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Naked Lunch: The Restored Text | [William S. Burroughs]

Naked Lunch: The Restored Text

Naked Lunch is one of the most important novels of the 20th century, a book that redefined not just literature but American culture. An unnerving tale of a narcotics addict unmoored in New York, Tangiers, and, ultimately, a nightmarish wasteland known as Interzone.
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Publisher's Summary

Naked Lunch is one of the most important novels of the 20th century, a book that redefined not just literature but American culture.

This is an unnerving tale of a narcotics addict unmoored in New York, Tangiers, and, ultimately, a nightmarish wasteland known as Interzone. The restored text includes many editorial corrections and incorporates Burroughs's notes on the text and several essays he wrote over the years about the book. For the Burroughs enthusiast and neophyte alike, this is a valuable and fresh experience of this classic of our culture.

©2001 William S. Burroughs Trust; (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"William was a Shootist. He shot like he wrote - with extreme precision and no fear." (Hunter S. Thompson, Rolling Stone)
"A masterpiece. A cry from hell, a brutal, terrifying, and savagely funny book that swings between uncontrolled hallucination and fierce, exact satire." (Newsweek)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.4 (179 )
5 star
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3.6 (102 )
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Story
4.1 (99 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Chris alameda, ca 10-11-12
    Chris alameda, ca 10-11-12 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Delightful rendition"

    Today I started listening to this again as I was re-organizing my audio library, couldn't shut it off, and was shocked to realize that I didn't review this when I first heard it. About the book: It will horrify a significant portion of the population. It is full of brutality, filth, pedophilia, profanity, etc. If you don't know what you are getting into, beware. At its best, it is brilliant satire. I give the story one star because there is no story, but there is not supposed to be. The book will more many of those readers that it doesn't offend. It contains some tedious repetition, and passages that could probably only be interesting if one is as wasted on drugs as the author was when he wrote it. It also contains many brilliantly inspired passages and images that have endured through the years.

    The thing that kept me listening again today is the narration. Every narration is necessarily just one interpretation of a book, and Bramhall puts a unique stamp on this one. His voice is a drawl, I suppose spun off of Burroughs' own, but much more extreme. You might like it or you might not, but I found his style enjoyable when I got used to it. The best part of it is the voices that he gives to the various characters. These interpretations are brilliant and hilarious.

    I do most of my reading at bedtime, and was unable to finish reading this book because it gave me nightmares (as it reportedly did to Jack Kerouac when he helped transcribe the original text). The audiobook let me get through it during my commute. It made me forget the work day.

    The audiobook is highly recommended to those who understand what they are in for.

    21 of 22 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andy Los Angeles, CA, US 06-16-13
    Andy Los Angeles, CA, US 06-16-13 Member Since 2006
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    "Brilliant prose, no story"

    The extraordinary prose seems to be stream of conscious recollections and fantasies of a brilliant writer/junkie who has seen the filthiest & most degrading underbelly of a drug addicts world mixed with at times vulgar, at times erotic and at times horribly sadistic sexual apparitions. After listening to three hours of the book I couldn't find the connective threads of a story. The narrator couldn't be better. He reads the material as if he has lived it but I need a story to sustain ten hours of listening.

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Glenn E. Mitchell II Tallahassee, FL USA 12-21-10
    Glenn E. Mitchell II Tallahassee, FL USA 12-21-10 Member Since 2006

    Mitch

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    "Great Narration, Excellent Novel"

    Granted, there will be people who object to the homophobia. Others will object to the drug addiction. Still others, to the utter amorality. Then, there will be those who object to all the profanity. I find Burroughs prose to be almost lyrical. The narration is dead on perfect for the main character and really pulled me into the novel. If you want a novel with a linear plot, you won't like The Naked Lunch. You could pull the chapters out and mix them up and read them in just about any order. Just as an addict losing focus and returning to reality, The Naked Lunch shifts through time and space. If you want some memorable vignettes about the human condition (in an R. Crumb comix kind of way), this novel will deliver.

