Naked Lunch By William S. Burroughs

I've just seen that there is a David Cronenburg film of this book. It's the perfect pairing. The only other person who could have filmed this is perhaps John Waters, and he's maybe a bit friendly.

If you've read the book and ever watched a Cronenburg film, you're eyes just bugged out and jaw dropped at the idea of it, right? If not, why not? Explain.

The book is sparklingly brilliant, awful, nasty, wicked and beautiful. The work of a genius. There are a lot of good reviews out there, I'm not up to it. But a recommendation - if you like Burroughs, try Jean Genet, especially Our Lady of the Flowers. Burroughs and Genet, felons and addicts both, Genet the more lyrical of the two, both soared to the highest heights of twentieth century experimental fiction. Paperback Agenbite of Inwit. (repeat until exhausted...)
James Joyce

I don't think I ever saw the point of Burroughs' title - but I have a hunch it's the same stark lunch many of our shamefully-unsung vets see on their plates when their awful PTSD kicks in - God save 'em all!

Way back in 1967 I caught the Postmodern English Lit bug.

I celebrated New Year by gorging my literary appetite on the short stories of Franz Kafka. I started Joyce’s Ulysses (agenbite of inwit...) after reading his autobiography of Stephen Daedalus, whom I mistook for myself.

Suddenly I had an attitude.

And travelling to Montréal that summer for Expo - The World’s Fair - I immersed myself in its heady postmodernism, and discovered there a cornucopia of literary leads that would take me down fictional rabbit holes throughout my twenties.

Back home, I blasted Thelonius Monk and Charlie Rouse from my book-strewn room and digested the countercultural babblings of Evergreen Magazine, shyly purchased in Montréal.

That was my teenaged attempt at an Identity Statement!

I think it was in the latter publication that I first heard of Burroughs.

Finding a copy at my Mom’s (avant-gardiste!) public library, I stuck it into my backpack for a weekend at my longtime friend David’s family cottage, along with our buddy, Rob.

Neither of them raised an eyebrow. There was a lot of ferment back in the 60’s!

We hitchhiked to the crossroads from which a long, dusty hike past five miles of cornfields awaited us.

At the cottage there was a hand pump for water and no electricity, but I slogged through this book in the daylight hours.

To an innocent like me it was largely incomprehensible.

There, laid out before my ignorant eyes, were multitudinous arcane references to the mysterious paraphernalia of heroin addiction.

Oh, and homosexuality - to which I have similarly remained a green stranger - and for which fact Burroughs was forced to wage a battle all the way to the US Supreme Court.

But the writing itself was to die for.

Burroughs writes like a doomed angel, and the strangled strains of the golden voice of this Man With the Golden Arm catch our hearts with their angry passion.

And there was one golden message that has never failed to set off the red alarm button for me, even fifty years plus after reading it: “You’ve GOT to see what’s ON THE END OF YOUR FORK.”

That’s no joke, folks. Modern Life is NO GAME. It’s playing Hardball with us even as we sleep.

Yet it was all too much for this straight kid. And even now I’m still trying now to attain Burrough’s clarity.

That first attempt to ingratiate myself to the farthest-fetched postmodernism failed.

I was bowled over - but not won over.

But reading books like this goes a long way towards explaining why -

In my dotage -

I have become such a quiet and banal, ordinary househusband. Still trying to WAKE UP... as slowly as humanly possible!

It's a zoo out there. Paperback Πόσο αξιολογώ την ευχαρίστηση και την πληρότητα που αισθάνθηκα διαβάζοντας το γυμνό γεύμα
Πόσο αξιολογώ την αξία του βιβλίου ως απευθείας διεργασία σε περιοχές του ψυχισμού επιτελώντας συγκεκριμένη λειτουργία.

Θεωρώ πως δεν πρέπει να πιάσει κανείς στα χέρια του το συγκεκριμένο βιβλίο εαν πρώτα δεν μάθει τα πάντα για την θρυλικά δραματική ζωή του Γουίλιαμ Μπάροουζ.

