Naked Lunch: The Restored Text

Naked Lunch: The Restored Text

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Since its original publication in Paris in 1959, Naked Lunch has become one of the most important novels of the twentieth century. Exerting its influence on the relationship of art and obscenity, it is one of the books that redefined not just literature but American culture. For the Burroughs enthusiast and the neophyte, this volume—that contains final-draft typescripts, numerous unpublished contemporaneous writings by Burroughs, his own later introductions to the book, and his essay on psychoactive drugs—is a valuable and fresh experience of a novel that has lost none of its relevance or satirical bite.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802197610
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date: 12/01/2007
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 160,113
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

William S. Burroughs was born in St. Louis in 1914 and lived in Chicago, New York, Texas, Paris, Tangier, London, and Lawrence, Kansas, where he died in August 1997. He was the author of numerous books, including Naked Lunch, The Soft Machine, Nova Express, The Ticket that Exploded, and The Wild Boys, and was inducted as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. James Grauerholz was William Burroughs’s longtime manager and editor, and is now his literary executor.

Date of Birth:

February 4, 1914

Date of Death:

August 2, 1997

Place of Birth:

St. Louis, Missouri

Place of Death:

Lawrence, Kansas


Los Alamos Ranch School; A.B., Harvard University, 1936; graduate study, 1938

Table of Contents

Naked Lunch1
And Start West3
The Vigilante8
The Rube9
The Black Meat43
Lazarus Go Home58
Hassan's Rumpus Room62
Campus of Interzone University70
A.J.'s Annual Party74
Meeting of International Conference of Technological Psychiatry87
The Market89
Ordinary Men and Women101
Islam Incorporated and the Parties of Interzone121
The County Clerk141
The Examination155
Have You Seen Pantopon Rose?165
Coke Bugs166
The Exterminator Does a Good Job169
The Algebra of Need172
Hauser and O'Brien174
Atrophied Preface182
Quick ...195
Original Introductions and Additions by the Author197
Deposition: Testimony Concerning a Sickness [1960]199
Post Script ... Wouldn't You? [1960]207
Afterthoughts on a Deposition [1991]211
Letter from a Master Addict to Dangerous Drugs [1956]213
Burroughs Texts Annexed by the Editors231
Editors' Note233
Letter to Irving Rosenthal [1960]249
The Death of Mel the Waiter [undated]252
Outtakes: The Vigilante254
Outtakes: The Rube257
Outtakes: Benway264
Outtakes: The Black Meat266
Outtakes: Hospital269
Outtakes: A.J.'s Annual Party270
Outtakes: Islam Incorporated and the Parties of Interzone272
Outtakes: The Examination272
Outtakes: Coke Bugs279
Outtakes: Hauser and O'Brien281
Outtakes: Atrophied Preface282

What People are Saying About This

John Ciardi

"Only after the first shock does one realize that what Burroughs is writing about is not only the destruction of depraved men by their drug lust, but the destruction of all men by their consuming addictions... He is a writer of great power and artistic integrity engaged in a profoundly meaningful search for true values."

Terry Southern

"An absolutely devastating ridicule of all that is false, primitive, and vicious in current American life: the abuses of power, hero worship, aimless violence, materialistic obsession, intolerance, and every form of hypocrisy."

Norman Mailer

"A book of great beauty.... Burroughs is the only American novelist living today who may conceivably be possessed by genious."

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Naked Lunch 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 83 reviews.
FocoProject More than 1 year ago
Forget you ever read a book in your life. All the standards and rules and everything you have read up to this point, just toss it out the window because it will do you absolutely no good when reading this book. In fact, it will probably be detrimental. This is probably the most difficult book I have ever read. Literally. I sat down and read five pages. I put the book down and realized I had no idea what was going on. Sure that I must have missed something, I went back and read again. About twelve pages in, I again realized I was not getting it. Frustrated I put it away.

I started the book from the beginning three days later. I got to the part where I kept stopping and realized, there is no way I am going to force this book to make sense. So I had to shift a little, and make myself give in to the book instead, which for me is relatively uncomfortable. And yet, only in that manner was I able to sink into this hellish book.

If I were to describe this book in one line, it would include the words trip, crazy, troubling and edgy accompanied by a handful of expletives scattered around for good measure.

Once you give in to the book, prepare yourself to go on one of the most disturbing, surrealistic, humorous, perverted, unbelievable rides of your life. Take ¿Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas¿ and multiply it times four.

