I stood leaning up against the cat tower, and through the smoke of the joint I held close to my lips I saw my terrible memories of reading Naked Lunch.
Naked Lunch is a book you cannot unread, no matter how hard you try. I saw it marked as unread in my book inventory earlier today, though I know I abandoned it over halfway through.
I used an experimental speed-reading setting in my e-reader to read part of Naked Lunch, which is part of the reason it is burned so clearly in my brain. The app would display one word on the screen for a fraction of a second, followed unrelentingly by the next, transforming the text of Burroughs’ absolutely perverse classic into a conveyor belt of stomach-turning rape culture.
Men’s sexuality was “liberated” first, and the shocking classics of the mid-20th century bare the unsurprising pollution. Gone now from my library the paperback of Portnoy’s Complaint, a disease which, if you’ll pardon the wordplay, could be best described as ‘the existence of women.’
Gone too Rabbit, Run, a book which, for all I know, is about wanting to beat your little gay kid to death because that is all the farther I could get. Raised, my suspicions of all the cool people who had ever talked up this book to me.
On its way out, my copy of She Came to Stay, unfinished because I became too sad about what Simone de Beauvoir and I have put up with for even mildly interesting men. If non-attachment is the perfect ideal, I’d rather talk to birds.
Long overdue on its way out – my copy of Mockingbird, Wish Me Luck. Long clutched as a reminder of my literary childhood, I part with it after a recent attempted reading showed it to be exactly the moody, toxic, drunken bullshit I remember.
Freeing white men from the specter of God was an important step in literature we’re fortunately long past. My shelves and my memory have other things to do, and culture will inevitably go on remembering these things for me.