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Naked Lunch

From Academic Kids

Naked Lunch was the third novel by William S. Burroughs. A film called Naked Lunch, based on Burroughs' life and writings was directed by David Cronenberg; see Naked Lunch (movie).

The book is the most famous that Burroughs wrote. It consists of many loosely-related vignettes in which several characters (Dr. Benway and Carl, for instance) reappear. The primary character, one might say the main character, is agent Bill Lee (a pseudonym for Burroughs. Lee was his mother's maiden name). The book's structure anticipates the cut-up technique of the Nova trilogy. The stories draw from his experiences in Tangier and his life in America, Mexico and his tour through South America following the shooting of his common-law wife Joan Vollmer. Throughout this period he was addicted to several drugs (notably heroin and morphine). The novel's mix of taboo fantasies, peculiar creatures (like the predatory Mugwumps), and eccentric personalities all serve to unmask mechanisms and processes of control; to "reveal what is at the end of every fork." The title was suggested by Burroughs's friend Jack Kerouac. The novel is a particularly grand illustration of Burroughs's skill with dialogue.

The book was forbidden from being published in some parts of the world for approximately ten years, presumably due to the vividness of some of the material, though it found a quick release in France where Olympia Press published it soon after completion. The first American publisher to take a chance with the novel was Grove Press. The book was banned by Boston courts in 1962 due to obscenity, but that decision was reversed in a landmark 1966 opinion by the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. This was the last major literary censorship battle in the US.

Upon publication, Grove Press added to the book supplementary material regarding the censorship battle as well as an article written by Burroughs on the topic of drug addiction.

Burroughs wrote Naked Lunch in room #9 of the Hotel el Muniria in Tangier. Photos of Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and other beat generation poets hang on the walls of the adjoining bar, the Tangerinn.

In 2002, a "restored text" edition of Naked Lunch was published, with some new and previously suppressed material added.

Some early European editions of the book are entitled The Naked Lunch as was the British 1968 paperback edition by Corgi Books but the article was dropped for American editions.

Trivia

The music group Steely Dan takes its name from a dildo mentioned in Naked Lunch. The music group Clem Snide also takes its name from a character in Naked Lunch.

In 1994, the band Bomb The Bass released their album "Clear" which contains a track called "Bug Powder Dust". The lyrics of that song contain a lot of references to characters, places and actions that are part of the movie. It seems like the lyrics were written by the singer of this song, Justin Warfield, also behind the music project Tao Of The One Inch Punch

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