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Running Wild

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  1,176 ratings  ·  104 reviews
The thirty-two adult members of an exclusive residential community in West London are brutally murdered, and their children are abducted, leaving no trace. Through the forensic diary of Dr. Richard Greville, Deputy Psychiatric Adviser to the London Metropolitan Police, the brutal details of the massacre that has baffled the entire police department unfold.
Hardcover, 112 pages
Published 1989 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1988)
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mark monday

Experienced nannies wanted for care of 13 children ages 8-17 in the safe, comfortable, and perfectly controlled upper class environment of the exclusive Pangbourne Village.

Position Description:

The nanny is a specialist working in the family's home, responsible for all tasks related to care of the children. The nanny will serve as a loving, nurturing, and trustworthy companion to the children. The nanny will carefully maintain at all times the liberal attitude enforced b
Bill  Kerwin

This mordant mystery novella by science fiction writer J.G. Ballard is only a “mystery” because the hideous crime at its core is the product of a socially unbearable evil. The thirty-two adults of the affluent enclave of Pangbourne Village have been brutally murdered, but their thirteen children—visible in the security footage up to the moment camera cords were cut—have disappeared from the scene. Could the children have been kidnapped? If so, why has there been no ransom demand? Or...could ther
Running Wild What an apt title. I was indeed running wild when I finished this book. At least my mind was. Maybe I was actually running too...I can't remember. This novel follows the investigation of psychiatric adviser Dr. Richard Greville as he looks into the cause of a grisly mass murder. The murder involved some thirty two people and the murder weapons spanned from guns to crossbows, hair dryers to pillows, and even bamboo mantraps. Now let your minds wander and imagine the crime scene. Yo ...more
"Σε μια απόλυτα λογική κοινωνία η τρέλα είναι η μόνη ελευθερία"

Εκατόν τριάντα σελίδες αρκούν γι' αυτή την ιατροδικαστικής ακρίβειας και λιτότητας ανατομία ενός φρικιαστικού και πολυεπίπεδου σε συμβολισμούς εγκλήματος. Υλικό για Κρόνενμπεργκ και Χάνεκε. Αριστούργημα.
This is an odd little book when compared to Ballard's other work. In this region of the country it is kind of a hard title to find, and both times that I have seen it in used stores it has been priced for collectors (for me that means over $12...yeah, i'm a cheapskate...). It is also very short, clocking in at just over a hundred pages.

For those who are unfamiliar with Ballard, he had a fascination with what he called invisible literature. This is best described as documents written for a specif
Read this today riding back from Chicago. There are nods to both the procedural form as well as a fairy tale. There is a massacare of all the adults at a gated community outside of Reading. All of the children are missing. A psychologist from the Home Office investigates the murder/kidnapping and explores the estate, itself a community of isolated sanity. The protagonist later concludes that within such, "madness is the only freedom." Ballard succeeds again in casting an eerie hue on the mechani ...more
I loved this book. So weird and disturbing.
Ballard is my favourite author but I prefer his short stories to his novels generally, but this is an exception to that rule.
Kids in gated community go crazy. Lord of the Flies meets the suburbs.

And...this just in...

CANNES -- Andras Hamori's H20 Motion Pictures has green-lighted two new productions: the thriller "Running Wild," based on the novel by J.G. Ballard and starring Samuel L. Jackson, and "The Gate -- 20 Years Later," a sequel to the 1987 hit teen horror title.

