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My God, how do you summarize the 1959 novel ''Naked Lunch'', the seminal work of [[Creator/TheBeatGeneration beat generation]] author Creator/WilliamSBurroughs, in mere words?

A {{dystopia}}n sci-fi meets ''[[Literature/TheDivineComedy Dante's Inferno]]'', but experienced by a heroin addict in the [[TheFifties 1950s]]. A carnival of everything middle-class America apparently feared at the time: [[FetishFuel experimental sexuality]], [[DrugsAreBad drug abuse]], foreigners, [[WhiteDudeBlackDude interracial relations]], [[ScienceIsBad 'forbidden sciences']], [[UsefulNotes/TheComicsCode comic books]], [[PoliceAreUseless gang violence and mob rule]]. A TakeThat against traditional American values and [[{{Hypocrite}} perceived hypocrisies]] which reads like a collaboration between Creator/AllenGinsberg and Encyclopedia Dramatica.

Some editions of the book include an author's foreword, where Burroughs [[DontExplainTheJoke explains the title]]. The phrase "naked lunch" is meant to describe the [[CassandraTruth unvarnished truth about what people do to survive in society]]. The specific lunch that Burroughs wants to unclothe is the custom of [[ThouShaltNotKill capital punishment]]. He objects to the fact that many [[JudgeJuryAndExecutioner people who endorse capital punishment]] are still reluctant to pull the switch, throw the first stone, or otherwise take on the moral responsibility for what he considers murder. In a sense, "naked lunch" is the opposite of euphemism. Thus his famous quote, "Let them see what is at the end of that long newspaper spoon." Of course, Burroughs, by his own admission, [[ThisIsYourPremiseOnDrugs doesn't remember writing most of the actual text of the book]], so the author's foreword could very well be RetCon.

''Naked Lunch'' was [[Film/NakedLunch very loosely adapted into a film in 1991]] by Creator/DavidCronenberg.

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!!This book provides examples of:

* AccentRelapse: While probably theatrics on Benway's part, he'll sometimes speak in an effeminate, stereotypically gay voice, and at other times speak like an American Southerner. Also: "Benway's voice drifts into my consciousness from no particular place... a disembodied voice that is sometimes loud and clear, sometimes barely audible, like music down a windy street."
** Also Salvador Hassan O'Leary, who is said to lapse into broken English in times of stress. "His accent at such moments suggests an Italian origin."
* AllGaysArePromiscuous: In fairness, it's the '50s. Gay culture didn't have the stability to really support monogamy when this was written.
* AlternateUniverse: Interzone is a dystopian caricature of Tangier, Morocco.
* AnachronicOrder: The chapters are arranged in the order in which they came back from the printer; Burroughs and his friends decided that they couldn't really improve on it. Burroughs was famous for doing this 'cut-up' in his other poetry, as well. [[spoiler:Except for the section where Lee kills Hauser and O'Brien. It was originally supposed to happen near the beginning, but was moved to the end, creating another contradiction in space and time where Lee is presumably back in America, after having traveled through Mexico and South America into Africa.]]
* AndIMustScream: "Did I ever tell you about the man who taught his asshole how to talk?"
* ArcWords: Certain phrases and descriptions are repeated constantly throughout Burroughs's body of work. Most during his Nova Trilogy and Red Night Trilogy, but ''Naked Lunch'' has a few, as it is the culmination of all of his early work; 'blank insect eyes', 'like music down a windy street', 'shitting and pissing in terror', 'No glot. C'lom Fliday'.
* AxCrazy: A.J., who, after crashing Hassan's orgy dressed like a pirate, decapitates middle-aged women while singing 'Yo Ho Ho And A Bottle of Rum'.
* BannedInChina: In 1965, this was the last major work of literature to get unbanned in the American town of Boston (which [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banned_in_Boston banned quite a lot of things]].)
* BlackComedy
* BlackAndGreyMorality: Even the Factualists, the Interzone political party that Lee supports, are a bunch of psychos. It's just that they don't believe in what the ''other'' parties are doing -- like melting people (Liquefactionists), cloning themselves (Divisionists), or experimenting with MindControl (Senders).
** And even so, the other parties are not all as separate in practice as they are in the abstract.
* BuryYourGays: But only if they're CampGay.
* CementShoes: Alluded to several times in Burroughs's word mosaics.
* CloneDegeneration: The Divisionists' replicas need to recharge (through physical -- but not necessarily sexual -- contact) with their original body or 'mother cell', but are dyed and altered with body molds to disguise the fact that they're replicas.
* ContemplateOurNavels: Behind all the filth and horror, Burroughs is crying.
* ContinuityNod: The opening pages contain many very brief mentions of characters and events from Burroughs's first two novels, ''Junky'' and ''Queer'', such as Bill Gains in someone else's overcoat and Lupita, Lee's Mexico City pusher, seated like an Aztec Earth Goddess. Hell, even the description of the Mugwump eerily recalls a suspicious individual mentioned towards the end of ''Junky''.
* CrapsackWorld
* CrystalSpiresAndTogas: ''Naked Lunch'' begins Burroughs' proud tradition of juxtaposing the horrors of a paranoid futuristic delusions with Aztec and Mayan iconography. This is taken to new levels in his next book, ''The Soft Machine''.
* CultureClash: Interzone, although primarily Tangiers, seems to incorporate elements of the American Deep South (Cunt Lick County), the South American rainforests (The Upper Baboonsasshole), and socialist Europe (Annexia).
* DeathBySex: ''Orgasm Death'' is a reoccurring phrase in Burroughs's work, as is the image of a hanged man jizzing in his pants at the moment of death - which has been known to happen in real life, by the way.
* DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything: The reptiles giving oral to the Mugwumps for a drug that prolongs life.
* EroticAsphyxiation: He has a habit of writing scenes where teenage boys very sensually get their necks broken via noose.
* EroticDream: In fact, surreal pseudoporn makes up about a fourth of the book.
* EverybodyMustGetStoned: The Black Meat and Mugwump fluid, metaphors for the horror of addiction.
* FakeBrit: A.J., whose British accent 'waned with the British empire'.
* FantasticCasteSystem: The Parties of Interzone.
* FantasticRacism: Thanks to the Divisionists. "If some citizen ventures to express a liberal opinion, another citizen invariably snarls: 'What are you? Some stinking nigger's bleached-out replica?'"
* {{Fauxreigner}}: A few characters in the novel attempt to disguise their ethnic origin, although they often give away the fraud by adopting ludicrous multi-ethnic names. Salvador Hassan O'Leary is just the most obvious, but there's a throwaway reference to an Ali Wong Chapultepec.
* FirstPersonPeripheralNarrator: William Lee
* {{Foreshadowing}}: Hassan is referred to by several of his many aliases ('The Shoe Store Kid', 'Placenta Juan the Afterbirth Tycoon') before actually appearing.
* FurAndLoathing: 'Guard in a uniform of human skin...'
* GenreRoulette: An undercover look at drug culture, raunchy porn, biting social satire, science-fiction and some hard boiled noir thrown in for good measure.