Είναι ένα φρικαλέο,απαίσιο, σιχαμερό,προσβλητικό,σκανδαλώδες,χυδαίο,ανήθικο,
διεφθαρμένο,hardcore πορνογράφημα,μυθικά σατιρικό και θρυλικά ώμο. Όπως ακριβώς και η ζωή του Μπάροουζ. Και εδώ είναι το σημείο αναφοράς. Αν νιώσεις τη βιογραφία του συγγραφέα,αυτομάτως κατανοείς την αξία του βιβλίου.

Το γυμνό γεύμα δεν γράφτηκε για να διασκεδάσει ή να κερδίσει εντυπώσεις. Είναι ένα ανορθόδοξο,βιωματικό και σοκαριστικό βιβλίο αφιερωμένο στην αρρώστεια και την αντικουλτούρα της λογοτεχνίας και της κοινωνίας του κόσμου.

Ο συγγραφέας είναι ένας μποέμ παρείσακτος ψυχασθενής, απόφοιτος του Χάρβαρντ, γόνος εύπορης οικογένειας και περιθωριακά αντισυμβατικός.
Εθισμένος σε σκληρές ναρκωτικές ουσίες,περιπλανητής του κόσμου, ομοφυλόφιλος,τυχοδιώκτης,συζυγοκτόνος και προφητική μορφή στην εξέλιξη της λογοτεχνίας.

Μια σιχαμένη ιδιοφυΐα,ένα απαίσιο μεγαλοφυές μυαλό που πιστεύει πως η γλώσσα είναι ένας ιός απο το διάστημα.
Μια διεστραμμένη φιγούρα της κοινωνίας που γράφει στη δεκαετία του '50 στην Ταγγέρη το συγκεκριμένο βιβλίο σε μορφή επιστολών-σκέψεων-σημειώσεων χωρίς αρχή-μέση-τέλος,αναμειγνύοντας τη μυθοπλασία με φοβερές δόσεις πραγματικότητας.

Εκείνη την εποχή εθισμένος σε παραισθησιογόνες ουσίες προσπαθεί παράλληλα να αποκτήσει το χάρισμα της τηλεπάθειας.
Πριν και μετά,αυτό το διανοητικά άρρωστο και εθισμένο ... Μέλος της Αμερικανικής Ακαδημίας και Ινστιτούτου Τεχνών και Γραμμάτων - επικεφαλής του Τάγματος Γραμμάτων και Τεχνών της Γαλλίας, αναμειγνύεται με τις σκιές του πλανήτη μας και προκαλεί.

Το γυμνό γεύμα είναι μια έκρηξη απόγνωσης. Μια σχιζοφρενική και αρχικά ακαταλαβίστικη περιγραφή ενός φρικτού μαγικό-ναρκωτικού σύμπαντος σε αδιευκρίνιστο χωροχρόνο.

Αποτελεί σίγουρα προφητική περιγραφή μελλοντικών εξελίξεων και ως πραγματική ουσία του μυθιστορήματος περιγράφεται « η Αποκαθήλωση και η Βεβήλωση της Ανθρώπινης εικόνας απο τους ελεγχομανείς που διασπείρουν τον ιό του εθισμού».

Για να φτάσουμε σε αυτό το συμπέρασμα όμως περνάμε απο ένα καταδικασμένο και χυδαίο πορνογράφημα με σκληρές σκηνές παιδοφιλικού σεξ,φόνους ανηλίκων,φρικαλέων σοδομιστικών και σαδιστικών περιγραφών και κανιβαλισμού. Βουτάμε στην ταπείνωση και την εξαθλίωση. Πνιγόμαστε απο δυσφορία και μιζέρια άρρωστης κατάντιας και εξαχρείωσης. Υποφέρουμε απο όλες τις μορφές εθισμού τοξικών και κοινωνικών εθισμών.

Το «γυμνό γεύμα» ανεξαρτήτως υποκειμενικών εντυπώσεων ή συμπερασμάτων,αποτελεί σίγουρα ένα συνεχές αναθεωρούμενο,άσεμνο και εύστοχο χειρόγραφο τοξικού ρεαλισμού.