Jackson will act as a co-producer on "Running Wild," a detective story about the investigation of a mysterious massacre at a wealthy gated community. T
George Georgiadis
Μια μικρή βόμβα στα θεμέλια της μπουρζουαζίας. Μου θύμισε ταινίες του Χάνεκε. (Παρεμπιπτόντως, θα ήταν ΤΕΛΕΙΟ ο Χάνεκε να χρησιμοποιήσει το βιβλίο ως πρωτογενές υλικό για μια μελλοντική ταινία του.)
As with the other "Ballards" I've read: the only mystery is that of motive. I like his subversion of mystery tropes in the service of cautionary aims.
At the heart of this book is a compelling insight into the consequences of living a false life, eliminating any element of human experience that might be messy, unpredictable, inconvenient -- any element that doesn't conform to superficially defined "perfection." The crime that carries the plot is interesting, but the real horror in this novella is what happens to young, developing humans who are cut off from reality -- who live in a state of "sensory deprivation." Ballard describes these young ...more
I feel like Ballard does for psychology what classical science fiction writers do for concepts taken from the "hard" science. He takes a situation that highlights a certain psychogical effect (in the case of this book, the effect of so-called helicopter--or rigorously involved--parenting on the mental health of their children) and paints an extreme scenario where this condition drives the affected characters to excess. In Running Wild, he documents in clinical, clear-eyed detail the mental degra ...more
Jose Luis
Creo que si un autor novel le presentara una primera novela como esta a un editor saldrían por la ventana el autor y la novela, y probablemente el editor. La idea puede tener su aquel -o lo tendría si Ballard le hubiera dado un mínimo desarrollo-, pero la ejecución no puede ser más pobre. Empieza resultando previsible (casi ridículamente previsible), llega a ser inverosímil (también ridículamente inverosímil) y termina siendo absurda. Con un guiño simpático, vale, pero eso no la salva. Por momen ...more
This one felt like Ballard's heart wasn't in it. His fascination with upper class housing being a trap from which rich people can only escape through violence is an interesting one, but here the tone of the story changes too often and Ballard gives the details in such a flat way there's no way to invest in the story. I love the idea of children revolting at the idea of overly precious parents, but there's probably a better way to tell it than this. I'm still waiting for a book to match "High Ris ...more
Un tranquillo complesso residenziale abitato da famiglie della borghesia inglese che vivono nell'agiatezza e che hanno instaurato una sorta di regime atto a creare una società sana e pacifica. Una sorta di piccolo paradiso in terra dove la vita scorre tranquilla fra i mille impegni, tutti rigorosamente pianificati, tanto degli adulti che degli abitanti più giovani. In questa sorta di Piccola Società Perfetta, un giorno, come un fulmine a ciel sereno, piomba l'inaspettato e l'imponderabile. In un ...more
Germano Dalcielo
Racconto lungo del buon James, sempre sulle sue corde, quelle dell’alienazione sociale e del disadattamento esistenziale. Un maestro del genere distopico moderno, ma, nonostante io sia un suo grande fan, questo libro non lo annovero tra i suoi capolavori. Piuttosto tirato per i capelli il movente, nonostante, ripeto, siamo in una Inghilterra distopica, quasi surreale. Lettura godibile, a maggior ragione perché si legge in un paio d’ore.
3.5 stars? This one is rather difficult to rate. Considered as a novel, it is somewhat under-realized; considered as a novella or even short story, its impact is greatly enhanced. The premise is compelling and, as is typical of Ballard, prescient: who else was writing so incisively (in 1988!) about the "despotism of kindness," about helicopter-parenting, cultures of surveillance, and technologies of networked fantasy? Michael Haneke's "White Ribbon" implicitly locates the germ of Nazism within t ...more
Ballard says, "In a totally sane society, madness is the only freedom." So sums up the theme of this book. Overall, fascinating premise, with a somewhat cinematic quality to the imagery and narration, which I enjoy. Main complaint? It's too short! 104 pages is not enough for a story concept as interesting as this. I was left wanting more.
I have to admit that I don't remember reading this book back in 1990, and the reason might be what Mike's review says of Ballard's use of "invisible" literature. (Please read Mike _____'s review.) I do have "Running Wild" written down in a notebook as having been completed with total number of pages, etc., but no recollection. Shortly after this I started to read more of the classics, because if you don't remember having read a book, you won't completely waste your time and won't feel guilty in ...more
"In a totally sane society, madness is the only freedom." -- J.G. Ballard

