Saturday, 31 August 2013

The Atrocity Exhibition, by J.G. Ballard

1 star

By and large, I think J.G. Ballard is awesome, with everything of his I'd read to date being a real treat. Sadly, such things can never last...

Flying at least 100 feet above my head at all times, this book mostly made me feel like a complete dumbass. I understood the meaning of individual words, sentences, and even the occasional paragraph, but as a whole? I know it's got something to do with sex and car crashes, but after that...

...I'm out. Actually, that's not quite true. There's also something to do with space and time, the Kennedy assassination and the cult of celebrity, but quite what that is, erm...

I've since discovered, thanks to the intervention of a sympathetic friend (and the author's note, at the very end of the book - which was helpful) that this wasn't intended to be read in a linear fashion but dipped into randomly, as well as having accompanying art work. Clearly, buying this for my Kindle was something of a mistake and the fact that I did read it linearly, with no accompanying imagery (which may have shed some light on certain passages) meant it was a very fractured reading experience, with the occasional flashes of brilliance only making the rest seem even more foggily hallucinatory.

If it hadn't been for the notes at the end of each chapter I'd have been lost entirely, and I clung to these like a life-boat.

I can't believe I'm giving a Ballard book such a shitty rating and it's tempting to pretend that I'm smarter than I am, but while the notes were a constant source of interesting thoughts and observances, and while the seeds of some of Ballard's later work were clearly planted here, I can't honestly say I understood, or enjoyed it.

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