Ίσως να συστήνεται με λιγότερη επιφύλαξη το κινηματογραφικό γυμνό γεύμα απο τον Ντέιβιντ Κρόνενμπεργκ που ομολογουμένως επιχείρησε το ασύλληπτο.

Καλή ανάγνωση (προαιρετική παραίνεση)

Πολλούς ασπασμούς!!

* Η κινηματογραφική εκτέλεση έκανε τους παράγοντες να ορκιστούν πως δεν θα ξαναγυρίσουν τέτοια ταινία. Paperback I made it just a little bit past the passage mentioning Steely Dan the dildo (actually, it's three generations of dildos all thriving under the Steely Dan name). And then, at the request of my old man who was sick of hearing me complain and puzzle over this book, I put it down for good. I don't like to leave books unfinished, but a girl can only swallow so many reiterations of the same tired orgiastic death-by-hanging scenario before she puts her foot down and says NO MORE!
I almost liked the book for this over-the-top ghastliness alone. Complex, acrobatic sex scenes abound, and there's something charming about the way it just gets nastier and nastier until the outlandishness of the unending orgies becomes laughable. But the redundancy of the themes and prose eventually became cloying. For example, Burroughs used the phrase cancelled eyes conspicuously often. While it's an apt enough way to describe the expression of someone floating through a drug haze, his overuse of the term struck me as a little too self-congratulatory, as if he was thinking, Burroughs, you magnificent bastard! What a clever turn of phrase! Do it again! And that sort of characterized the whole half of the book I finished--it seemed like Burroughs' critical abilities were blinded by his love for his own shock-value-saturated meanderings.
On the whole (or, rather, on the half, since that's all I finished), reading Naked Lunch was like listening to someone tell you their weird dream from last night. Vaguely interesting, especially when it makes narrative sense, but, as it drones on, too zanily bizarre to keep my attention. Paperback This book is beautiful in a sick-grotesque-wild-hilarious-creative-mind-bending-outlandish-drug-filled-dirty-brave kind of way. If I could use one word to describe it, it would be “bizarre”; although “hilarious” and “important” could work, too. In Naked Lunch you are taken into the mind of William S. Burroughs -- a twisted, drug addicted man, who also happens to be genius.

When considering its content, it’s no wonder Naked Lunch was banned and railed against when it was first released; it’s also no surprise that it was as popular as it was, given its creative brilliance. I can’t recommend Naked Luncht to anyone; it’s as graphic as the imagination allows. In fact, I would say that it’s the sickest book I’ve ever read, but I just happened to read Bataille’s Story of the Eye the other day, too. Between the two, there’s really no way of telling which pushes the limits more: Naked Lunch describes events such as young men being hung by nooses while they cum and shit on other young men. Story of the Eye contains scenes such as those involving a just-plucked eyeball, drenched in urine, being immersed in a young women’s vagina and asshole. So you see, it’s tough to decide which is more bizarre; which is sicker. Novels like these -- that stretch limitations -- are important, though, because they remind us of our baser instincts. Becoming aware of and familiarizing ourselves with the sicknesses that can exist in human beings can actually further our empathy and appreciation; it can increase the likelihood that we note everyday acts of generosity, and therefore increase the chances that we, in kind, continuously act in such a way.

But I know that Naked Lunch isn’t for everybody. If you can’t handle or don’t like this kind of thing, that’s fine with me: what you prefer and decide to read affects me very little; and it’s your right, really. Read a worthless, mind-numbing romance novel for all I care. But don’t you dare try to take a book -- no matter how graphic or nasty -- out of the hands of others. Sure there are gross books out there that have no deeper meaning; but even these, I believe, have every right to be read. After all, who are you -- in your blatant subjectivity -- to choose what defines worthwhile art for others?

But that’s beside the point, really, because Naked Lunch is powerfully imaginative and creative. If you can take its vile nature, waste no time in adding it to your “to read” list, because it can open-up some perceptual doorways.

