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Naked Lunch: The Restored Text [Special Edition] [Paperback]

William Burroughs
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)

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Book Description

25 Jun 2009

A special 50th anniversary edition of the anarchic, phenomenally strong-selling classic from the godfather of the Beats, featuring the restored text, all the accompanying essays, and newly discovered material from the original manuscript.

Welcome to Interzone…

Say hello to Bradley the Buyer, the best narcotics agent in the business. Check yourself into the hospital where Dr Benway works – but don't expect adrenalin if you need it (the night porter shot it up for kicks). Meet Dr 'Fingers' Schafer, the Lobotomy Kid, and his greatest creation, 'The Complete American De-anxietized Man', a marvel of invasive psychiatry who has been reduced to nothing but a spinal cord.

Told by an Ivy League-educated narcotics addict, ‘Naked Lunch’ juxtaposes two journeys: the narrator's physical progress from America to North Africa, via Mexico, and a terrifying descent into his own altered consciousness. In this ‘Interzone’, loosely based on Burroughs' temporary home of Tangier, sex, drugs and murder are the most basic of commodities, and the basest desires have become completely banal.

Provocative, influential, morbidly fascinating and mordantly funny, ‘Naked Lunch’ takes us on an exhilarating ride through the darkest recesses of the human psyche – a ride which stunned the literary world when first published in the repressed 1950s, and is still guaranteed to épater more than a few bourgeois.

Over forty years since first publication, Burroughs scholar Barry Miles and Burroughs' longtime editor James Grauerholz have compiled this definitive restored text, correcting numerous errors that have accumulated over the years, and incorporating all of Burroughs' notes and accompanying essays. Most exciting of all, this edition includes an appendix of newly discovered, never before seen material – including alternate drafts from the original manuscript and letters from Burroughs’ private correspondence.

Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate; 50th Anniversary Edition edition edition (25 Jun 2009)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0007320906
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007320905
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 387,538 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


‘A true genius and first mythographer of the mid-twentieth century, William Burroughs is the lineal successor to James Joyce. “Naked Lunch” is a banquet you will never forget.’ JG Ballard

‘Prophesied with unerring accuracy the hideous modes that human behaviour would assume in the post-apocalyptic second half of the twentieth century. “Naked Lunch” is essential reading for anyone who maintains any illusions about anything.’ Will Self

‘William Burroughs broadened people’s conception of what makes humanity. In that way, he really was an American hero, a hero writer, and also just a great man.’ Lou Reed

‘A delirious exploration of sexual violence through the art of collage.’ Time Out

From the Back Cover


Say hello to Bradley the Buyer, the best narcotics agent in the business. Attend international playboy A.J.'s annual party, where the punch is to be treated with extreme caution. Meet Dr 'Fingers' Schafer, the Lobotomy Kid and his giant centipede, 'The Complete American De-anxietized Man.' And enter the dark and infernal mind of Bill Lee as he pursues his daily quest for the ultimate merchandise…

Provocative, influential, morbidly fascinating, Naked Lunch is an apocalyptic ride through the darker recesses of the human psyche.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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First Sentence
I CAN FEEL THE HEAT closing in, feel them out there making their moves, setting up their devil doll stool pigeons, crooning over my spoon and dropper I throw away at Washington Square Station, vault a turnstile and two flights down the iron stairs, catch an uptown A train . . . Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intellectual Nastiness 25 April 2011
I read this 20 years ago and was frustrated by its inability to fit into my conception of a comprehensible novel.Now what was once its greatest flaw seems to be its greatest asset.It is a collage of sometimes grim scenarios peppered with the odd titbit of medical/anthropological/sociological insight and probably literature's first attempt at abstract impressionism.
Obviously not for people with conservative tastes or delicate sensibilities.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A journey into paradox 9 Sep 2007
It took me several weeks to get into this book: then I got to half-way and suddenly felt comfortable with the style and the remainder got gobbled up in a couple of days. It is a very different "novel", and one which certainly won't appeal to everyone - particularly unsuitable for immature readers or religious fundamentalists of any persuasion. There is extensive explicit reference to heroin use and homosexuality throughout, with an often sadomasochistic or twisted medical angle.

The book's plot is loose to say the least, and the stream of consciousness style caused me great difficulty in the early stages. Once I realised that this was the books strength and started going with the flow, it became much easier to read and was highly enjoyable. Although the subject matter is often disturbing and the characters generally frightening and detestable, the prose is beautiful and often very poetic. Loose concepts such as Interzone, Islam Corp, Dr Benway etc are intimated like pieces of exquisite modern art.

