Friday, November 18, 2016

Naked Lunch

7437Naked Lunch (sometimes The Naked Lunch) is a novel by William S. Burroughs originally published in 1959. The book is structured as a series of loosely connected vignettes. Burroughs stated that the chapters are intended to be read in any order. The reader follows the narration of junkie William Lee, who takes on various aliases, from the US to Mexico, eventually to Tangier and the dreamlike Interzone. The vignettes (which Burroughs called "routines") are drawn from Burroughs' own experience in these places, and his addiction to drugs (heroin, morphine, and while in Tangier, "Majoun"—a strong marijuana confection—as well as a German opioid, brand name Eukodol, of which he wrote frequently).

The novel was included in Time magazine's "100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005". In 1991, David Cronenberg released a film of the same name based upon the novel and other Burroughs writings.

*May Contain Spoilers*

Naked Lunch, by William S. Burroughs, is definitely the most disturbing book I have ever read to date. It was written in the Counterculture Movement when many people were rejecting the American Establishment. They had had enough. Burroughs was one such person. He was friends with a few of the Beat Authors, specifically Allen Ginsberg who helped him get this novel published. 

Burroughs was addicted to drugs for many years. During this time, he wrote these vignettes about drugs, society, sex, art, and more. The novel doesn't have a clear plot line and Burroughs actually said that the pieces could be read in any order. There are certain characters that pop up repeatedly in different sections but the world, Interzone, is so alarming and terrifying that it's hard to form a connection with any of the characters. Except perhaps the ones being harassed by the doctor. Dr. Benway is utterly insane and it's easy to connect with his patients, who also think he's insane. 

The most intriguing thing about this book is the hidden meaning. Burroughs used metaphor, allegory, and allusion to create a world symbolically in tune with the reality of the 1960s and 70s. He challenged the viewpoints of American politics, global war, drug addiction, homosexuality, and sex itself. The world that he saw was harsh and horrible and he put that into his writing. Naked Lunch is held in high esteem in the literary world because of it's risky and controversial nature so I would recommend it, but only to those who have a strong stomach. 

Rating: 2.5/5 Cups

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