Thursday, 10 December 2009


As we approach the end of the 50th anniversary of Naked Lunch it’s time to mention a couple of newish books.

Naked Lunch @ 50: Anniversary Essays has been collated by Oliver Harris and Ian MacFadyen who invited over twenty writers, scholars, musicians and artists for their take on the book and received a collection of essays exploring it from a range of angles and areas of personal interest. It’s testimony to the depth of the original book it can be viewed in so many ways and mean such different things to people.

I tend to avoid scholarly works as my dumbass brain can’t cope but this is palatable enough. The essays are roughly ten pages long so even the academic beard stroking ones causing RSI in reaching for the dictionary were worth persevering as they still unlocked details and insight repeated readings have missed or the relevance not appreciated.

For painstaking research, you’ve got to applaud Michael Stevens for his The Road To Interzone: Reading William S. Burroughs Reading. Stevens sets out to catalogue all the books Burroughs was known to have read, owned and contributed introductions, forewords and blurbs to. The entries are referenced and annotated and although not a book to read cover to cover it’s good to dip in and pull out a nugget, like this 1962 quote from Colin MacInnes, “If a writer like this is a novelist then clearly the word is practically meaningless”.

Naked Lunch @ 50 is edited by Oliver Harris and Ian MacFadyen and published by Southern Illinois University Press, priced $22.95.
The Road To Interzone by Michael Stevens is published by Suicide Press, priced $29.95.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting quote by MacInnes...obviously a traditionalist when it comes to the form a 'novel' can/must take. Like Art, I think it's open to whatever the creator wishes to do with it. As Larkin said, most have a beginning, a muddle and an end.