Thursday, June 25, 2009

Naked Lunch, Disturbing Literature

Naked Lunch, William Burrough's revered drug-fueled tale of anal sex, turns 50 this year, having now addled the brains of more than one generation. I attempted to read this during my twenties, and the copy still sits on my shelf, only the first twenty or so pages with any discernible evidence of having been read. Couldn't make it through the book; it made me feel like all the Sam Shepard and Samuel Beckett I read during my theatre years did — that there was some huge joke on me, or on everybody, but I was the only one to recognize that the jumble of overwrought symbolism really meant far less than the literati would have you believe. The absurdist era never really appealed to me, no matter how much I tried, I just couldn't enjoy any of it, and it seems that none was ment to be enjoyed, but to pondered.

Burrough's masterpiece fills the #8 spot in PopCrunch's list of The 10 Most Disturbing Books Of All Time. Before I even opened the link I knew Naked Lunch had to be somewhere on the list, but I was curious about the rest. My greatest surprise was the number of disturbing books that had been made into movies: Blindness, Requiem for a Dream, American Psycho. What didn't surprise me much is that I hadn't read any of the books. I guess I'm too much of an optimist, that overly depressing and violent books really don't appeal to me. Maybe I'm missing out — many of these books also show up on others' lists of great works of modern literature, so it might be time to try one out. Naked Lunch is still off my list; I don't care if it has lasted through 50 years of literary acclaim, I'm not sure I could get any further than I had already read.

Via, Via.

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