I'm working through naked lunch currently and it's an absolute trip. I really need to read up on the Borroughs history because I know he was a junkie himself.
Anyways I'm coming with a curious question to anybody who's read it: what the fuck does 'dunking pound cake' mean? Is it a term for shooting up?
If you're enjoying it, good for you, OP. But I would be interested in hearing what exactly about it is appealing to you. I just read it this past summer, and I have never been left more cold by a piece of Po-Mo. Its fragmentation just didn't seem to be in service of anything and even its lurid elements (which seem to be all the book has to offer) got redundant.
"Dunking pound cake" is done with your fingers: "dunking pound cake with his dirty fingers" and is apparently an act comparable to eating Chinese food: "the connection is eating Chop Suey on Dolores Street, Mexico, D.F., dunking pound cake in the Automat". You don't have to get past the first chapter to figure out that he's talking about literally dunking shitty baked goods into coffee or tea. In "and start west" he straight up defines any slang that your average reader wouldn't understand.
In some circles, "cake" can refer to heroin or other drugs, but "dunking" doesn't refer to shooting up as far as I know. Though if you'd like to take it as some depraved sex act or drug-culture euphemism, then you can go right ahead. That might even make it better.
This book is literally a bunch of obscene nonsense pieced together by a heroin addict. Even if the concept and narrative structure (or lack there of) are interesting, there is nothing to be gained from reading something so disgusting.
One of my favorite novels for sure.
Yeah, lots of it is hard to get through, but there are a number "routines" that are just so great, "The man who taught his asshole to talk", "Bradley the Buyer", "Hassan's Rumpus Room", the whole "Steely Dan" scene, all of the scenes with Dr. Benway.
Saying its just drugs and gay sex is incorrect. Its also about hopsitals and prisons.
if you want background on Burroughs, I watched a documentary called "William Burroughs- A Man Within" I torrented it recently, good stuff. Covers a wide variety of his interests, history, associations.
oh man, that's a really spot on bait if you intended "so nasty" to be a William Burroughs reference and to bring the conversation back around to "dunking poundcake"
'Later the boy is sitting in a Waldorf with two colleagues dunking pound cake. 'Most distasteful thing I ever stand still for,' he says. 'Some way he make himself all soft like a blob of jelly and surround me so nasty. Then he gets well all over like with green slime. So I guess he come to some kinda awful climax ... I come near wigging with that green stuff all over me, and he stink like a old rotten cantaloupe.''
I tried reading it, but it seemed absolutely demonic, and it seemed to only have dark and evil messages to tell.
Not to mention it's not written well, oh it's certainly different, and an interesting look into a demented mind, but it's not good.
It has the most slang, or at least it's on the high-end, but he slang is usually explained in parenthetical asides: "chase up Exchange Place by a baying pack of People. (Note: People is New Orleans slang for Narcotics Fuzz.) / The old Chinaman dips river water into a rusty tin can, washing down a yen pox hard and black as a cinder. (Note: Yen pox is the ash of smoked opium.)
Also, you were tripping. That's the point. Kerouac and Ginsberg edited the fragments of the original manuscript to reflect Burrough's detoxing journey from junky to sober, so as you go on, the writing becomes less horrifying and obscure and more clear and hopeful. The sexuality transforms from filthy to violent to downright pleasant; the frightening medical passages fade away. The least clear and most violent passages are in the middle, which is the hallucinations and panic starting to take effect.
I'm damn glad I finished it too. Convinced me to drop opiates.