3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
In Defense of James Ballard,
This review is from: Crash: A Novel (Paperback)First of all to the half-wits who keep comparing this to Chuck Palahniuk novels- if you had any sense of time-space you would realize that this book was written a full 20 years before CP ever put pen to paper and a full 30 years before you discovered CP last week.
That being said, I think this is an amazing work of British literature. The repetition, the mechanical quality of the sex, the emotional flattening and detatchment, all of this drives the narrative forward and makes the total environment more mechanized which, genius, is the point. This is a heavily stylized work of fiction and any of the alleged "shortcomings" of the novel are not mistakes or flaws in Ballard's design, but rather a comprehensive theme of mechanization, depersonalization and the destruction of even transgressive sexual acts as passionate, warm, and human.
This is not a book about the process of depersonalization. It is a book about people who have already been depersonalized and only relate to other human beings as they would machines. Even that most vibrant of life forces- semen- from arguably the most human charachter in the book- Vaughn- takes on the smell of engine coolant. If the book has any shortcoming at all, it is the tendency of Ballard to hit the reader over the head repeatedly with his metaphor as if he were trying to kill the proverbial fly with the proverbial sledgehammer. However, I think that among those who "get it" his point is well received and the repetition of these themes is certainly not accidental or a ploy to expand the length of the book (which clocks in at a paltry 250 some odd pages in my edition). The story arc moves slowly, like the cars engaged in gridlock on the M-5 during rush hour.
Disturing? Yes. I found that there was one paragraph in particular (essentially a list of genital injuries which are commonly sustained in car crashes) took two weeks to read because it was just so hard to get through.
But hey, if you don't like disturbing literature there's plenty of Oprah's Book Club and Reading With Ripa selections for you to check out...