WARNING: nasty language ahead, including the use of some of my favorite phrases from the novel; these include such choice nuggets as mugwump jism and to turn a massacre into a sex orgy and a bubbly thick stagnant sound, a sound you could smell and the subject will come at his whistle, shit on the floor if he but say Open Sesame. anyway,

I’ll be honest, mugwump jism, it took me a while to get into Naked Lunch, to turn a massacre into a sex orgy. Three attempts, to be exact, a bubbly thick stagnant sound, a sound you could smell. I don’t mind stream-of-conscious writing, I don’t mind the Beats, I don’t mind postmodernism, I don’t mind graphic sexual and violent imagery, I don’t mind experimental narratives, the subject will come at his whistle, shit on the floor if he but say Open Sesame. But a work that combines all of those things in one fetid stew, in such an in-your-face way that could care less about creating any kind of empathy, and has such a complete disinterest in establishing easily-digestible form or meaning... well, it was off-putting mugwump jism. In a way it made me angry at Burroughs, to turn a massacre into a sex orgy. Who the fuck did he think he was, grinding my face in the muck and telling me that this foul nonsense was the new Now, a bubbly thick stagnant sound, a sound you could smell? I didn’t like how every fourth phrase seemed to be about shit or jism or asses or toothless mouths, the subject will come at his whistle, shit on the floor if he but say Open Sesame. I thought the extreme homoeroticism was gruesome and not very erotic, and it actually made me feel rather homophobic – and this is coming from a bonafide cocksucker, mugwump jism.

But the third try worked like a charm to turn a massacre into a sex orgy. Maybe I just needed to grow into the novel, and not take its challenging ways so personally, a bubbly thick stagnant sound, a sound you could smell. The writing became amazing to me – overindulgent (obviously) but also masterful, profound even, in its hair-raising descriptive passages, its deadpan dialogue, its drooling emphasis on bodily functions, decay, death, degradation, the subject will come at his whistle, shit on the floor if he but say Open Sesame. Its paranoia was no longer oppressive – if anything, it was freeing, mugwump jism. Naked Lunch’s ability to convey not just the darkness but the strangeness and black humor at the heart of both addiction and the various possible and existing forms of societal control became fascinating, to turn a massacre into a sex orgy. The radical changes in perspective, the decentralized plot and oblique narrative, all the grotesque, taboo fantasias suddenly felt mordantly playful and, well, “naked” in their need to convey a state of mind, a world view, a way of looking at the systems of the world... all of that actually became inspirational, in both the challenge of its intent and the radical nature of its result; and so the subject will come at his whistle, shit on the floor if he but say Open Sesame.

Paperback ”The title means exactly what the words say: NAKED lunch--a frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of the fork.” The book title was suggested by Jack Kerouac.

If not for the intervention of William S. Burroughs friends, Naked Lunch would have never seen the light of day. Peter Orlovsky, Allen Ginsberg, and Jack Kerouac decided to visit Burroughs in Tangiers and see if they could salvage any of the fragmented writing that had been dripping from the mind of Burroughs while he was nursing addictions to heroin and young male prostitutes. This is not a novel and if you venture into it thinking it is going to be a novel, with a linear plot line, you will be disappointed from the get go. This is a collection of horrors, fears built upon a wicket of paranoia, fantasies shared with brutal honesty, and demented, unhinged sex. Love does not tread through the shadows of this delusional; and yet, dare I say brilliant work of writing.

Burroughs explains:

You can cut into Naked Lunch at any intersection point...I have written many prefaces. They atrophy and amputate spontaneous like the little toe amputates in a West African disease confined to the Negro race and the passing blonde shows her brass ankle as a manicured toe bounces across the club terrace, retrieved and laid at her feet by her Afghan hound...
Naked Lunch is a blueprint, a How-To-Book...Abstract concepts, bare as algebra, narrow down to a black turd or a pair of aging conjones...

Naked Lunch influenced music, most famously: Kurt Cobain, Bob Dylan, and Lou Reed. Band names emerged from characters in the book including Steely Dan. References to Burroughs spring up in literature and his influence is apparent in the works of Martin Amis and Will Self. Norman Mailer once referred to Burroughs as, “possibly the only living American writer of genius.” Essayists speculate that Mailer may have only said that to irritate the trio of Roth, Updike, and Bellow. Mailer was always the guy on the outside looking in.

