Mission

Bibliophiliac is the space where one passionate, voracious reader reflects on books and the reading life. You will find reviews, analysis, links, and reflections on poetry and prose both in and out of the mainstream.
A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. Franz Kafka

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Literary Blog Hop January 20-23

The Literary Blog Hop January is hosted by The Blue Bookcase.  This biweekly hop is for book blogs focused on literary fiction--head over to The Blue Bookcase to read all about it and add your blog to the link.

This week's topic is a book you hated when forced to read in school or university.  One book immediately came to mind.  Sorry Adam, but I'm going to say it again:  I hated William Burroughs' novel Naked Lunch.  There was just entirely too much naked swinging from the ceiling, disgusting descriptions of bodily fluids, and glorification of narcotics for this reader.  I remember I told the professor that it was the first time I wanted to take a shower after reading a book.  In theory Burroughs is a writer of literary merit, and his experimental prose was worth studying.  I just hated it.  The class was a course in experimental literature, and it was one of my favorite classes in grad school.  I ended up loving some of the other books, like Nightwood by Djuna Barnes, and discovered works and writers I wouldn't have read otherwise.

24 comments:

petekarnas said...

I have a copy of Naked Lunch on my shelf right now. I'm always tempted to pick it up, but for some reason another book preempts it every time. Thanks for some idea about what to expect when I finally do get around to picking it up!

Rachel said...

I have not read Naked Lunch. It has been on the 'must read' list for quite a number of years as I enjoyed Junky. hhmm you actually make me want to read it lol

oreohmygosh said...

Djuna Barnes! I really want to read something by her. A few summers ago I was reading a book about Elsa von Fretag-Loringhoven, and the book had mentioned Djuna Barnes (along with the like of Manray). I've been interested in reading about all the people mentioned in that story, but I've just never gotten around to it.

dragonflyy419 said...

Experimental Literature sounds like a fascinating class ... I wish I would have had time to take more literary courses when I was in college ... oh well. I have Naked Lunch on my want to read list ... but I'll be prepared to want to take a shower after reading :)

Robyn said...

Oh, we both disliked books by Beat authors. My college roommate loved Naked Lunch. I think I tried it once, but once I found out about the whole trying to shoot an apple off his wife's head, I knew I was never going to read any more William Burroughs.

Grad said...

It's always fascinating to me how some readers can love a book/author and others loathe the same. I haven't read Naked Lunch, but it would never have appealed to me. I think I'm simply too 18th and 19th century for it.

Patricia said...

I just didn't get Naked Lunch, tried reading it, kept putting it down. Then I was lucky enough to hear Burroughs reading some of it aloud. I got it. I have gone back to the book again and again, each time I get more out of it.

nomadreader (Carrie) said...

Fun question this week! Oddly, as someone who loves to read, I didn't major in English because I like to pick my own books, so none stick out in my memory. There are a few from high school: The Scarlet Letter and Riddley Walker. I'm curious if I would like those now though.

Adam said...

Hahahaha! I love that you direct-linked to me on that apology. As you should! I posted somewhere recently on my Top 15 influential/favorite authors, and William S. Burroughs definitely made that list.

I understand, though, Naked Lunch is completely insane, and it's not for everyone, but it does have a very real point - I dissected it (amongst others) for my graduate thesis on Cold War-era American Lit, so we could talk for hours (if you're interested) about what Burroughs was really doing - but it's a gross, strange, difficult-to-follow book, and I won't deny that. :)

winstonsdad said...

I ll disagree with you on this I love Burroughs he was one my favourite reads in my early 20's ,I do think he is a male writer thou ,all the best stu

parrish lantern said...

loved Naked lunch, but then I like most experimental literature.

bibliophiliac said...

@petekarnas--who knows, you may love Naked Lunch, plenty of other people do.
@Rachel--I like your attitude. You definitely like to take up the gauntlet...
@oreohmygosh-you should read Nightwood. The characters are all based on real people from the Left Bank, and it is a difficult, beautiful book.

bibliophiliac said...

@dragonfly419--that's the attitude: break out the Irish Spring!
@Robyn--I think maybe the Beat writers are best appreciated when one is young--I'm way too old to feel that rebellion.
@Grad--Somehow I think a reader who loves 18th & 19th c. lit is not going to find Burroughs to be her cup of tea...

bibliophiliac said...

@Patricia--good for you for going back and trying the book repeatedly. Sometimes a reader has to do that, and it can be worth the effort.
@Carrie--I really love The Scarlet Letter, but it is a difficult book to teach in high school. You might like it more now.

bibliophiliac said...

@Adam--I love a good debate, so I say bring it on!

bibliophiliac said...

@stu-maybe you're right, it's a guy thing!
@parrish lantern--I'll be stopping by so see what you said for this question...

gautami tripathy said...

Some books are so difficult to get into. And those put us off that author too, for always.

And my teacher spoiled A Passage to India for me. But I did go back and loved it!

Here is my Literary Blog Hop: Disliked Book post!

Darlyn (Your Move, Dickens) said...

I first heard about Naked Lunch while reading Perks of Being a Wallflower, so it grabbed my attention. However, the term experimental literature immediately makes me suspicious, and you're the second blogger I've come across who completely hates the book.

emeire said...

It's still on my shelves, but I haven't had time to read it yet. Some day...
Em

Adam said...

@Darlyn - but how many bloggers (even in these comments alone) completely love it!? :D

Plus, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is my favorite book of all-time (and I have read and enjoyed Naked Lunch twice. So, maybe that's some encouragement?

bibliophiliac said...

@Adam--I have had Perks in my classroom library, and it is stolen over and over again. That's how I know a book is really good: if teenagers are driven to steal it. I would be willing to give Burroughs another chance, but not right away. I keep meaning to read The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but I guess I will have to hide it from my students if I ever want to get to read it myself.

Elizabeth said...

My read was STONEHENGE DECODED...uggh. Did anyone else have to suffer through it?

Stop by my blog if you like to see my full answer...I also have a giveaway that isn't very literary, but check it out.

http://silversolara.blogspot.com

Amy said...

Heh. I once had a few dates with a guy who was obsessed with William Burroughs. That should have been my first clue.
www.newcenturyreading.com

Aisle B said...

Burroughs is a special type of read just get ready for the strangeness to explode. You have to decode his words and then some.

I think mine was Life of Pi... sorry I just could not get into it. It just fell flat for me, perhaps my expectations were too high but I just could not get into it.