As a point of warning, this book is NOT for the average reader. It demands an open mind, because it deals with drugs, alcohol, substance abuse, sexuality, homosexuality and science fiction in very explicit ways. VERY. Though not overtly descriptive in a lot of cases, this book does have some scenes that will make the tamer side of the crowd cringe. It is not every day that an author describes a characters fright, by picturing him pissing and defecating all over himself. It is not every day that an author tells the story about a man that teaches his bonghole to talk. It does not make sense, it is not supposed to. The world that this author describes, which is at times in Mexico, Tangiers and the Interzone, is one that can not really be described as anything other than one massive sex, drug and violence trip.

Furthermore, sentences come at you broken and the story jumps from one scene to the next without following any rational thought. It is no secret that a lot of this was written while the author was under the influence and it shows. At times disgusting, twisted and at other times incredibly humorous, this book is going to test all literary conventions.

Armed with a collection of memorable characters such as junkies that believe themselves to be secret agents, or unscrupulous doctors that have absolutely no ethics¿this explosive book, is like a bullet, hard hitting and unforgiving. It will likely offend most readers in one way or another. But if you can find it within yourself to take yourself a bit more lightly, you may just enjoy it.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I can honestly say that until today I had never read a book that has made me gag, laugh, and cringe in pain uncontrollably over and over again. No one who is at all narrow minded will enjoy the book as well as most who consider themselves open minded. Let me say that I think just about every review I have read is exaggerating in one extreme or another. This is not trash that should be burned and never read by anyone. But it is also not a masterpiece, and obviously some people read way to much into it. The book definitely has a message (although it is hard to find) and it is new, fresh, and challenging. The book is no doubt extremely important and to a degree revolutionary but to say that it changed American culture is definitely a stretch.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is not for the faint of heart. It is not one those happy books that you can read before you go to bed. It is a dark journey through addiction and madness. It is a brilliant book that can never be replicated. It is a must read. It is a must own.
malignant_madness More than 1 year ago
I'll admit, Naked Lunch (as well as Junky and the rest of Burroughs' books) are NOT for everybody. In my opinion you either love his work or you hate it. I am one of those who love him and can't get enough of his writng. I've already reccomended this book many times over the years and still reread it a few times a year.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wonderful weird flake consistancy world half-life stillness. This book is like no other. The sentences are disjointed and the words are jumbled--all on purpose to give you the feel of a heroin addict taking notes. And it works. A book that changed the course of literature. Parts are extremely disturbing. Parts are beautiful. Take the journey.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Graphic material hard to follow at best! Wouldn't recommend if you are disturbed by nasty imagery! Book should have a 18 years and up reader rating, lol!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For my English Assignment I had to read a book and write review about it, I chose Naked Lunch the Restored Text. I have to agree it redefine American Culture, the book addicts you like William S. Burroughs was addicted to narcotics. He had written down mostly everything he had gone through while on the influence of drugs.  It made me go to a totally different world, at some points I didn’t know whether I should laugh or scream. Don’t get me wrong it is a good thing because in a world of happiness you’re always going to need pain.  This has to be one of my favorite books. I really enjoy sort of the side notes (if that’s what you call them) in text. The reason I read was because it was in the banned book list and I am rebel.  It was probably banned for every conceivable way a book should be banned, but who really cares.  If I were to recommend this to anyone it has to be to the people that are very open-minded or it won’t really make any sense to you. It is also difficult to read but once you get it, its genius.  
ArtL7 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The way to understand and enjoy this book best is on audiobook.....
librarianbryan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've said that Naked Lunch is the Rosetta Stone work by my favorite author for so long now its hard for me to know if either proposition is true anymore. It's been a number of years since I'd had read any of his works. The release of the first ever audio edition of his most famous, if not his finest, artistic artifact seemed the perfect opportunity for re-visitation. William Lee is a junky running West from the law. His consciousness slowly segues itself into a nightmare world called the Interzone. The chapters are in random order so the reader is constantly navigating shades of gray between ¿reality¿ so called and the Interzone. Burroughs calls upon his life long struggles with heroin addiction illustrate how all of are addicted and controlled by something, most importantly the controllers are addicted to controlling and the controlled addicted to being controlled. The majority of the scenarios Burroughs envisions are too horrific or obscene for me to mention here. They also are terribly funny. You'll be laughing your way past the graveyard and needle filled garbage dump. Like when ¿all American deanxietized man¿ is brought before the ¿international conference of technological psychiatry¿ and reduced to the ectoplasmic homicidal centipede he really is. As most critics have argued, Naked Lunch is a satire and Interzone is actually represents a place for more real than any of us would like to admit. It's the place were all our fears and most cynical assumptions