Meghan Fidler's Reviews > Naked Lunch

Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs
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May 03, 12

bookshelves: american-literature
Read from April 17 to 23, 2012

If it wasn't for the added text at the end of the book, this narrative would be lost...lost in my mind, a mind which has not experienced the consciousness produced by heroin, opium, or cocaine. The text is filled with the details of bodies and minds which are experiencing these altered mindsets, which the following three excerpts will adequately demonstrate:

So after a bit the channels wear out like veins, and the addict has to find new ones. A vein will come back in time, and by adroit vein rotation a junky can piece out the odds if he don’t become an oil burner. But brain cell don’t come back once they’re gone, and when the addict runs out of brain cells he is in a terrible fucking position.

Squatting on old bones and excrement and rusty iron, in a white blaze of heat, a panorama of naked idiots stretches to the horizon. Complete silence—their speech centers are destroyed—except for the crackle of sparks and the popping of singed flesh as they apply electrodes up and down the spine. White smoke of burning flesh hangs in the motionless air. A group of children have tied an idiot to a post with barbed wire and built a fire between his legs watching with bestial curiosity as the flames lick his thighs. His flesh jerks in the fire with insect agony.

...Iris—half Chinese and half Negro—-addicted to dihydro-oxyheroin--takes a shot every fifteen minutes to which end she leaves droppers and needles sticking out all over her. The needles rust in her dry flesh, which here and there, has grown completely over a joint to form a smooth green brown wen. One the table in front of her is a samovar of tea and a twenty-pound hamper of brown sugar. No one have ever see her eat anything else. It is only just before a shot that she hears what anyone says or talks herself. Then she makes some flat, factual statement relative to her own person.
‘My asshole is occluding.’
‘My cunt got terrible green juices.’

--I was completely at a loss. Without experiences with these heavy hitting narcotics (no, the little baby buds and shot glasses wont do it) it is a jumble of noncoherenece, of a world I care not to dabble in. Burroughs wrote the text while in this world, which is why I might have been able to forgive the perversity for shock value.
What I can not forgive about this book is, perhaps, an aspect of Burroughs himself. Women are carriers of pestilent disease and morality, wrapped with a labia made into a pretty little ribbon (notice depiction of the women above. This is the norm of all the descriptions of women in the book). There is no room for the female sex in Burroughs' homosexuality. And it appears that homosexual partnerships can only become domestic and tranquil with the destruction of the female sex (want to play 'William Tell,' my wife?). Here is a brief snippet of the domestic tranquility achieved at dinner time by a gay couple, where one man directs the other:

'You just go in the other room and wait.’ Playfully he shoos Jim out of the kitchen, and puts on his apron.
Dinner is Lucy Bradshinkel’s cunt saignant cooked in Kotex Papillion. The boys eat happily looking into each other’s eyes. Blood runs down their chins.’


Oh, delightful. I'm sure others would argue that this is a fine depiction, for the book also includes descriptions of men hanging little boys while they screw them--yes, they die while ejaculating--but I find none of it acceptable. The blurring of drugs and sex and pain and violence and rape may be a "lifestyle," but making a career out of selling it to other people is disturbing.
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message 1: by Lea (new)

Lea this is one of the few books in the world where i actually liked the movie better.


Meghan Fidler They made a fricken MOVIE outta this?!?!?!?


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