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Naked Lunch Paperback – January 1, 1992


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Pr (January 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802132952
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802132956
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (380 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #207,542 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"He was," as Salon's Gary Kamyia notes, "20th-century drug culture's Poe, its Artaud, its Baudelaire. He was the prophet of the literature of pure experience, a phenomenologist of dread.... Burroughs had the scary genius to turn the junk wasteland into a parallel universe, one as thoroughly and obsessively rendered as Blake's."

Why has this homosexual ex-junkie, whose claim to fame rests entirely on one book--the hallucinogenic ravings of a heroin addict--so seized the collective imagination? Burroughs wrote Naked Lunch in a Tangier, Morocco, hotel room between 1954 and 1957. Allen Ginsberg and his beatnik cronies burst onto the scene, rescued the manuscript from the food-encrusted floor, and introduced some order to the pages. It was published in Paris in 1959 by the notorious Olympia Press and in the U.S. in 1962; the landmark obscenity trial that ensued served to end literary censorship in America.

Burroughs's literary experiment--the much-touted "cut-up" technique--mirrored the workings of a junkie's brain. But it was junk coupled with vision: Burroughs makes teeming amalgam of allegory, sci-fi, and non-linear narration, all wrapped in a blend of humor--slapstick, Swiftian, slang-infested humor. What is Naked Lunch about? People turn into blobs amidst the sort of evil that R. Crumb, in the decades to come, would inimitably flesh out with his dark and creepy cartoon images. Perhaps the most easily grasped part of Naked Lunch is its America-bashing, replete with slang and vitriol. Read it and see for yourself.

From Publishers Weekly

William S. Burroughs's classic tale has been fully restored by his longtime editors, Grauerholz and Miles, and is invigorated by this enthusiastic reading. Mark Bramhall offers a professional performance peppered with every trick of the actor's trade to make it a resonating effort. He approaches the work with such energy that the story seems like a new entity, freshly relevant and timely. Listeners will lose themselves in the journey of junkie William Lee as he makes his way from bizarre destination to even more bizarre destination in this unforgettable novel. A Grove paperback. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

They are often extremely funny, and the writing is very impressive.
Amazon Customer
Maybe it's interesting discussion material about how some people will like just about anything if they think it makes them look "edgy" in the eyes of their peers.
Pecos Bill
Well, they weren't lying when they said you can literally turn to ANY page in this book and start reading.
Erika Lynn

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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