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Naked Lunch: The Restored Text Paperback – 15 Apr 2010

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Naked Lunch: The Restored Text + Junky: The Definitive Text of 'Junk' (Penguin Modern Classics) + Howl, Kaddish and Other Poems (Penguin Modern Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (15 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007341903
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007341900
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,892 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


‘Not a novel but a booty brought back from nightmare, a coldly implacable look at the dark side of our nature.’ New York Times

‘A roller-coaster ride through hell, a safari to the strangest people of the strangest planet – ourselves…sit back and gorge yourself on this feast of a novel.’ J. G. Ballard

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

‘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

Praise for William Burroughs:

'Burroughs is the greatest satirical writer since Jonathan Swift.' Jack Kerouac

'Burroughs' voice is hard, derisive, inventive, free, funny, serious, poetic, indelibly American, a voice in which one hears transistor radios and old movies and all the clichés and all the cons and all the newspapers, all the peculiar optimism, all the failure.' Joan Didion

'The only American novelist who may conceivably be possessed by genius.' Norman Mailer

'In the English language, William Burroughs is the greatest writer alive. His imagination has tackled head-on the post-war world, with its huge bureaucracies and sinister complexes. He has a paranoid vision, but as he himself said: the psychotic is someone who knows what's really going on.' J. G. Ballard, Sunday Times

‘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

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.

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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

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By nicholas hargreaves on 25 April 2011
Format: Paperback
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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48 of 55 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 30 Dec 2003
Format: Paperback
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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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Robert C. Hayward on 9 Sep 2007
Format: Paperback
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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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By "gillongenk" on 29 Nov 2001
Format: Paperback
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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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By James the King on 26 Jun 2014
Format: Paperback
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. Re-reading it a couple of decades later, I can only conclude that Naked Lunch is so self-consciously repulsive and provocative that only a teenager would find it amusing. Not a chapter goes by without countless “look-at-me” dirty words and singularly vile ideas, including but not limited to any and every conceivable kind of sexual malpractice, such as child sodomy and various creative forms of rape.

Is there a point to it all? Well, not really. Naked Lunch was intended to be the deranged scrawlings of a mind shredded by years of truly heroic drug intake. It was also intended to be as foulsome, offensive and controversial as conceivably possible. For a book written in the 1950s, it is astonishingly daring. This, however, adds limited value.

More than anything, the whole thing just feels so… immature. Like I said, think Beavis and Butthead. I am neither impressed nor shocked by the C-word, no matter how many times you use it per page. Nor are stories of sexual deviancy particularly amusing. Nor do I find it appealing in any way to be dragged through such a pointlessly bleak and unpleasant world, especially when there is no pay-off. To be absolutely clear, I am not someone who is easily offended or put off by gloomy cheerlessness – I love Cormac McCarthy for Pete’s sake – but Naked Lunch amounts to such a dreary experience.

By the end of the first few chapters I found myself a little tired of being repulsed, and just plain bored by the cultivated misery of it all. By the end of the book, I couldn't wait to move on to something a bit cheerier. Like Jude the Obscure.
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