6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
An oft-misunderstood classic,
This review is from: Naked Lunch (Paperback)
Naked Lunch is a seminal 20th century novel, but it probably isn't as widely read as it deserves to be. Many potential readers may be driven away by its total abscence of plot, its notorious obscenity, and its sporadic and impenetrable hallucinogenic passages.
The novel is not as inacessible as its reputation suggests; the first step towards a better understanding of this beat classic is researching its background, and its author. William S. Burroughs was an eccentric who went through phases of obsession with various esoteric themes, and he wrote Naked Lunch during the height of his obsessions with control, dehumanization and addiction. The novel itself is edited down from a thousand pages of 'notes' and is not meant to be ingested as a continuous whole - as Burroughs suggests in the introduction, you can jump in at any point.
Read some of Burroughs' essays, read about the Beat generation, and read Burroughs' more straightforward debut 'Junky,' and things will begin to come together in the surreal satire that is 'Naked Lunch.' The bizarre images and phrases will convey the bleak poetry they were meant to in the first place.