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Nudist Dinner

March 10, 2011

So following up on my previous post finished The Naked Lunch by William Burroughs. I thought this book was absolutely brilliant: It’s a bizarre, twisted and disturbing journey through the psyche of a “junky”, whilst somehow managing to be a very (admittedly explicit) humorous parody of the American dream and white-picket-fence culture. Since reading the book I’ve read a couple of reviews and some people seem keen to write it off as druggie (I wouldn’t consider myself one of these, although I’m far from anti substance-abuse) paraphernalia. However I found the brutally illicit nature of the book completely in keeping with what is to some extent an allegorical representative of the disillusioned, hedonistic, anarchistic movement Burroughs was a part of.

On a slightly random note I was hugely impressed by the extent and accuracy of the medical descriptions and metaphors in the book, including a reference to Ainhum Disease, which I only know about because I came across it on a trip to Rwanda last year.

At times I found this a difficult text to read – difficult, but absorbing , in the same way that Joyce’s Ullyses is difficult but utterly enveloping at the same time. I really do think this  book pushed forward the boundaries of literature in the style of its surreal, hard to follow, dream-like narrative, as well as its obvious (and famous) influence on censorship legislation in the US. In my opinion Burroughs possessed that extremely rare genius of completely involving his audience whether they had any idea what was going on at all. Finishing The Naked Lunch is a bit like waking from a sex dream: reluctant, breathless, aroused and occasionally a little messy.

Incidentally I also found this picture of Mr Burroughs himself who sadly died in 1997 from a heart attack. It’s a shame and he will be very missed, but if you can track down a video of him on Youtube it’s well worth a look for his cutting, dry voice if nothing else.

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