Saturday, 3 October 2009
"An extreme metaphor for an extreme situation" Ballard writes in the foreword of the edition I read - too true. A brilliantly written but disturbing and towards the end pretty gruesome tour around a male psyche and sexuality.
In some ways it is more poetic than prose with a lot of repetition of phrases and words: pubis, mucus, semen get a lot of coverage! There is a lot of repetition in JGB's work. And it has a very dream-like feel to it.
Knowing about the time of JGB's life he was also working through issues in his own head - losing his wife in a freak accident, bringing up 3 young kids himself. The main protagonist/narrator is actually called James Ballard.
But it is more than that - it actually takes quite a radical approach to the novel. It reminded me a little of Becket's novels digging deeper and deeper into what it means to be human - the juxtaposition of sex and death.
The "villain" Vaughan is a precursor to the charismatic dodgy guys that populate his later novels. I got a sense of him being the other part of the character of Ballard - a la Fight Club.
The explicit nature of the sex is paralleled with the detail of the crashes - in a sense they are interchangeable.
So a difficult read but worthwhile and another indication of the great loss suffered with the death of JGB this year.