J.G. Ballard, the English author famous for his science fiction, and maybe more famous, or rather infamous, for works like The Atrocity Exhibition (read the most infamous excerpt here) and Crash, has died. Of course Ballard also wrote more prosaic works, like Empire of the Sun, a novel based on the author's experiences as a young boy during World War II, which was later made into a movie by Steven Spielberg (and starring a young Christian Bale, something I didn't realize until I started researching this post).
A lot of Ballard's later work, like Cocaine Nights and Super Cannes ,are definitely works of crime fiction, obsessed with the dirt that lurks beneath the sleek, clean surface of modern society. I'll be the first to say that I didn't always enjoy Ballard's work. I've put down a couple of his books out of boredom and frustration, but I'll also be the first to say he was an important author who wasn't afraid to wrestle with ugly ideas and come up with some ugly results. I think that's why his work can be so hard to take at times. He spends a lot of time dwelling on various sorts of alienation, and he paints the picture so effectively that the reader inevitably ends up alienated.
Bonus Content: The Normal performing Warm Leatherette, an oft covered song inspired by Crash. The video is from David Cronenberg's movie adaptation of the novel.
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