Thursday, May 06, 2010

Naked Lunch Does Suck

Most of my friends are avid readers, and to my puzzlement, many of them have loved the odious Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs. Especially back in the mid-80s when we were immersed in the Minneapolis music scene, where quite a few artists and musicians were adherents to the turgid tome.

I was never able to get beyond a few chapters (or pages, don't recall which), and at the time just wrote it off as one of those books that were beyond ME - meaning I was the problem, not the book. I have since reversed that opinion, particularly after seeing the movie with my wife (her review: "I never want to see anything like that again. Ever.").

So, I read this article in Salon with relish. (My but some of the comments are nasty. You'd think this was a discussion on religion - which I guess for some it is.)

Here's my favorite quote:
Still, "Naked Lunch" serves a very valuable and reliable purpose. Get to it early enough, somewhere between the Hardy Boys and Holden Caulfield, and the fatigue and tedium will inoculate you against all sorts of intellectual malfeasance. You'll never swallow the line that obscenity is a hallmark of genius, or that the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom (usually it leads to the palace of excess, except when it leads to the hovel of incomprehensibility). Dismiss Burroughs as a pull-my-finger bore and you're ready to dismiss Matthew Barney, Damien Hirst, the Chapman Brothers, Jonathan Littell and a host of others too dull to mention.

Oh snap!


Whisky Prajer said...

It has a nearly inexplicable "cool" factor, doesn't it? I think without Burroughs' signature deadpan drone the book would be a complete bust (my fave Beck line: "The reader begins to feel like a baby sitter whose young charge is describing an R-rated movie he was accidentally allowed to see"). But Burroughs always had that three-piece suit draped over his always skeletal frame, the hat, a few dozen guns -- and that drone. He could say anything, and wannabes ate it up.

I know: I was one. It wasn't until U2 used him, then, a few weeks later, Nike that I began to wonder if we weren't all a little too easily impressed.

yahmdallah said...

Heh. Good observation.