I have been a devout JG Ballard fan for many years. I first discovered him at university way back in 1994 and have since read a lot of his work. He died last year.
Crash is like nothing else I’ve read. Yes, it scandalises polite society with its taboo subject matter – sexual gratification derived from violent car crashes – but it’s a masterpiece. His use of language – the way he blends technology with sex and violence is devastating. And I totally see him as a pioneer, on the frontier. We are anaesthetised by the humdrum lives we lead. Deep down most of us do seek to push the boundaries. To be reckless and unconstrained. Or is that just me? I’ve always felt – strongly – that Ballard associates the middle/middle classes with repression (that he himself feels) and I identify with that.
A lot of people don’t get or won’t get Crash. Reading some of the reviews on amazon.co.uk, you come up against people giving it 1* claiming it’s pretentious and that people who rave about it (like me) are pretentious literary types. I refute that wholeheartedly. I find Salmon Rushdie’s stuff pretentious and I would much rather read something by Dan Brown than him. But coming back to Ballard – the people who criticise Crash as prurient and overly clever are the blinkered, repressed types that Ballard’s protagonists are ultimately railing against. How interesting; art imitating life. That doesn’t mean I don’t respect people that don’t enjoy or rate it. It just means I don’t respect people who deride the people that rave about it.
Ballard’s themes and motifs constantly recur in his work, something I really like. After you’ve read more than one, you’ll recognise them instantly. The dictionary even has a phrase for ‘Ballardian’:
BALLARDIAN: (adj) 1. of James Graham Ballard (J.G. Ballard; born 1930), the British novelist, or his works. (2) resembling or suggestive of the conditions described in Ballard’s novels & stories, esp. dystopian modernity, bleak man-made landscapes & the psychological effects of technological, social or environmental developments. Source: Collins English Dictionary
Anyway, don’t be put off by the subject matter. Instead, be attracted to his original writing. It will make you think. Read more about Crash on the ballardian.com website.