Books Magazine

With Naked Lunch, I Might Have Finally Met My Match

By Robert Bruce @robertbruce76

It’s happened to all of us.

A novel makes a “best of” list, maybe like Time Magazine’s—the critics love it—some of our friends say it’s great and some online reviews say it’s a good read.

Then we start reading the novel, and we’re like, Um, I don’t get it. But there’s something in the back of our mind saying, I’m supposed to like this novel! What am I missing?

I’m there right now. In reading Naked Lunch, I might have met my match, and I’m not sure what to do.

I’ve made it through all 3,000+ boring pages of A Dance to the Music of Time. I’ve made it through Lolita, Money, and Portnoy’s Complaint, with all their graphic vileness. I’ve made it through Faulkner’s stream of consciousness and Woolf’s unrelenting long-windedness.

But I’m not sure that I can make it through Naked Lunch, guys. I haven’t quit a novel since I’ve started this project, out of mere principle. If I do quit this one, I’m not sure what that means for the project. I’ve been determined to read the entirety of every novel, no matter how much I disliked it.

However, Naked Lunch is different. Maybe it’s just me, but a 5-page DETAILED scene involving pedophiliac rape is, well, just too much, way too much.

This is supposed to be “art.” But if this is art, then I can take a poop in the driveway and put a stick on top of it and call that “art” too.

But back to the original thought: Have you ever felt like you were “supposed” to like a novel, but you just didn’t get it?


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