Boxall's 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die discussion

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Specific List Books > Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs

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message 1: by Elizabeth (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:58PM) (new)

Elizabeth (candlestick) | 12 comments I read Naked Lunch by William Burroughs over Thanksgiving break. I am trying to make sense of some of the scenes. It was an awesome idea though, writing all of his hallucinations down from when he was a junky. I wonder if his experiences and advice, in the back of the book and the introduction, helped anyone with their own addictions. People... tell me your thoughts on this novel!


message 2: by Lauren (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:59PM) (new)

Lauren (lorrietruck) | 1 comments I hated Naked Lunch, hated having to make sense of it, and it mainly grossed me out. But I am kind of squeamish. Mainly just found it a struggle to get through.
I much preferred Junky by William Burroughs. Had more of a narrative, more coherant (as coherant as a book can be about addiction), just better.


message 3: by Arukiyomi (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:59PM) (new)

Arukiyomi | 264 comments Dear All,

I notice a lot of requests for the list. THis is not an email service ;-) but if you do want to mosey on over to Arukiyomi, you can download Arukiyomi's 1001 books spreadsheet and get reading.


message 4: by Elizabeth (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:03PM) (new)

Elizabeth (candlestick) | 12 comments Hey Lauren,
I'm sorry to hear that you didn't like it. Did you read his Introduction in the beginning? I look forward to reading Junky. Thanks for your thoughts.


message 5: by Meg (new)

Meg | 7 comments I found Naked Lunch to be a hallucinatory experience--especially since I read it (years ago) while baby-sitting, sitting in a trailer park in Kansas next to a sunny pool full of splashing kids. I was in a haze for daze. I've never taken heroin, but I kinda felt like I had.


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Naken Lunch is pretty amazing. For me, it's one of the few books that completely eschews linear development. The scenes, to me, seem to be all pretty similar in the feeling they convey, so instead of a beginning-middle-end story, its much more about compounding one feeling until it becomes enormous and overwhelming. I loved it.


message 7: by Mari (new)

Mari | 6 comments I agree with the last comment. The purpose of the novel (and indeed it's beauty) comes from the non-linear structure of the text. The Beat generation despite some people's beliefs, did do a lot of experimentation with form in every way. However, even before Burroughs, you had the stream of consciousness writers who were doing the same things. They did make it into a movie and while it is good to understand the cultural aspects of the time, it really doesn't jive with the novel. However, I secretly suspect the big rumor that Burroughs was sober at the time of writing this novel to be false. The man had a drug habit at the age of 11 for pete's sake!


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

I enjoyed Naked Lunch, but I enjoyed Junky much more, and would say that althought Naked Lunch was revolutionary when it was posted, I'd argue that Junky is more worty of inclusion on the list.


message 9: by Tim (new)

Tim (sparklin) | 8 comments I read Naked lunch many years ago, then I saw the movie. Both were an interesting experience.

Tim


Abigail (42stitches) | 13 comments I felt like it was two totally different books. Like Full Metal Jacket. There is one plot and it follows. Half way through and without warning, it is something completely different. Not to say I disliked it, but I was a little confused...


message 11: by Monika (new)

Monika (marriedmurder) | 7 comments it was an OK book....i was happy I read it, and it kept me interested throughout. no complaints.


message 12: by Ariel (new)

Ariel | 4 comments I read the book and saw the movie. Both are very interesting in their respective languages....


message 13: by Emily (new)

Emily (mizparker) | 10 comments I thoroughly hated it when I first struggled through it, but the more I think about it, the more I might not have hated it as much as I think I do. It's one that keeps sneaking into my thoughts.

I heard recently, that Naked Lunch is best read by opening to a random section, then reading that particular vignette, and marking off the ones you've read already, until you have read them all. That makes sense to me, and I may re-tackle it in that fashion. It's not like if you read it straight through, you get a plot. I think reading it at random might even make it a little more hallucinatory for the reader. I'm not sure.


message 14: by Lisa (new)

Lisa James (sthwnd) | 352 comments Because this is in my bookbag of just checked out of the library books, & I have never seen the movie, or knew anything about the author as a man, I was interested to read everyone's opinions on this. I especially liked the read at random take on it. That sounds so random it makes sense to me, LOL! Looking forward to reading it now!


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

I read it and I let it wash over me and tried to experience it as it happened. I liked it but I liked an audio recording from Burroughs a good bit more called "Spare Ass Annie". Somehow, hearing him read aloud was more enjoyable. Having said that, I don't think I would reread it.


message 16: by Ellen (new)

Ellen (KarenVirginiaFlaxman) | 26 comments Emily wrote: "I thoroughly hated it when I first struggled through it, but the more I think about it, the more I might not have hated it as much as I think I do. It's one that keeps sneaking into my thoughts. ..."

I agree, Emily. There's no plot to "Naked Lunch", and I don't think it matters if one just opens to any page and reads. It's mostly hallucinations Burroughs experienced while using anyway. Of its literary value I've never been exactly certain, but I do enjoy the reading the books and poetry of his cohorts, the "Beats". Thanks.


message 17: by Lisa (new)

Lisa James (sthwnd) | 352 comments Ok, I used the open at will method combined with some skimming & just finished it. I'm not squeamish in the least, 14 years in the Navy & raising 5 kids tends to burn that tendency out of a person. However, as much as I understood that it was "trips" he was describing, I found the highly graphic sexuality, which to me was bordering on porn, offensive. SOME of it was redeeming, the descriptions of things when he wasn't hallucinating were edgily funny. Mostly I found this book to be sad. Sad not in the classic sense, but sad in the sense that it gives an insight into a tripping mind that's addicted to drugs, & sadder still that it was included on a 1001 list of books that are supposed to be the best books in literature. This one surely was NOT.


message 18: by mark (new)

mark monday (happy-end-of-the-world) it took me three tries to get through Naked Lunch. the first two times, i was filled with equal amounts of boredom, incomprehension, and disgust. well third times a charm i guess, because in the end i thought it was fascinating. i think it is a lot more than reading a drug trip on page as recounted by a person who is literally on a drug trip. there's a lot more going on there. there's much about addiction, of course, but it is also about systems of control and of repression. it is also pretty meta in its re-structuring and re-shaping of narrative, character, prose itself. which, given its status as a classic of postmodern literature, is not a surprise i suppose.


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