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Naked Lunch

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Jazz Lover, Jul 13, 2005.

  1. I am about 65 pages into this book and am looking to see if anyone else has read it and has comments. I am guessing that the plot won't be given away since it is almost nonexistant. So far I have had the best luck reading out loud and just letting it flow like poetry but I am still having trouble accepting some of the vulgarity. I just want someone who has read the book to tell me to tough it out because it gets easier.
  2. LajoieT

    LajoieT I won't let your shadow be my shade...

    Oct 7, 2003
    Western Massachusetts
    Rented the movie, got confused and stopped watching and fell asleep.
  3. There are a few reasons I keep reading:
    1. It was a birthday present from my wife. (at my request)
    2. I hate not finishing books, no matter how bad.
    3. It makes me think a lot about the relationship between vulgarity and art, and thinking is a good thing.
    4. Like I mentioned earlier, if you can overcome disgust, it flows quite nicely, like a groovy, if heavily distorted, bass line.
  4. Against Will

    Against Will Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2003
    Big Sound Central
    It doesn't get easier, you just get more accustomed to its strangeness. It's basically a pseudo-diary of Burroughs' life in a opium haze. It's paranoid, vicious and vulgar to reflect the state of mind of a junkie (Burroughs was a particularly warped junkie). It shifts narrative a few times, from 1st person to 3rd person a couple of times, which was kind of confusing for me. It is about as close as you will come to a first-hand account of hell (Dante made his story up.) The idea behind it was, essentially, to demolish ideas of morality, dualistic thinking of right and wrong and through doing so, achieve a state of complete freedom in which everything's essence is apparent and obvious;which is where it got its name from; "Naked Lunch": know exactly what it is that's at the end of your fork.

    It's not an easy book to get through, or understand. People like Proust and Joyce are at least comprehensible, but Burroughs is just insane. I started reading it, stopped, read a biography of Burroughs, and then went back to reading it and it was easier.
  5. What was the biography and was it good. Funny you mentioned Joyce. I was just thinking that if Joyce had been an addict...........
  6. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
    I read "Junkie" when I was 12, which was W.S. Burroughs autobiography without all the talking to huge cockroaches and the 'I don't need to cum, I'm on bug powder' bits. :) That was crazy and probably not the best book to be reading at that age. :) Now I'm kinda interested in checking out Naked Lunch cuz I'm interested in the spaced out version of the truer, grittier version of his autobiography.

    The taking out his wife doing the William Tell routine was true though. He ran to Mexico for quite some time to escape prosecution.
  7. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    I once read a book like that, The Stone Canal by Ken Macleod. But it switched perspectives every chapter, so you got use to it.

    I haven't read Naked Lunch, but I want to. Actually, I want to read mostly all of the primary work done by the Beatniks, primarily Kerouac's.
  8. Brad Barker

    Brad Barker

    Apr 13, 2001
    berkeley, ca
    all i know is the relevant simpsons quote:

    *as nelson, martin, bart, and milhouse exit the movie, naked lunch*

    nelson: "i can think of at least two things wrong with that title."
  9. eldave777


    May 24, 2005
    Keep in mind the writer was on heroin.
  10. sargebaker

    sargebaker Commercial User

    May 2, 2004
    Montreal QC CA
    owner/builder, ISLAND Instrument Mfg.
    was that the david cronenberg movie with the cockraoch and various insect typewriters and the yellow powder and stuff? I didn't get it....
  11. Squidfinger

    Squidfinger I wish I could sing like Rick Danko.

    Jan 7, 2004
    Shreveport LA
    Got maybe 50 pages into it and stopped reading it when I realized it lacked things like characters and a plot. Just a long drug induced rant with obvious social overtones. *yawn*
  12. No plot for sure but I disagree with the no characters comment. They may not behave as traditional characters but for sure I will never forget Dr. Benway. Even you got far enough to read about him.
  13. Muzique Fann

    Muzique Fann Howzit brah

    Dec 8, 2003
    Kauai, HI
    Yeah, he was a freak and a junkie - but surprisingly smart (and homosexual too - not that there's anything wrong with that). Most of his heroin buddies were: Kerouac, Ginsberg, Cassady.

    On a side note The Soft Machine and Steely Dan both took their names from beat writings. I heard Kurt Cobain did an 'album' w/ Burrough's doing like a spoken voice thing - anybody heard that?
  14. Passinwind

    Passinwind I am Passinwind and some of you are not. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    It takes at least a few viewings for most people, and even then it's pretty convoluted. One good reason to check it out again is for the Ornette Coleman soundtrack. Or maybe not, depending on whether you swing that way. :cool:
  15. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    You'll learn where Steely Dan got their band name from.
  16. Thor

    Thor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    A book best enjoyed by those who think
    delerium tremens is something they would like
    to experience vicariously.

    I find Kerouac, Wolfe, Thompson and Kesey better
    writers than Burroughs.

    Actually, the Burroughs I prefer is Edgar Rice, not William S.


    My old English teacher once noted, if after 75 pages you can't
    stand it, move on. Good advice until I had to read Dreiser's
    American Tragedy. Uuuughhh!
  17. sargebaker

    sargebaker Commercial User

    May 2, 2004
    Montreal QC CA
    owner/builder, ISLAND Instrument Mfg.
    The Ornette Coleman soundtrack was the onyl thing keeping me form turning the TV off :p
  18. Against Will

    Against Will Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2003
    Big Sound Central
    "Gentleman Junkie" by Graham Caveney. It was alright, kind of read like college term paper, but I got some stuff out of it. There's a biography of Burroughs by Barry Miles and another, "Literary Outlaw" by Ted Morgan that are supposed to be much better. I haven't read them yet.
  19. I read it in college 40 years ago. It was sort of a avante garde forbidden thrill at the time, and like a lot of avante garde forbidden thrills, it had little substance, became very boring very soon and I never read it again.

    My latest, and highly recommended, story of unusual narration is the novella "Aura", by Carlos Fuentes. It is told in the second person and deals with the bizarrre seduction of a young historian/professor (and the bizarre seduction of the reader as well). The style of the narration is an integral part of the story and the technique is carried out superbly. I hope that the English translation conveys the weird, spooky nature of the book well. It is like an Edgar Allen Poe story, only more seductive. I have since enjoyed several more novels by Fuentes, but "Aura" is the best in my estimation and had more impact on me than any other piece of fiction in many years.
  20. "Naked Lunch"-- I've never heard of it, but it sounds like a great idea in concept. It's almost lunch time now actually...

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