Naked Lunch

Naked Lunch

3.7 3
by William S. Burroughs Jr.

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Since its original publication in Paris in 1959, Naked Lunch has become one of the most important novels of the twentieth century. Exerting its influence on the relationship of art and obscenity, it is one of the books that redefined not just literature but American culture. For the Burroughs enthusiast and the neophyte, this volume—that contains final-draft…  See more details below


Since its original publication in Paris in 1959, Naked Lunch has become one of the most important novels of the twentieth century. Exerting its influence on the relationship of art and obscenity, it is one of the books that redefined not just literature but American culture. For the Burroughs enthusiast and the neophyte, this volume—that contains final-draft typescripts, numerous unpublished contemporaneous writings by Burroughs, his own later introductions to the book, and his essay on psychoactive drugs—is a valuable and fresh experience of a novel that has lost none of its relevance or satirical bite.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“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 activity—part alchemical, part psychological—that 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 types—be 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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Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
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5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

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Naked Lunch 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
How can I be the first to leave a review for one of the most important books in the world? Burroughs created something truly remarkable with this book. Want something different whilst still being highly entertained through a dirty, drug filled, cut up head? Then read this!
GeorgeBeam 3 months ago
Depictions, Howls, and Promotions 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 promotions of freedom, a “separate life”, and similar illusions. For the illicit drug scene and slams against modernity, I prefer Hunter S. Thompson, as well as Adam Thirwell’s, Lurid and Cute.
ryanseanoreilly 7 months ago
A mad trip into the tattered drift of subconscious undercurrents. Written in a “cut up” style this is one of the most non-linear books I’ve ever read. The author sets forth a series of disjointed vignettes he aptly calls “routines,” which I also found fitting. This book is designed so that you can jump in at any point and not be lost, which is to say you will be just as lost as you would be anywhere else. Narrative? Naw…. The routines in the book involve sadism and the bent thoughts of a junky’s subconscious flow of thought. Reality and perception of mind all seem to bend into each other. The way this book was written, make it difficult for me to recall much except for a pervasive mood and fragments of sarcastic witticism that sometimes played out in strange scenes of ultra violence (e.g. a plunger used in a surgical procedure-a toilet plunger…). The strength in Burroughs’ writing is his biting satire and irony. He takes a salacious slant on the culture, right from the bowels of the counter culture. Some of the material in here made me laugh outright, and other times I cringed. This is definitely not just a book you casually read. You have to gear up for it. The content is not for those easily offended (this was the last piece of written word subjected to federal obscenity laws in the United States—it prevailed). Burroughs was a known heroin addict and wrote this work after causing the death of his wife, and living life somewhat on the lam as he sought the sour comfort of illicit dealings in foreign lands. When he finally came to some kind of reckoning with what he had done, he managed to clean himself up (though I believe he continued to struggle with drugs), he wrote this book. Some of the book is about drugs (junk), some of it is caught up in science fiction elements (telepathic thought control), and some is almost like a political cartoon strip. Later in life, Burroughs got more political and made a name for himself giving spoken word performances. There are hints of this buried in the smoky riffs. Little laughable nuggets of wit. Podcast: If you enjoy my review (or this topic) this book and the movie based on it were further discussed/debated in a lively discussion on my podcast: "No Deodorant In Outer Space". The podcast is available on iTunes, YouTube or our website.