If you think you won't huff and puff due to the references to homosexuality, drugs, casual violence, and florid prose, give this dizzying journey into dark beatnik fantasy a go. And hope you never have a GP called Benway...
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44 of 52 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Small doses before bed may work best 30 Dec 2003
By A Customer
Imagine you were able to recall all the weird dreams and nightmares you ever had in clear, vivid detail; taking in sights, smells, feelings, and those odd moments when the dream changes completely, but still - inconceivably, but somehow rationally - connected to the events of the moment before. Imagine you are a hopeless heroin addict, having sleeping and waking dreams compounded by an addict's hallucinations and paranoid excursions, often perceiving things through a trancelike psychosis. Imagine you have a pen in your hand. You've imagined William Burroughs disturbed, distorted and dreamlike prose. You've imagined what Naked Lunch would look and sound like.
That's my take on this almost impenetrable novel. It's fairly short by today's standards, but like old fashioned toffee - extremely chewy, time consuming and ultimately frustrating in all but small chunks. If the Naked Chef stripped down recipes to their bare essentials, then Naked Lunch is the complete opposite; a gorge-fest of dense, lyrical prose and vivid images melded together to form a collage around the subjects of addiction, sexual fascination and satire of the medical profession.
I gather this book doesn't employ the cut'n'paste narrative experiments of his later work, because with this book there is no coherent narrative. Yes, you could take any of these pages and put them pretty much anywhere and they would still make as much sense. But the cut up method implies a structured (but merely fragmented) narrative as many of us would know it. Naked Lunch is not like this. It is more random, flicking off onto tangents, as dreams do.
Does the sum of these Frankenstein parts add up to a meaningful whole? Well, that depends on what you enjoy in a book.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scary yet Fantastical 29 Nov 2001
I read this book, not knowing much about the author. The cover just drew me to it, (I know, books, covers, you shouldn't judge, but I couldn't help it). When I started reading it I thought, 'what?', but then I just couldn't put it down. I think it's probably a very good insight into the mind of a heroine addict, I can't be 100% sure on that as I am not a heroine addict, and I have to say that this book makes me very glad that I'm not. It is exceptionally dark in places and very grusome, messy even, but there are some very funny bits too. Read it now!
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bug-powder dust & mugwump jism! 20 Aug 2001
By Jason Parkes #1 HALL OF FAME
'Naked Lunch'(title courtesy of Jack Kerouac)is one of the key works of the 20th century...It is a reason why J G Ballard called Burroughs 'the lineal succesor to James Joyce' (tho' it is more readable than 'Finnegans Wake'!)...Along with the almost-straightforward autobiographies 'Junky' & 'Queer', 'N.L.' is the ideal introduction to Burroughs oeuvre.
This novel charts the underworld, the lowlife- mostly in a manner we have not seen before...Written in Tangiers, edited by Allen Ginsberg, this is a Beat-artefact and an advance for the form of the novel on a par with Beckett & B S Johnson...It is also darkly amusing, though you may want to dip in and out, rather than read it like a conventional novel...It would initiate Burrough's use of Gysin's cut-up method and lead us to such excellent succesors as 'The Soft Machine' & 'The Ticket that Exploded' (the true cut-up works)...It would influence film-makers (Cronenberg, Roeg) & pop-stars (David Bowie, Lou Reed, Patti Smith, David Bowie...)...It picks up & distorts the road created by 'Tropic of Cancer', 'Hunger', 'The Man with the Golden Arm', 'The Subterraneans', 'Our Lady of the Flowers', 'The Sheltering Sky', 'Howl' and so many other screaming texts...Even if you don't like it, you'll like it: at this price it would be a great loss not to own this masterpiece...
Read it only to see why writers like Irvine Welsh are p***ing in the wind, when writing on the topic of drugs...Burrough's writes for the future, in a futurist manner: Annexia is the ultimate fusion of Kafka & Orwell...
A classic... "Wouldn't you?"
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1.0 out of 5 stars Grow up. Cheer up.
I first read this book as a teenager. I cannot really remember what I thought of it, except that it was awesome. At this time, I also thought Beavis and Butthead were awesome. Read more
Published 13 days ago by James the King
1.0 out of 5 stars I am too middle aged for this
This is considered a classic of English literature, and had I read it in 1959 when it first came out, I might have been more inclined to agree. Read more
Published 20 days ago by Mrs. K. A. Wheatley
5.0 out of 5 stars Thanks
The book is in good condition. Have started to read but quite a difficult and shocking read, but will persevere.
Published 2 months ago by ccc
2.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly confusing
I understand that this book holds a degree of cultural relevance for the state in which it was written. However, it far too often reads like a series of incoherent ramblings. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Adam Weston
5.0 out of 5 stars "Phew"
Mind blowing experience all in text form.Something totally out of the ordinairy .Read and find out,make your own mind up
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Cannot fault the distributor. Very pleased with the condition and friendly professionality I received. I would recommend them to others.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
Wanted this book for a very long time but often put off buying it. Great value and the book itself is incredible, would recommend to anyone who enjoys the dystopian genre! Read more
Published 10 months ago by Paige
4.0 out of 5 stars William Burroughs - Naked Lunch | Review
Burroughs is known for his expletive-laden, sexually explicit, crazy and half-nonsensical novels, and Naked Lunch is the best of the best, the novel that catapulted him in to the... Read more
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1.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't finish book
I just couldn't finish this book; it's my second attempt at reading it but still no go. I couldn't understand the terminology and in the end I gave up.
Published 11 months ago by Froglady
5.0 out of 5 stars what's at the end of every fork..........
this book was the game changer, one of the most vital and original works of the previous century, the 'ramones 1st album' of literature, in my opinion, the best book ever written. Read more
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