Skip to main content

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.  

Popular posts from this blog

Best Reading from my Third Semester

Once again, this semester's schoolwork took precedence over this blog.  It had to happen, but now I'm back to let you all know about the wonderful books I read in my classes.
     On an unrelated note, feel free to add me on LinkedIn!  I made an account but I only have four connections so far, it's very sad.

Novels
1. Cane by Jean Toomer - A gorgeous genre-blending novel which describes the lives of black people in rural Georgia in the early twentieth century.

2. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston - The greatest self-love story of all time.

3. Passing by Nella Larson - A novel which examines the complex friendship between two wealthy black women, one of whom passes for white.

4. Smoke, Lilies and Jade, a Novel by Richard Bruce - A semi-autobiographical, experimental text peppered with ellipses and the names of great Harlem Renaissance artists.

Short Stories
1. "The Closing Door" by Angeline Grimke - This story demonstrates with intimate, hea…

Review: God Help the Child by Toni Morrison

I read this book courtesy of my friend Shanille, who purchased it for a class on the novels of Toni Morrison (!!!) and lent it to me when she was done.  Thank you girl!
     As usual, this book did not disappoint.  It is about a beautiful, successful, dark-skinned woman named Bride who sets out on a journey to confront an ex-lover, and by extension the many traumas she has experienced both as a child and an adult on account of other people's perceptions of her skin color.  
     My favorite aspect of the story is its characters, because they are drawn in such precise and lush detail.  Bride, for example, has constructed her outward appearance in order to thriveFor example, she goes by 'Bride' rather than her given name, Lula Ann Bridewell, and exclusively wears white clothing, in accordance with the advice of a lifestyle consultant.  At one point, she refers to herself as "The [woman] driving a Jaguar in an oyster-white cashmere dress and boots of brushed…

Review: Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

The stories in this heart-rending anthology open windows into the lives of women from various places and socioeconomic classes, of various races and sexual orientations, with various BMIs and occupations.  Despite their differences, these women share one trait - men tend to find them 'difficult.' They are difficult because they are any combination of frigid, argumentative, gay, promiscuous, angry, melanated, fat, and kinky.  None these traits are flaws, and should actually be celebrated or at least respected.  But instead, these women are regarded as difficult rather than complex.
    My favorite story was probably "La Negra Blanca," because it's the story that upset me the most.  It's about Sarah, a biracial, white-passing woman who strips to pay her tuition, and William Livingston III, the wealthy white dirtbag with jungle fever who lusts after her.  The specifics of Livingston's jungle fever are categorized with nauseating detail - his secret st…