Always a pleasure to read the master stylist, Ballard.
Bob Reutenauer
A friend just dropped a large collection of e-books into my kindle. JG Ballard, James Ellroy, Don Delillo. A trifecta! Ballard is sharp.. Running Wild is short , making it seems even sharper. Contemporary English village of uber wealthy professionals at tops of their fields becomes most ugly crime scene imaginable.. and imagine you must, because unlike Ellroy, Ballard writes all around the blood and mayhem without looking too squarely at it. The big question-- Here are all these dead wealthy adu ...more
Μια εντύπωση που με κατέλαβε λίγες στιγμές αφότου έκλεισα το βιβλίο είναι πως επρόκειτο για ένα μικρό ανάγνωσμα, μια καλή ιδέα, που χρόνια πια μετά την κυκλοφορία της δεν είναι δα και τόσο συνταρακτική - οι δυστοπίες, η αναταραχή εντός του σύγχρονου ανθρώπου, έχουν πολλάκις απασχολήσει τη λογοτεχνία. Κοντολογίς, συμπαθητικό. Ωστόσο, όταν καταλαγιάσει ο αναγνωστικός κουρνιαχτός μπαίνουν σε τάξη οι λέξεις, αυτό το λεκτικό στρίμωγμα ξεδιπλώνεται, αποκαλύπτοντας την αρχιτεκτονική της ιστορίας. Καλό ...more
"In a totally sane society, madness is the only freedom."
This wonderfully Ballardian aphorism best sums up the interior logic of Running Wild.

Pangbourne Estate, an 'ideal' society in which the professional and respectable classes converge to live in peace and prosperity, where crime and immorality seem alien concepts, fails spectacularly to maintain the facade of civility on which it is based when a series of expertly co-ordinated and seemingly inexplicable murders see off the majority of its in
The Pangbourne Massacre. An event in which 32 adult members of an exclusive residential community in West London are brutally murdered on June 25, 1988. To be honest, I had never heard of it before. I was curious why it could have slipped my attention so I quickly searched for that date in Dutch history and there you had it: it happened on the same day the Dutch soccer team won from Russia in the European Championship. That's a valid explanation. It probably got buried in our news.

This novella g
This is a re-read; I read it quite a few years ago. This is one of these books that doesn't stay on the shelf - you carry it round with you in your head, which is why I came back to read it again.
Whilst I disagree with the logic of some of the psychoanalysis, the actual root idea is horrible, and reads as pretty realistic in as much as events with similarity have actually come to pass, with frequency, since Ballard wrote it.
got this book with a bunch of other Ballard's, including High Rise and Concrete Island...scary and relevant, could be ripped from the headlines of today's newspaper. some of the images still linger in my mind, esp the hospital scene, scarier than any horror movie of late. one of the most haunting books I have read in awhile
Certainly an entertaining and thought-provoking little novella.

I give this 3 stars as I feel that it is overtly political and lacks subtlety with its meaning - great for those studying 80's literature but as a stand-alone text to read for pleasure I think perhaps it becomes a little restricted (and dated) nowadays.
Daniel Kukwa
Concise, clinical, disturbing & depressing. I'm certainly surprised that the BBC or ITV haven't taken this slice of 80s gothic horror and filmed a version for television -- it's documentary-style would make for the perfect slice of contemporary, prime time drama.
Michael Holland
Excellent novella clinically slicing the top off notions of gated security and suburban bliss to show the sinister forces beneath. Ballard's detached analytical style is perfect for this tale of parental and cultural oppression fostering a violent murderous rebellion.
Howard Kistler
A novella of the feral nature in humanity that struggles to come out in polite society. The more civilised the people, the more violent the animal when it surfaces. A common theme of Ballard's, one which reaches its pinnacle of analysis in Super-Cannes.
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James Graham "J. G." Ballard (15 November 1930 – 19 April 2009) was an English novelist, short story writer, and essayist. Ballard came to be associated with the New Wave of science fiction early in his career with apocalyptic (or post-apocalyptic) novels such as The Drowned World (1962), The Burning World (1964), and The Crystal World (1966). In the late 1960s and early 1970s Ballard focused on a ...more
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“In a totally sane society, madness is the only freedom.” 192 likes
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