Michael Kneeland's Reviews > Naked Lunch

Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs
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Jun 26, 12

Read in December, 2003

I'm not an uber beat generation guru, but I'm fairly certain that Naked Lunch is the final destination to the journey started by Jack Kerouac in On the Road . It is very rhythmic (try reading it out loud) but also incredibly stream-of-conscious, much more so than Kerouac's novel (and he can get pretty damn stream-of-conscious).

This novel depicts the life (if you want to call it that) of a junkie in the '60s who travels from America to Mexico and finally lands [halfway across the globe] in Tangier. He is helplessly (and carelessly) addicted to several drugs, notably heroin and morphine. He will rip off just about anyone just to score. And he's reckless. Shamelessly reckless.

So why did I give this novel four stars? Because, through all the craziness and chaos of the novel's narration, there is a lucidly clear depiction of alienation and loneliness in the modern world. The novel's main character, William Lee (though we might as well call him William S. Burroughs), is chased by the police, drug dealers, and even a "notorious liquifactionist" from the Interzone (you know where that is, right?) named Hassan. He is not safe or sound anywhere, not even alone with himself. He is literally apart from society.

And what is the root of his painful alienation? Well he is, of course.

Who else was the cause of their own alienation? Oh, that's right: Holden Caulfield, Jay Gatsby, Stephen Dedalus, Odysseus, Aeneas, Ralph (if you've read the novel he's in, you'll know him), Randall Patrick McMurphy...hell, let's even throw Grendel on this list. Like "William Lee," each of these characters shows us just how human it is to paradoxically crave acceptance into society while we simultaneously push ourselves away.

Being a human can sometimes suck big time, and Naked Lunch depicts this unabashedly.

And nakedly.
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message 1: by Margarita (new) - added it

Margarita I looked up for this book after seen it in a pile of a collection someone posted of books they'll love to re read. I came here to GR to read the summary of it and well it didn't even skim thorough the plot so thanks for your review! It was so much more insightful and I'm now going to add this to my list :)


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