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High Rise – by JG Ballard

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“Twenty years ago no one could have imagined the effects the internet would have – entire relationships flourish, friendships prosper on the e-mail screen, there’s a vast new intimacy and accidental poetry (from the osprey-tracking site to tours round old nuclear silos and the extraordinary aerial trip down the California coastline and a thousand others), not to mention the weirdest porn. The entire human experience seems to unveil itself like the surface of a new planet.”

This is an excerpt from an interview with JG Ballard that appeared in the Guardian a few weeks ago. It is always rewarding to read someone who can so deftly and succinctly articulate modern-day truisms such as he does in this interview.

Ballard has shown an amazing prescience for predicting societal trends and even specific events in his writing over the years—this is something I gleaned mainly from this interview as admittedly I have only read one of his novels. My earliest attempts at his books left me cold…he has written a few experimental novels and those being my first choices I didn’t make it past the first few chapters.

One book by Ballard that I did finish was High Rise, a darkly humorous dystopian tale laden with indirect metaphors and analogies that apply to the larger world. A story of London high-rise dwellers whose microcosmic and myopic existence in the building they inhabit turns into a literal battle of classes as those at the bottom try to usurp the arrogant snobs who inhabit the upper floors. The passage where anarchy has taken hold and a tenant barbecues an Alsatian on a balcony is particularly memorable.

Originally appeared on Pistonhips

©Copyright Lenny Finkleman 2004.

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  • I haven’t read “High Rise” in a long time, but a couple of years ago, just before the release of the movie, “Crash”, I read the novel, and it has to be one of the filthiest books I’ve ever read.

    I would really like to see a remake of “Empire of the Sun” to show Jack as he was in the book.