manically exquisite insight with a wild and deadly humor . . . The only American novelist who may conceivably be possessed by genius.” Norman Mailer
Burroughs is the greatest satirical writer since Jonathan Swift. . . . The net result of Naked Lunch will be to make people shudder at their own lies, will be to make them open up and be straight with one another. Swift and Rabelais and Sterne accomplished a step in that direction, and Burroughs another.” Jack Kerouac
Booty brought back from a nightmare.” The New York Times
Burroughs called his greatest novel Naked Lunch, by which he meant it’s what you see on the end of a fork. He’s a writer of enormous richness whose books are a kind of attempt to blow up this cozy conspiracy, to allow us to see what’s on the end of the fork . . . the truth.” J. G. Ballard
It’s a completely powerful and serious book, as good as anything in prose or poetry written by a beat’ writer, and one of the most alive books written by any American for years. I don’t see how it could be considered immoral.” Robert Lowell
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
Burroughs was the last great avatar of literary modernism and Naked Lunch is his most important work. Like an intrepid explorer in to the inner space of the human psyche, Burroughs was unafraid to offer up his own unconscious as a kind of test bed, within which to allow the most sinister and viral of ideas to propagate. It was this activitypart alchemical, part psychologicalthat allowed him to prophesy with unerring accuracy the hideous modes that human behavior would assume in the post-apocalyptic second half of the twentieth century. Naked Lunch is essential reading for anyone who maintains any illusions about anything; to quote its author: Rub out the word.’” Will Self
Burroughs is a superb writer, and Naked Lunch a novel of revolt in the best late-modern sense. . . . If there should be a twenty-first century, this is one of the few works historians could turn to for a grasp, both imaginative and intelligent, of the strange historical phase of the human condition we are living through.” E. S. Seldon
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.” The Los Angeles Times Book Review
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 destruc¬tion 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
This book, which is not a novel but a booty brought back from nightmare, takes a coldly implacable look at the dark side of our nature. Civilization fails many; many fail civilization. William Burroughs has written the basic work for understanding that desperate symptom which is the beat style of life.” Herbert Gold
A landmark experimental novel.” Los Angeles Times
Probably the most audacious book by any American writer since Henry Miller’s celebrated pair of Tropics.” Chicago Tribune
Naked Lunch is a dark, wild ride through the terror of heroin addiction and withdrawal, filled with paranoia, erotica and drug-fueled hallucinations.” NPR
An astonishingly lurid account of an addict on the run from the Man.” San Francisco Weekly
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 typesbe they human or monster, psychological or pharmacological.” The Kansas City Star
Naked Lunch still delivers the gut-grabbing jolt of the autoerotic hangings that punctuate its pages, every death erection and post-mortem ejaculation described with a grim relish that walks the line between cry of conscience and shudder of fetishistic pleasure. . . . Burroughs . . . shoves America headfirst into the bilge of its hypocrisies.” Las Vegas Weekly
[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.” The Commercial Appeal
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
I hated the first 20 pages of Naked Lunch. I wasn't yet used to the writing style... Burroughs uses a lot of obscure and unobvious slang, and a lot of similes and metaphors that don't seem to make sense. It's mostly sentence fragments. As I read, though, I kind of got used to the style. It didn't seem so frustrating any more; it was an enigma, and it was cool on top of that. The last half of the book is a lot more fun, anyway.
The bizzareness of Naked Lunch is probably what saved it for me, though. It's chock full of drugs and drug use. Most of the characters are gay, and some of them seem to be insane. There's an upper class eccentric who destroys social events and establishments, a man who used to be president of an island where the position of president is ridiculed, and a man who pumps his mental patients full of drugs. The book is sort of an allegory of Burrough's own life, and if you read about him you can see a lot of the parallels.
There's a lot of people I wouldn't recommend Naked Lunch to. In fact, I don't think I personally know anyone who I'd recommend it to. None of the people I know could stand it. They're all too sane. All the people out there who are obsessed with this book have got to be insane. Or just really smart, I guess. I'm dumb and sane. I still happened to like it, though.
this book, wow, this book, is f****** amazing. I've read Howl, I've read On The Road (excellent by the way), I've read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Kingdom of Fear, The Rum Diary, and such by Hunter S. Thompson. I feel like the other beats were building up to this, and HST was impossible WITHOUT William S. Burroughs. Naked Lunch is a masterpiece. I don't think there is another book like it, so full of invention, creativity, like a zoo of freaks or a jungle of mountain lions. Be afraid, be very afraid, this is not for middle schoolers, nor even high schoolers (Burroughs himself obviously inspired by Aldous Huxley's A Brave New World). I would even say that college might be a bit too soon (most of my peers were idiots (unless it was a philosophy class [hey ho!])): "that's too much reading!"
No, Naked Lunch is something I have spent time building up to. I have spent time with counter-cultureists and know their style. I read maybe a quarter of Ulysses, and while that was way harder, Naked Lunch also induced headaches. I wouldn't say someone should just jump into it in terms of literary retrospective, but in terms of imagination, the novel is in a class all its own.
Some are going to really dislike the use of sex. Some are going to really dislike the mention of drugs. Some will just hate the inventive use of language that is more like a poem and a riddle than an essay. I say dive in! Why not just go with it? Don't feel like you have to read Naked Lunch to get onto the next thing, read it like a fine wine, taking in a little bit here and there. After all, Burroughs spent at least a decade getting Lunch complete. Tolstoy wrote War and Peace in pieces over two and a half years. Joyce wrote Ulysses over about the same time Burroughs took.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Wacky and wild for sure. I enjoyed the read but knew what I was getting into. This book will not be for everyone, for sure. Read morePublished 6 days ago by MomReaderShopperNJ
I bought this after reading some article about William S Burroughs. When I started reading it, I felt like I was reading another language. Read morePublished 6 days ago by Retired TX Engineer
My book review:
Burroughs' masterpiece holds together through incomprehensibility as we follow its trail of cthonic debris. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Hungry Old Soul
Sometimes the rambling of a drug addict idiot is not "important" or revolutionary. It's just a bunch of incoherent thoughts from a drug addict. Read morePublished 2 months ago by donna cavaliere
Not much better than the cult film. Obfuscation in lieu of any clarity is often mistaken for talent or art.Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
Naked Lunch is a Beat Generation novel of drug infused depictions of the torment and rapture of homosexuality in a homophobic society, howls against conformity and control, and... Read morePublished 3 months ago by George Beam
I still haven't decided if i thought it was amazing or extremely boring ! There were some fascinating stories/chapters, but most of them made me fall asleep during the reading. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Cintya Y.