Crash by J G Ballard

One of the weirdest books I have ever read. It is about the sexual fetishisation of car crashes. It is written in an overblown, hallucinatory style. The story is superficially realistic but is underpinned by a lot of fantastical description and detail.

The huge number of car crashes, for example. It is as if the main characters cannot even pop down to the shops without causing or seeing a car crash. But that sort of literalism is to quibble with what is really a meditation on the psychology of death, violence and, most of all, sex. There are lots of detailed descriptions of sex acts and the various fluids and physiognomies involved. It is really about perversion.

Sometimes it is funny, when it just goes over the top and it is impossible not to laugh. But overall it is a disturbing book, raising difficult questions about the way in which we imbue material objects with meaning and purpose drawn from our inner, human, sexual life. The book was written in the 1970s and today, it would probably be about mobile phones and other communication devices. Is it not amazing how much feeling and commitment we invest in these mobile communication tools? And is it not even more amazing that we don’t seem able to see through and reject the seductive marketing that goes with them?

Crash is about that and a lot more. Great book.


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