Rereading Naked Lunch

Discussion in 'Beat and Hippie Books' started by GregTheMagician, Jul 13, 2009.

  1. GregTheMagician

    GregTheMagician Senior Member

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    so, I started rereading Naked Lunch recently. It makes sooooo much more sense the second time through. I've also read through Burrough's Nova Trilogy (like Nova Express the best) so i've also got some more background from when i first read it.

    Anyone else on here read Naked Lunch? or any of Burroughs other material?
     
  2. Magpiethief

    Magpiethief Guest

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    I actually just finished Naked Lunch the other day (for the first time) and I gotta say it's probably the most messed up book I've ever read. I don't see how ANY sense could ever be derived from it, but entertaining nonetheless. I heard about him after reading a few Kerouac works and then learned that he wrote a lot about addiction and heroin so that interested me, but some of the stuff in that book, would just not be appropriate for me to even talk about...ever.
     
  3. gEo_tehaD_returns

    gEo_tehaD_returns Senior Member

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    Naked Lunch makes sense under some circumstances?

    Incredible! This I must see for myself.
     
  4. standingseated

    standingseated A Back Scrubber

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    If you look around, there's a bit torrent of an audio recording of Burroughs reading it. Or, you just might be able to buy it.

    Anyway, I liked it. I don't think it's as brilliant as many of his friends did when they read it. It's not a work of timeless genius. It's pretty good, and really funny in many places. Good imagery. Lots of truth. It does a good job of taking you into the feel of the life of a junkie, I suppose. Anyone who's read about it knows about all the problems most critics have with it, and I can appreciate their concerns. It's not the work of a novelist, that's for sure.
     
  5. GregTheMagician

    GregTheMagician Senior Member

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    well it makes more sense the second time around.

    the first time i didn't know what "get me a quart of PG and a hundred nembies" meant. but i know now, that PG stands for Paregoric a medicinal syrup with opium in it, and nembies is slang for Numbutal, a barbituate.

    I didn't know what MS stood for (morphine sulfate). when I read all the graphic sex depictions i had no idea what was going on in terms of the "plot" (I understand now). everything just makes more sense.

    now don't get me wrong, it's still a pretty bass ackward book, but i can see alot more clearly now.
     
  6. Vana

    Vana Member

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    Naked Lunch broke my brain. I liked Junky better.
     
  7. GregTheMagician

    GregTheMagician Senior Member

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    Well, Junky is more of a straight forward novel. Much less of the crazyness that is Naked Lunch. Junky is really more of a pulp fiction type novel tho.

    It wasn't untill Naked Lunch that Burroughs would start getting really experimental in his writings. Although Naked Lunch did take some of the "pulp fiction type" narative into some of its structure.
     
  8. Vana

    Vana Member

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    It's just... I've been reading K's Deolation Angels, then I jumped to Naked Lunch. I've decided on some nice, easy reading by Mary Shelley's mother.
     
  9. Forrest Armstrong

    Forrest Armstrong Member

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    I love Naked Lunch. The section in it called "The Vigilante" (the second section, right after "And Start West") is some of the best poetry-in-prose ever written. It definitely changed the way I write.

    As far as making sense... it's not even worth trying. But it does make sense in a moment-to-moment way, without trying to imply a larger, more encompassing structure. Burroughs wrote picaresque novels, which is kind of like spots on a timeline grouped together instead of the whole timeline of a story. All his books, besides Junky and Queer, are pretty much like that, so anyone having trouble with Naked Lunch oughta give Junky a shot - it's all the same information without the experimentality and disjointedness.
     
  10. Timewriter

    Timewriter Member

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    The 100th time it makes even less sense and means more...
     
  11. pinkfloyd50437

    pinkfloyd50437 Member

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    im glad to see this posts. i thought maybe there was somthing wrong with me. i want to get it but i just dont.
     
  12. FunHogg

    FunHogg Senior Member

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    First, get rid of the idea that you're reading a novel. Naked Lunch is basically a series of scenes, or "routines" as Burroughs called them. He once stated that you could read the book backwards, or open it in the middle and read it inside out...it would be just as coherent (or not) either way.

    Naked Lunch was written in an opiate haze and Burroughs never intended to write it as a novel. The various routines were written at different times and weren't intended as a continuous narrative.

    You have to abandon those preconceived notions we all have about novels and traditional books. Reading Burroughs is very different than reading Steinbeck or crap like Jackie Collins. It's just not the same.

    I didn't know any of this when I first read it and the book made no sense to me. That's because I assumed I was reading a novel. I stuck with it, read it again and again and learned more by reading other works of his and essays by him and others about his work.

    I agree with one of the posts above that hearing Burroughs read his work gives you a much better handle on it. There are CD's you can buy that are very good. The Naked Lunch CD is a good one if you want to get some insight on the text. A couple of other good audio sources are "Call Me Burroughs" and "Break Through in Grey Room" which mostly focus on later books and "cut-up" audio pieces he recorded in the sixties. There's a wealth of torrents available of Burroughs reading his work, giving lectures at Naropa Institute, interviews and other cut-up material...hours and hours of it.

    It also helps to keep in mind that Burroughs was an avid Sci-Fi reader, a practicing magician (think Alleister Crowley, not David Fucking Blaine) and was very interested in exploring the boundaries of personal freedom. All these things inform his work and helps the reader understand his work better.

    Okay...that was long. Yes, I'm an official Burroughs geek.
     
  13. lona

    lona Member

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    i started reading naked lunch years ago but didn't finish it. i really have to give it another try, as i'm older now and especially after reading the book "and the hippos were boilded in their tanks" a novel by kerouac and burroughs. just love the beat-generation books.
     
  14. braininavat2

    braininavat2 Member

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    I love Burroughs the man as a biographical character and especially his voice..
    As a writer though IMO he is absurdly overrated. So many other great books, just don't see what the point in wasting time with him is.

    I use to have this sound clip of him that I wish I could remember where I got it..good for the season.
    In Burroughs voice:
    "One night I was haunted by 3 angry demons, so I got out my rifle and BLEW THEM AWAY! Then I remembered it was Halloween..and I had shot an 8yo"
     
  15. BlackBillBlake

    BlackBillBlake resigned HipForums Supporter

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    After his period of experimental writing, cut-ups etc, Burroughs returned to a more narrative style in the later trilogy 'cities of the red night', 'Western Lands', 'Place of Dead Roads', and other later stuff such as 'Ghost of Chance' - all of which I'd highly recommend.

    Naked Lunch, and the other experimental books are very interesting. Probably the only other author I can think of with whom WSB can be compared is Samuel Beckett. Both were trying to break down structure, both portray extremes of weird human conditions. Both have a unique if somewhat black sense of humor.

    There are some interesting sound archives of Burroughs here (scroll to bottom of page):

    http://www.archive.org/search.php?s...ediatype:collection AND firstCreator:B&page=2
     
  16. Altered Ego

    Altered Ego Member

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    I have a copy laying around somewhere, it's definitely worth a second look :)

    My favorite Burroughs book is Cities of the Red Night. I would mos def like to read it again! I haven't even read the others in the trilogy yet. So much to read, so little time...
     

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