    13 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Randy LANCASTER, CA, United States 03-09-12
    Randy LANCASTER, CA, United States 03-09-12 Member Since 2010

    Auto Repair shop owner. I love Yoga, and playing my Fender Stratocaster. I Walk my dogs twice a day.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "OMG!"

    This book is like watching a high speed train wreck in slow motion! You want to turn away because of the suffering and depravity you witness but somehow this book being read to you force feeds you in a way that sight reading can't.

    It struck me that if I read this book instead of listening to it, I would have missed the passion and message. The pictures Burroughs paints for us are so vivid and horrifying that if I were to read it I might turn away. But having it read to you, you have no choice but to sit there and take it though a few times I had to keep from running off the road!

    It is not to be missed simply because you find out that the band Steely Dan took this book as inspiration for their name.

    14 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Sydney 06-17-12
    Chris Sydney 06-17-12 Member Since 2012

    Tell us about yourself! I love to escape into a good book.

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    "Poetry from the Dark Side of the Soul"

    For a long time this book has been on my reading list.
    I am glad I approached it as an audible book, because I think the prose really lends itself to a performance piece.
    This is not a book with a beginning, middle and end. This is a stream of conscientiousness that is semi autobiographical.
    The author was addicted to heroin at the time of writing. Legend has it he took all of his work and cut it to pieces then re-joined the papers in random order.
    I love this book for the authors sheer audacity and dexterity with the English language.
    Now I know what all the hype was about.
    The Narrator Mark Bramhall was perfect for this book.

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tommy NEWPORT NEWS, VA, United States 06-13-13
    Tommy NEWPORT NEWS, VA, United States 06-13-13 Member Since 2012

    I want to feel good when I complete a story & am a little harsh on depressing ones. There are a few sad ones that I love but not many.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I really don't know how to explain it"

    This was an incredible thing...and I still don't know if I love it or hate it. I know that I couldn't stop listening to it.

    Burroughts is clearly an amazing writer and the book just flows from one area to the next but the story itself is hard to wrap your head around. I don't think that you can fully understand unless you have been trapped it the claws of addictions.

    I am really glad I listened and I will probably listen to it again just to try to digest more of the shocking and often disgusting story.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    T Cyr Missoula, MT United States 04-29-14
    T Cyr Missoula, MT United States 04-29-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Vivid! Tactile! Viseral!"

    I become as addicted to this audio book as much as the characters it was about! One of the most brilliant things I have listened to in a long time. The narration weaves an almost hallucinogenic series of vignettes that takes you to all these wacky places. It sucks you in and doesn't let up until is it over. I couldn't turn it off!!!! You could literally start with any chapter and play in any order. I am going to have fun with this one in a my library for a very long time. It was as prophetic today as when it was written in 1959. Predicting a sexual epidemic such as AIDS that would consume and ravish our culture. It's almost like you can feel it's throbbing pulse through every syllable uttered. Not for everyone has strong graphic episodes that become quite numbing!

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    andrew Bountiful, UT, United States 03-07-11
    andrew Bountiful, UT, United States 03-07-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Awesome except for all the boys and junk"

    This one starts off cool and powerful, with fantastic narration, but of the 10 hrs here, nearly 4 is composed of letters by the author, and about the book, telling you basically "Naked Lunch: him good medicine. Him you need. Powerful experience." Now, this is worth a look, but even of the little material here, much is redundant, often word for word repeatings, and there is no flow, little story, or point. Much of the material is psychotic, perverted, and pornographic, which is not as much fun as it would be if it did not involve 10 year old boys and murder, though if you like original ideas and images, then if nothing else, this may offer a very twisted nightmare. The author's angry explaination that these sexual murder scenes of little boys are to show how wrong capital punishment is seems forced at best. Get ready to read the following words at least five times per page: boy, junk, junkie, sick, needle, and 20 forms of genitalia and sexual abuse. Oh yeah and everyone messes their pants at least once per page. As for writing, some of it is very unique and strong and even mind-blowing, but every experience boils down to sex or injection, and most of the material was written down while hallucinating on drugs. Then the author met the Beat writers and got their special brand of macho world-changing confidence where anything he did must be the most important thing ever...not really. It is far less structured or normal than the movie, if you have seen that. Be very open minded or you won't last, and as for importance, well it seems not so much to be interested in exposing drugs as awful as making them seem cool, or at least, creating an authentic drug-free trip-out experience, which is achieved. But as far as that goes, what a boring gross world drug tripping is presented as. Why would anyone keep putting themself through this kind of imagery for years and years?

