This semi-autobiographical novel is divided into chapters which, according to Burroughs himself, are only loosely related and therefore can be read in any order. Burroughs is the epitome of the Beat Generation, so you will encounter a lot of drug use (heroin, morphine, other opiates), sexual excess, and so-called obscene language within the book's pages. The book was banned in Boston in 1962 after some people complained that it violated obscenity statutes. It has been somewhat vindicated, though, as Time magazine rated it one of the "100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005".
Interesting facts about William Burroughs:
1. He was openly gay, but had a common-law wife named Joan Vollmer, whom he accidentally shot to death during a drunken game of William Tell in 1951. He was deeply affected by her death, and cited it as the reason he became a writer.
2. He was good friends with Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg.
3. He used his $3,000 advance from Naked Lunch to buy drugs.
4. He dabbled in Scientology and chaos magic, among other religions.
These facts only scratch the surface of the man, the character, the caricature who was William Burroughs.
Burroughs is most popular, at least in our experience, with young men. It's easy to jump to conclusions about this marked preference, but more likely than not, they just want a vicarious taste of the fast-paced, mixed-up life that Burroughs led. Burroughs is also popular with folks who like Kurt Vonnegut, Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson, so if your young man (or woman) likes these authors, there's a good chance he (she) will enjoy Naked Lunch. Don't be scared off by this book's popularity with the 18-25 crowd, either, because it also has an audience with the baby-boomer generation. All your gift recipient really needs is an open mind and an appreciation for good literature.