about medicine, government, sex, and law are painfully true.The book is not some much pornographic as it is grotesque and it is not without good reason that Burroughs work is often compared with that of the painter Hieronymous Bosch. There is surrealism and there is horror but there is not sexual arousal. If it is pornography, it is pornography for psychopaths. Personally, I encountered this work as a teenager and after reading it any possibility of abusing opiate drugs was out the window. Since then I've only had to laugh/grimace at the thin veiled glamorization of heroin addiction that blossoms in the media every few years. Burroughs taught me early about the black putrid zombie death world addiction will transport you to. It won't transport you to hipster cruising with Jennifer Connelly and Jared Leto. Praise be to Blackstone Audio for hiring Mark Bramhall, a reader who understands the tone of the work and brings enough verve to enliven material that can be very difficult. In a lot of ways, it is a work that is meant to be read aloud. The most psychotic chapters are prose poem rants that need a certain umph in the delivery. Bramhall knows when to turn it on and off. His interpretation of some of my most beloved denizens grated me a bit (why give Dr. Benway a Texas accent), but this probably due to my being overly familiar with the material. Blackstone also did right releasing an audio edition of the so-called ¿restored text¿ which puts the novel itself first, and all the various introductions and appendices that have appeared over the years as supplemental materials in the back. For concerned parties this supplemental material will teach you everything you ever wanted to know about the writing and publication of this singular work. My final verdict: Naked Lunch remains the bug bomb of 20th century America. If your house has yet to fumigated, it's time to call the exterminator.
MaryWysong on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was the most incoherent ridiculous book I've ever read... but I guess that's the point. I had meant to read this book for years since I'm a Steely Dan fan, but didn't actually read it until it was required for a graduate English class. This was definitely controversial and class discussions mostly included one girl constantly ranting about how horrible and offensive it was. I think she missed the point and I couldn't help but roll my eyes at her ongoing rants.I did not enjoy this book one bit. It was, as I said, incoherent and nonsensical. It was also filled with degrading scenes and disgusting descriptions written simply for the sake of being shockingly nasty. I will never read this book again.That said, I think it's important to be open minded about the point of the book. It wasn't meant to be a fun little fairy tale. It was supposed to portray the life of a junkie and that it does. It certainly has its intended effect, although I think that it could have the same effect with one third of the length.
campingmomma on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the first book I have read of his & the guy is a NUT JOB!!!! Though it is a realtively small book, it took a couple of weeks to read orig. intro.'s & additions by the author along with the texts annexed by the editors.In the chapters that weren't overtly sexually descriptive, Burroughs writes with such delineation that I started to wonder how much of the delineation was true and factual and how much was just his f___ed up, drug induced imagination'This book took longer to read because it was sooo....I don't know the right word?! The writing is intense interesting & requires intelligience to read. My problem was that it didn' t seem to be a story, just a random set of chapters in the same book; or something like that.
ungoliant on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Looks like I¿m not a fan of beat literature. I started On the Road when I was 15 and stopped after 30 miserable pages, and getting through Naked Lunch was like pulling teeth.
elissajanine on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a book I've left full of pink post-its a folded pages (I know, I'm one of those!) Even before reading about Burroughs' use of the cut-up technique, I loved the way motifs, images, and lines repeated throughout the narrative, like a pattern of interweaving hallucinogenic nightmares laced with a line of lucid satire. There are all these memorable characters and bits in each "routine", and I suppose some of them were more entertaining to me since I have heard recordings of them being performed by Burroughs in that inimitably awesome voice. "The man's not to be trusted. Might do almost anything...Turn a massacre into a sex orgy....Or a joke.... Precisely. Arty type...No principles." I'm glad I finally read it!
joelshults on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It was an interesting read. I stopped halfway through and read another book and almost didn't come back to it. This book is definitely more in the Beat style of Allen Ginsberg than the Beat style of Jack Kerouac. Although it is called a novel, it is similar to a lot of Beat poetry from the same era. I feel like I used to enjoy this type of book a lot more in my younger days. So it goes, I guess, our tastes are ever-changing.
octopusphil on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love Burroughs' character in On the Road, or at least i get a little envious of having a house in the counrty outside of new orleans, not sure about the heroin... i go back and forth with this title. a week in a halucitory state from herion withdrawl wrote most of this one, i think i even read once that Burroughs didnt even remember writting it.. but i have to appreciate the scope of cultural voice that it provides, and in this arena i think it screams.
shawnd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Hated it. Can the man write? Yes. So too bad it's ruined by pornography. Way too explicit, enough said, disgusting acts that are probably illegal, certainly stomach turning. The parts where he talks about the druggie community and addiction and withdrawal are enlightening. And I'm sure this is some kind of cult classic and I'm not prurient at all but this was too much.