* AGoodNameForARockBand: The band Music/SteelyDan got their name from a dildo in this book.
** The group Clem Snide took theirs from a recurring Burroughs character who appears for the first time in ''Naked Lunch''.
* {{Gorn}}: Lots of it.
* [[SociopathicHero Heroic Sociopath]]: A.J. again. He's not actually heroic at all, but he's slightly less evil than most of the other characters (with the exception of Lee himself).
* ImmodestOrgasm: Described as 'like a shooting star'.
* InexplicablyIdenticalIndividuals: An array of control-room menials pop up at different times and places, all of them referred to simply as The Technician -- and most of whom share the same characteristics of working behind the scenes and suffering from indigestion. Of course, this is the kind of book where they actually ''could'' all be the same guy...
* InterspeciesRomance: The Mugwump and a blonde boy.
* ItsNotPornItsArt: Slashtubitch's opinion on his 'blue movies' and, of course, the book itself as decided by the Supreme Court.
* JigsawPuzzlePlot: Whether or not there even ''is'' a plot is up for debate. Regardless, every scene reveals something more is going on then we're being told.
* KillItWithFire: Bradley the Buyer; suggested for The Complete All-American De-anxietized Man.
* LargeHam: '''THE GREAT SLASHTUBITCH!'''
* MadScientist: Dr. Benway, played hilariously straight.
** Nor is he the only one, judging by the references to Dr. Limpf, Dr. Tetrazzini (who saw surgery as an art form), and 'Fingers' Schaeffer, the Lobotomy Kid.
** And then there's Doctor Berger, of the ''Mental Health Hour'', who claims proudly to have cured the neuroses of all kinds of patients, from homosexuals to writers. "I got enough health for the whole fuckin world!"
* MagicGenetics: The Divisionists cut off chunks of their flesh and grow full replicas of themselves in petri dishes.
* MakingLoveInAllTheWrongPlaces: Usually on the gallows.
* MindScrew: ''Literally'' at one point ("This brain atrophy already").
* MultipleEndings: While not present in the book, a short in the Burroughs anthology, ''Interzone'' contains a story called ''The Conspiracy'' that acts as an alternate ending to the ''Hauser and O'Brien'' section. Instead of calling the police station from a desolate payphone, Lee hides at a female acquaintance's apartment for a few days and muses about his fate.
* NastyParty: Hassan's Orgy
* NoCelebritiesWereHarmed: Lee is an obvious standin for Burroughs himself.
* NoEnding: After a succession of rambling, the book seems to end with an unseen cataclysm.
* NotSoStoic: Doctor "Fingers" Schaeffer. ([[spoiler:"Clarence!! How can you do this to me?? Ingrates!! Every one of them ingrates!"]])
* ObstructiveBureaucrat: The County Clerk, and most of his employees in the Old District Court House.
* PeoplePuppets: Senders control people by telepathically transmitting their thoughts. This was the inspiration behind [[Film/{{Scanners}} another movie]] by Creator/DavidCronenberg.
* PerfectPacifistPeople: The Freeland Republic, which is "clean and dull my God." An earlier passage in the book implies that Freeland is inspired by Burroughs' experiences in Scandinavia.
* PoliceAreUseless: Hauser and O'Brien [[spoiler:chase Lee all the way to Interzone (or maybe just around New York, we're not sure) then get killed by pistol fire after Lee shoots up some dope.]]
* ProperlyParanoid: With all the weird shit running around, it makes perfect sense for Lee to flee the country as fast as he can.
* RefugeInAudacity: A terror attack at a political conference, wherein the terrorist detonates a grenade he shoved up his own ass.
* ScrewYourself: "Sex with a replica is strictly forbidden and almost universally practiced."
* TitleDrop: For the sub-section ''Ordinary Men and Women''.
* ToiletHumor
* TooKinkyToTorture: Most of the lynching and dismemberment is completely consensual because they're all actors in a very grandiose and pretentious porno movie.
* VillainProtagonist: A. J. is the intended hero of the book, a 'laughable lovable eccentric' whose track list of pranks include spiking the punch at a Fluoride Society meeting with a vine that melts the gums; spraying himself with bug spray, then releasing a swarm of potent, aphrodisiac insects into the New York Metropolitan, creating a massive orgy; and initiating a riot at a Five Star restaurant that ends with the owner being eaten by famished hogs.
* WalkingTheEarth: Essentially what Burroughs did in the fifties, migrating from Chicago to New York to Mexico to South America to Tangiers to London. ''Junky'', ''Queer'', and ''Naked Lunch'' are all based on these experiences.
* WhatDoYouMeanItWasntMadeOnDrugs: [[invoked]] Well, actually, it ''was''. Burroughs claimed, in the original foreword, that he wrote the first draft in a drug-cocktail haze and had no recollection of actually writing it -- although he later admitted that he was exaggerating.
* WordSaladTitle: Created accidentally by Burroughs' friends Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac; while the work was still in progress, Ginsberg was reading aloud from the book (a portion, ironically, that was cut in later drafts), and Kerouac misheard two words and blurted out something like: '"Naked ''lunch?''" What the hell does ''that'' mean?'
* WriterOnBoard: Burroughs isn't afraid to express his opinions on whatever he wants, usually in the form of condemning farce.
* ZeroGSpot

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