    19 of 24 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Koyaanisqatsi Lincoln, NE, United States 06-22-12
    Koyaanisqatsi Lincoln, NE, United States 06-22-12 Member Since 2011

    freedom please

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Again please."
    If you could sum up Naked Lunch in three words, what would they be?

    lost numbing cult


    What other book might you compare Naked Lunch to and why?

    Most other work outside the beat genre would be offended by a comparison.


    What about Mark Bramhall’s performance did you like?

    This was an almost perfect match for the narrator.


    If you could rename Naked Lunch, what would you call it?

    Fasten your seatbelt and make sure your tray is in the upright position.


    Any additional comments?

    Lude Crass & Indulging - if you want pretty, turn around now.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    chuck BADEN, PA, United States 03-01-13
    chuck BADEN, PA, United States 03-01-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "very dark crime story, full of charaters"
    What did you love best about Naked Lunch?

    full of dark crime story s of adult nature Some clues of 1950s and 1960s, and 70s drug use, and full of charaters


    What did you like best about this story?

    vivid imagination, alternative to the rest of the stories i have heard exept starwars


    Which scene was your favorite?

    the dr.benway story


    If you could take any character from Naked Lunch out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    none their storys are to vivid


    Any additional comments?

    a rated nc-17 to the younger listeners

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 15 results PREVIOUS12NEXT
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  • Joe
    Coventry, United Kingdom
    8/20/09
    Overall
    "Exquisitely written filth"

    The perfect antidote to the American stereo-type. Far from God fearing, clean cut and family valued pre-sixties America, the Naked Lunch explores the far out other extreme of drugs, sex and human depravity. Don't let this put you off!!! It is written in such an exquisite manner that I found myself recoiling at the subject matter but marvelling in the art of writing. The Naked Lunch is one of the most beautifully written and one of the the most depraved of books. Masterpiece of language, filth written art and very funny. The dichotomy split my mind time and again and I thoroughly enjoyed the master crafting that managed to mess so much with my head. Get it!!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Ant
    St Albans, United Kingdom
    11/11/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Defies a pithy title"

    To enjoy this book I had to let go of the concept of following a story and simply revel at the stunning imagery invoked by the insane streams of descriptive prose.
    I found I could listen for about an hour in a sitting and then have to take a pause and sift through the broken images stuffed into my head. I have to say, not all of them were pretty images.
    I found it hard to imagine this book being written in the late 50's and easy to imagine it causing a moral outrage. I can see how the book split people into two camps and understand people finding it offensive, however, I fall into the camp of people who saw a dark beauty in it. It has some of the most amazing descriptive scenes I can ever remember reading.
    I will read it again and have more Burroughs on my wish list.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Daniel Clay
    UK
    7/20/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Didn't get it."

    I absolutely loved Junkie, I smashed the book in 2 days. I was really looking forward to Naked Lunch, however I found it very difficult to follow and it didn't hold my attention.
    I found it really lacked narrative and what story there was, I didn't really follow.
    I found it a bit of a chore, not for me!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Neil S. Reddy
    England
    7/8/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "There's out there and then there's NAKED LUNCH"
    What made the experience of listening to Naked Lunch the most enjoyable?

    The virtually unreadable book becomes an incredibly entertaining experience as an audio book - this edition with notes and history is utterly fascinating - and still...out there alone and not giving a hoot!


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    A book of utterly awful, despicable and thoroughly amusing characters


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    The bit with the baboon - although I can't tell you why?


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The info about his own personal drug history is very insightful and throws a sharp light on current official drug policy


    Any additional comments?

    I read the book years ago and really didn't get it and if you're of a certain age you may be aware of the film - this recording knocks that into a hat and the book benefits greatly from being read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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