Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Junkie Metaphors and Books About Our Inner Crazy

    So, recently I was doing a spot of (mandatory) community service for my gym teacher when I experienced a rare instance of karmic payoff.
     Me and a bunch of other temporary bond-slaves were unloading this huge file cabinet onto the gym floor, sorting everything from Dance Revolution DVDs to pamphlets on Your First Visit to the Ob-Gyn! into neat piles, when I uncovered quite by chance a crumbling copy of Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs.  Elated, I carried it around for the remainder of the period until my teacher took pity on me and offered to let me borrow it.
It's falling apart before my very eyes I swear...
     I fell in love with this book the moment I heard its title quite a while ago - Naked Lunch?  What the hell kind of weird awesome twisted name is that?  I am only now realizing how twisted it really is.  The book is a compilation of notes that Burroughs took while under the sick influence of heroin.  It is rife with disgusting sex scenes and metaphors for the consumption of drugs in which characters enthusiastically eat their own poop.  Nice.  But addiction is a disgusting topic, and I'm impressed that Burroughs had the guts to describe his experience of hell so honestly.  It's written in an awesome psychedelic death-pit style that is unlike anything I've ever read before, and I LOVE it!  But it's gotten me thinking about the other great authors out there that dare to squish about in the dirty freaky depths of human insanity, and how much their books deserve to be recognized.  Here are a just a few (writers are a nutty sadistic bunch anyway)...
My books + my toes
1. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes- It's not a book about insanity, exactly.  It's about a developmental disability called Down Syndrome and what would happen if there was a cure for it.  But it's one of the most interesting an desperately sad books I've ever read, so I really HAD to tell y'all about it, you know? 

2. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey- A classic book about insanity, with a very unorthodox take on the matter.  The inmates of the asylum that is this book's setting live in oppression and self-loathing under the tyrannical reign of Nurse Ratched until a criminal pretending to be mentally unstable in order to evade prison gets sent to the ward and teaches the other lunatics to rebel against her authority.  Kesey seems to question whether so-called "mental disorders" are really just labels used to control eccentrics who refuse to conform.  I read somewhere that he actually worked at a mental hospital himself for a while, which does to my mind give him some authority on the subject.  However, I don't really need to add 'murder by roaming sociopath or schizophrenic' to my list of worries...

3. Going Bovine by Libba Bray- The whole riotous, fast-paced, hysterical, and probing story was actually a mad cow disease-induced hallucination!  Or was it?

4. The Stand by Stephen King- After humanity is besieged and mostly eliminated by an incurable new disease, so many survivors lose their minds that it would be monotonous to list them all. In addition, this new world is split into two sides, one brought together by the hand of God and the other by the influence of the Devil. This encampment of evil is populated entirely by the brutally insane - prominent figures include the Kid, a tiny doll-like man with a penchant for psychological and sexual torture, and the Trash-Can Man, a childish pyromaniac who can detect explosive and nuclear weapons with the ease of a tracking dog (a talent that ultimately and gruesomely destroys him).  Never have I envied a person's power to repulse more than I envy King's.

5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky- Everybody loves it!  Everybody's read it!  (Or else you should be reading it!)  But it's not until the very end of this book that the reader realizes that Charlie's social awkwardness goes much much deeper than anyone ever guessed.  


  1. These sound just like the books for me!!! :D I love sick and twisted literature, I'm so tired of all the Twilight and post Twilight romantic nonsense! I'd only include one more author in this category: Chuck Palahniuk. Most of his books, are written about people with a quite messed up head and I always thought that this was the beauty of them, even though many people don't like them :)
    Btw, I though "Being a Wallflower" was a romantic cheesy novel too? To be honest, I just saw the trailer of the movie :D

    1. Ooh I'll have to check Palahniuk out, maybe I'll make an edition to the list :P
      And don't be too quick to judge "Wallflower"! The book is pretty dark, it's basically a memoir and the author had some pretty scary issues as well as some pretty interesting thoughts when he was in high school. I won't give anything away though... ;)

  2. Some interesting stuff in here - I want to read The Naked Lunch though it doesn't sound like the kind of book I should read while I EAT lunch like I usually do ha! I really didn't like The Perks of Being A Wallflower though, I waited the entire book patiently expecting some kind of lightbulb moment or feeling of elation or attachment to the characters and it just didn't happen. The whole book was really depressing (and I'm not a stranger to depressing books/music but this just wasn't the right kind of melancholy I guess) I don't think that it helped that I just plain didn't like Charlie as a protagonist. Even at the end, post-twist, I didn't feel any more like for Charlie or clarification, a shame really because I had such high hopes for this book which is why I stuck with it for so long xx


  3. Kurt Vonnegut's son, Mark Vonnegut write a book about psychosis called THE EDEN EXPRESS. It's really great. You might like it.

  4. Whoa, that sounds interesting. I'll have to check that out.
    Imagine being Kurt Vonnegut's son!


Thank you for talking to me!! I wish you lots of good books and brownies!