PeeringFromTheCosmos on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm not quite sure what I think of this book. When I began it I did not have much knowledge of what it was about, I had just known about WillIam Burrough's reputation and influence in the world of writing. So I casually picked this book up one day, and upon starting it, it had actually angered me, or some other form of distrubance/disgust stemming from unknowingly jumping into a novel that is much like a day that drags on for 48 hours, filled with the hysteria of a drug induced confusion, complete with the strange and dark shadows that emerge when coming down, and the dirty, raw sexual lust that most people deny completely.I was not expecting this.. and at first I hated the book. I hated it for the lack of plot, for the long winded, confusing whirlwind of experiences that had no reference to a plot or a continuum of experience (or so it seemed). But then about halfway through I began to think more of the actual experience I had during my journey through this book and it clicked. I had put aside my disdain for it's unconventionality and began to realize that the response from the book must be somewhat like what this character (or characters) in this book must be experiencing.Now that I am done with the book I have come to appreciate it for what it was meant to be. I was disgusted, shocked, annoyed, and intrigued, and the year is 2009. I cannot imagine what it would have been like reading this around the time it was finally published. So in summation I have to say I didn't necessarily 'enjoy' reading this book, it was more like I couldn't turn away from it.. it was a guilty intrigue that made me stick it out to the end, and when I finally put it down I wanted to crack it open and peer into it again. Which is the point of this book in my opinion.. just like the junk fiend.
uthor on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I struggled with this book for a month. After only getting half way through it and seeing no redeeming value, I had to put it away (sadly, the second book I have never finished reading).I'm okay with the violence, drug use, sex, and depravity, but there is nothing in the prose beyond that. It is offensive for offensive's sake. The first chapter or two promised a greater narrative with the narrator moving through the druggie society and avoiding the law, but it quickly devolves into hallucination upon hallucination and not much else.The "prose as poetry" writting doesn't help, turning any coherence into a dreamlike sequence. It's fine if you're into that type of writing, but I find it difficult to read.
bfr2210999 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A horrible, disgusting mess. The essence of addiction. Everything terrible about the mind of man thrown in a blender and set to frappe. A long distance endurance race through grotesque imagery. Highly recomended.
LynnB on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is a product of the "Beat Generation" and, as a baby boomer, I found it hard to relate. The author says he wouldn't "presume to impose a story or plot" and he lives up to this promise. But, there are some powerful, thought-provoking images and a few laughs along the way. The author best described the book himself when he said it "will spill off the pages in all directions".
ChristaJLS on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Throughout this book there were a number of times where I thought ¿This book is exactly what I expected and at the same time nothing like I expected¿. Now that I've finished it I can think of no better way to sum up my feelings towards it. Burroughs penned this work while suffering from a very severe addiction to ¿junk¿ and as a result the book does not follow a traditional narrative and I often had no idea where he was going to take me next or whether or not what I was reading was part of the story or just a random thought that had materialized in his heroin addicted mind. Though this could make it difficult to read at times it also made it exciting and surprising.The parts I found the most well written and clear, often revolved around descriptions of fictional dystopian communities. I found these sections chilling and they effectively communicated how little faith Burroughs held in humanity (or the ¿human virus¿). Of these sections the descriptions of the world Annexia and that of the Divisionists and their replicas were my favourite and the paranoid idea of the future held within those passages made me want to keep reading.I do believe that this book is an amazing piece of literature, even in the midst of chaos Burroughs manages to find moments of clarity which truly reveal the dark and twisted world he was buried in. For example on page 56, when he states ¿I woke up with someone squeezing my hand, it was my other hand¿. Nevertheless, there were still parts that disgusted me or that I thought were unnecessary and although later a sober Burroughs tried to explain the satire of characters like the Mugwump, I am still not convinced.It is a book that you need to go into being prepared for whatever it will throw at you. It is one for which you will need to forget what a novel is supposed to be. It will most definitely shock and surprise as you follow Burroughs twisted ¿narrative¿ to...well to nowhere really. If you get the chance, the afterword written by a sober Burroughs later in life is a sobering finale which reminds us that this wasn't just a book but a living nightmare. At the beginning of Naked Lunch, Burroughs himself unknowingly provides us with, what I think is the most accurate way to describe his writing. He states ¿be just and if you can't be just, be arbitrary¿. That is exactly what this book is, arbitrary and bizarre but at the same time the most accurate account Burroughs could give into the mind of a junkie.
rurugby on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellent book -- one of the most coherent of Burroughs' work
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I want to buy this nook book but it's priced 30% higher then the paperback version! This abuse must stop! I've had enough.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Everything every reviewer said about it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very hard to follow, even when you got the 60's refrences. There was a laugh or two between completely incomprehensible paragraphs. I wanted to like it, but couldn't.