Monday, September 13, 2010

The Unlimited Dream Company by J.G. Ballard

One day I was wandering around The Strand, and saw some of J.G. Ballard's books out on display on a table. I was drawn to the street art style of the stencils, and the rainbow colored gradient of squares. I'd been curious about reading Ballard's novels anyway--weird, dark surreal science fiction. All that and the $6 price were enough to convince me to buy the book.

Then I read it. And while it's kind of hard for me to admit this, I think it might be a little too weird for my tastes. A man steals a plane and crashes it in the Thames river, is underwater for ten minutes, then emerges apparently unscathed. He is now seemingly trapped in the small London suburb of Shepperton, which is rapidly transforming into a jungle, with palm trees sprouting, marmosets showing up, etc. Whether the man has died and risen as a kind of messiah, or is about to die and has some kind of pre-death vision that seems to last weeks but is only a few seconds, is deliberately ambiguous.

Really, the book is kind of boring. It starts out with an interesting enough premise, but peters out pretty quickly. Plants grow out of nowhere, strange animals show up, and there's a little too much semen being shot all over the place (no kidding) by the narrator, who is naked even though nobody else knows it. This is essentially the plot for the rest of the book.

1 comment:

  1. I read this the other day--on my boyfriend's recommendation because he absolutely loved the richness of the language--and I did not get it AT ALL. I wish I had. I sure saw the beauty and the depth to his choice of words but oh, the plot bored, terrified and, well, angered me. Such a good premise--such good potential--but oh-so-sadly I felt Ballard pushed past his mark too far. It was pretentious.