So the Beat Generation ambassadors that sat down and tried to make sense out of the ramblings of the haphazardly collected writings, found among this mess of a manuscript something fresh and scary. The publishers they took it to saw the mess more than they saw the brilliance. Only after a few bits were published in a magazine called Big Table in 1959 and the writing was declared obscene and prosecuted did Maurice Girodias of Olympia Press, always spoiling for a fight on censorship, decided to publish. Ahhhh nothing like banning books to generate sales.

Edith Sitwell loftily rejected this “filth”. ”I do not wish to spend the rest of my life with my nose nailed to other people’s lavatories. I prefer Chanel No 5.”

Can’t you just see Burroughs laughing gleefully, rubbing his hands together, at all the press: good, bad, and indifferent? He must have been thrilled that Sitwell even deigned to crack the cover of his book.

You might be still a babe in the woods who has not armchaired travelled down the stench filled alley of a Naked Lunch inspired nightmare. You might be thinking at this point in the review that you might want to read this book. I can assure you that you may NOT want to read this book. If you are a person who intends to be a serious writer then... yes... you really should read this book. It does open up vistas of thought if you can relax your moral compass for about 215 pages. Burroughs was riding fifteen years of addiction and self-indulgence. These writings, to me, were merely an outlet to get some of the muttering ideas out of his head. The process may have curbed the ragged edge of insanity.

I suppose some titillation can be gleaned from these writings. Perversity and obscenity has appeal. Pain has a following. ”She seized a safety pin caked with blood and rust, gouged a great hole in her leg which seemed to hang open like an obscene, festering mouth waiting for unspeakable congress with the dropper which she now plunged out of sight into the gaping wound. But her hideous galvanized need (hunger of insects in dry places) has broken the dropper off deep in the flesh of her ravaged thigh (looking rather like a poster on soil erosion).”

Writing about sex and desire is always of interest.

”I was young myself once and heard the siren call of easy money and women and tight boy-ass and land’s sake don’t get my blood up I am subject to tell a tale make your cock stand up and yip the pink pearly way of young cunt or the lovely brown mucus-covered palpitating tune of the young boy-ass play your cock like a recorder...and when you hit the prostate pearl sharp diamonds gather in the golden lad balls inexorable as a kidney stone.”

At times Burroughs is whimsical.

”The nostalgia fit is on me boys and will out willy silly...boys walk down the carny midway eating pink spun sugar...goose each other at the peep show...jack off in the Ferris wheel...throw sperm at the moon rising red and smoky over the foundries across the river.”

He shares his junky dreams.

”Cooking smells of all countries hang over the City, a haze of opium, hashish, the resinous red smoke of yage, smell of the jungle and salt water and the rotting river and dried excrement and sweat and genitals.”

His terror.

The scream shot out of his flesh through empty locker rooms and barracks, musty resort hotels, and spectral, coughing corridors of T.B. sanitariums, the muttering, hawking, grey fishwater smell of flophouses and Old Men’s Homes, great, dusty customs sheds and warehouses, through broken porticoes and smeared arabesques, iron urinals worn paper thin by the urine of a million fairies, deserted weed-grown privies with a musty smell of shit turning back to the soil, erect wooden phallus on the grave of dying peoples plaintive as leaves in the wind, across the great brown river where whole trees float with green snakes in the branches and sad-eyed lemurs watch the shore out over a vast plain (vulture wings husk in the dry air). The way is strewn with broken condoms and empty H caps and K.Y. tubes squeezed dry as bone meal in the summer sun.”

Anybody want a hit of H?

Burroughs during a William Tell reenactment with his wife, after I’m sure copious amounts of alcohol and chemical assistance had been inhaled, attempted to shoot a drink off her head for the entertainment of their friends. He missed. She died. He called his lawyer.

The quotes I’ve selected to share in this review are nowhere near the worse or most perverse of the writing that will be experienced in this book. If anyone has been offended I am truly sorry, but I do not want people reading a book that is not a good fit for them. Consider these quotes to be a warning sign to decide if you want to avoid more of the same (only much more shocking) or that you are game to see what else Burroughs can fling on you, can etch into your skin, can smear in your hair, can wiggle into your brain, can “hot lick” your...

