Book: Naked Lunch, by William Burroughs

Title: Naked Lunch
Author:
William S. Burroughs
Source: Veddma library
ISBN:
0-586-08560-2
Avaialble online

Notes: In the words of the author, “This book spill off the page in all directions, kaleidoscope of vistas, medley of tunes and street noises, farts and riot yipes and the slamming steel shutters of commerce, screams of pain and pathos and screams plain pathic, copulating cats and outraged squawk of the displaced bull head, prophetic mutterings of brujo in nutmeg trances, snapping necks and screaming mandrakes, sigh of orgasm, heroin silent as dawn in the thirsty cells, Radio Cairo screaming like a berserk tobacco auction, and flutes of Ramadan fanning the sick junky like a gentle lush worker in the grey subway dawn feeling with delicate fingers for the green folding crackle…”

Describing the feelings this book brings is hard. Drug-induced semi-connected observations give way to orgies and death, which in turn are replaced with political and medical scenes within the Interzone society, all described with painfully precise language that brings the narration to life. Unpleasant, sickening, curious, brilliant, raw, merciless, and terrifying. Norman Mailer called it “A book of great beauty and maniacally exquisite delight.” It feels like the junk-sick reality is peaking through the brightly illuminated unpleasant, filthy fantasy.

The book is followed by the Appendix that contains a “Letter from a master addict to dangerous drugs”, written by the author and addressed to medical professionals. It details his experiences with various drugs, judges which ones are physically addictive, and reveals his views on the effectiveness of available treatments.

This book is best read when one has time to start and stop reading as they please. As I did not have that luxury, coming back into the midst of a complex thought described with a neglect for grammar rules and punctuation, abundant with slang, all within a non-linear timeline, made it hard to dive back into the narrative. Open mind and thick skin would also be beneficial to the reader.

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