Editorial Reviews: Review:
"At the International Writers' Conference in Edinburgh...I said that in thinking over the novels of the last few years, I was struck by the fact that the only ones that had not simply given me pleasure but interested me had been those of Burroughs and Nabokov....I am quoted as saying that NAKED LUNCH is the most important novel of the age, of the epoch, of the century....The result, of course, is a disparagement of Burroughs, because if NAKED LUNCH is proclaimed as the masterpiece of the century, then it is easily found wanting....The phenomenon of repetition, gives rise to boredom; many readers complain that they cannot get through NAKED LUNCH. And/or that they find it disgusting. It IS disgusting and sometimes tiresome, often in the same places....Like Swift, Burroughs has irritable nerves and something of the crafty temperament of the inventor....Yet what saves NAKED LUNCH is not a literary ancestor but humour. Burroughs' humour is peculiarly American, at once broad and sly."
Mary McCarthy, Encounter, April 1963
"Here is an American novelist writing in an existentialist idiom that proclaims the essential absurdity of life and reduces to to a flash series of cruel and often pointless charades. Time and place and plot and characters are all missing; yet none of this matters, by all the standards invoked. What matters, as in all abstract art, are the effects created, and Burroughs' effects are stunning. He is a writer of rare power....This paean to nihilism strikes me as more than the caterwaulings of a long-time addict, writing about addicts, for addicts and the beatnik fringe, which has embraced Burroughs as a genius."
Richard Kluger, New York Herald Tribune Book Review, 11/25/1962