This book put me in mind of the first time I went to a strip club, which happened to be in Kansas City. At first I was looking around like a farm boy fresh off the back of the turnip truck, jaw dropped, eyeballs extended amazed at all the BOOBS just walking around everywhere. After about a half hour, my brain made adjustments, and it became... well... boring isn’t the right word but the shock value had worn off. I was ready to go somewhere else, do something else. My reaction to this book was similar, even though it was my second trip through it, still for about the first fifty pages I was uncomfortable and second guessing my decision to reread it and horrified at the thought of trying to review it. I hung in there mainly because I’d survived the experience once and had a feeling that I would adjust. As I advanced through the pages, Burroughs would continue to stick needles into my morality, but I was becoming more immune. In fact, at times the book started to feel repetitive. I even reached a point where I could say “hey Burroughs I got it, you can quit hitting me with the hammer now”.

I could have written a series of reviews espousing the reasons for giving this book one star up to five stars. It has had an impact on the literary and musical landscape (art as well if you count his shotgun splatter paintings), and not necessarily a negative one. I landed on four stars because Burroughs, in whatever level of hell he is residing in (if you believe in that stuff), will not get the satisfaction of yet another negative review. Bad press has been very, very good to him.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit
I also have a Facebook blogger page at: Paperback From the 20 pages I've read so far, it seems like starting a heroin habit is a bad idea. Paperback The flaw of the 5-star rating system is in trying figure out whether you should award stars based on how much you liked a book, or based on how good you think a book is. These two criteria are often distinct from each other, and Naked Lunch, at least for me, is a perfect example of this. I think that Naked Lunch is a brilliant book, an that Burroughs is one of our century's great literary geniuses. So, that makes it a five star book. But did I enjoy reading it? Sometimes very much, sometimes not at all. Burroughs's slang is simultaneously grotesque and sparkling. He is often very funny and sometimes prone to accidental fits of beauty. But he's an experimentalist at heart, which, for me at least, makes him challenging to read. This sounds really fussy school-marmy (because it is), but I sometimes long for him to just use punctuation like a normal person. In a way, reading Burroughs is like reading the Bible... (God, I loved making that comparison.) You can't really just plow through it like a regular novel, because it's too winding and strange. It follows only a vague timeline that it adheres to only when the mood takes it. Plotwise, all bets are off. You kind of have to read it in spurts and fits, which is probably how it was written.
That said, I've read Naked Lunch at least four times, but never read it all the way through, from front to back. There are certain things that you do this with in your life...for instance, it took me years before I could rent either Time Bandits or Brazil before I could manage to stay awake to watch the whole film. What I finally discovered was that I'd never been old enough to appreciate Brazil before. Now it's one of my favorite movies. And Time Bandits is just really boring.

So here goes. I will read Naked Lunch from cover to cover, and finally figure out how I feel about it.
The Bible is gonna have to wait its turn. Paperback So, basically, the meaningless drivel of the very first circuit boi? Seriously? Maybe I would have liked it better if I weren't already sick to death of all the hallucinatory narratives this book spawned. This is a structure that needed to be created only once to get the bastard over with and properly buried.

Drug narratives are always only autobiographies obsessed with the author's secret obscene wishes and (inevitably) Neanderthal politics. They are the literary equivalent of a frotteur on the subway recounting an especially long and boring dream.

As a dear friend once told me, Shut the fuck up, you stupid stoner. Paperback


Say hello to Bradley the Buyer, the best narcotics agent in the business. Attend international playboy A.J.'s annual party, where the punch is to be treated with extreme caution. Meet Dr 'Fingers' Schafer, the Lobotomy Kid and his giant centipede. 'The Complete American De-anxietized Man'. And enter the dark and infernal mind of Bill Lee as he pursues his daily quest for the ultimate merchandise...

Provocative, influential, morbidly fascinating, Naked Lunch is an apocalyptic ride through the darker recesses of the human psyche.

Naked Lunch


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