Friday, 19 February 2010

J G Ballard, Crash (1973)

I don't have a lot to say about this brilliant novel at the moment, beyond 'wasn't the cover of the first edition awful?' The gearstick looks much more like a microphone than a knob, and the title is clearly waiting for a Terry Gilliam giant foot to come hard down upon it and squash it flat. The title is not referring to that sort of 'crash', you know.

3 comments:

Yetikeeper said...

Hello.

This novel, despite its age, well ... it came out the same year I was born, has always confused me with its theme. As far as I can remember, and I choose not to google the subject, it is about mankind's over reliance of technology and how in turn society perverts its own sense of achievement. Any elucidation you may offer, regardless of length, would be appreciated. By the way, I loved your review of Yann Martel's, "Life of Pi" - it was a work of art. No more from lest I am judged a sycophantic crooner.

Mark Pontin said...

'...it is about mankind's over reliance of technology and how in turn society perverts its own sense of achievement.'

I dunno. I don't think that's exactly what it's about myself. I believe its 'theme' is probably as simple as Ballard said it was: people, needing to feel alive in a totally mediated and crushingly boring world, turn to sociopathic activities.

That said, what CRASH is really, truly about is that it is, as Ballard said later, a sociopathic hymn and, as such, it's the most fearsomely beautiful writing you can imagine.

Adam Roberts said...

Yetikeeper: thanks for the kind words. Coming from somebody who tends Yetis, they're particularly appreciated.

Like Mark, I wouldn't say Crash is about 'mankind's over reliance of technology and how in turn society perverts its own sense of achievement'. I'd say its peculiar starting place -- the crossover between erotic fetish and violent automobile crashes -- is deliberately taken orthogonally from what the reader might expect (I suppose the reader might expect a novel about sexual sado-masochism) into uncannier realms, where it is not just violence upon the body but the machine, and death, that constitute our erotic life. It's a brilliant, though not a very comfortable, book.