Naked Lunch

by William S. Burroughs

Naked Lunch CoverNaked Lunch should be thought of less as a book and more as an undertaking. It took me multiple attempts to trudge through the “narrative” and actually––I assume––somewhat walk away with a bit of understanding of what I witnessed. I will also admit that the humour passed me by more-or-less unnoticed until this time around, disguised in––sometimes, going hand-in-hand with––layers of disgust, discomfort, and homo-eroticism.

It would be a major understatement to say that Naked Lunch is something of an oddity. Having read other experimental and avant-garde stories, I can feel Burroughs’ caress on later fiction, but nothing has been quite the same. Burroughs wrote in disjointed passages, apparently so that you can pick up the book from wherever without missing out on any plot points, if you can be so generous to suggest that anything in this book encapsulates much of a plot. I have never attempted to do anything other than read from front to back, so I’ll have to go on his word. (For the most part, I can imagine that it’s just as difficult to understand in any order; however, the skeptic in me notices that the flow may be negatively affected if spread-apart passages with verbatim repetition are read back-to-back.)

In the end, to invoke a cliché, Naked Lunch is an oxymoron: It’s both hilarious and sinister, the chilling prose of a master and the ramblings of a lunatic. I quite seriously look upon it as fine art, but it’s, most definitely, not for the faint of heart.