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High-Rise
 
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J.G. Ballard
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High-Rise

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  5,566 ratings  ·  452 reviews
When a class war erupts inside a luxurious apartment block, modern elevators become violent battlegrounds and cocktail parties degenerate into marauding attacks on “enemy” floors. In this visionary tale, human society slips into violent reverse as once-peaceful residents, driven by primal urges, re-create a world ruled by the laws of the jungle.
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Published March 5th 2012 by Liveright (first published 1975)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jeffrey Keeten
"A low crime-rate doctor," she told him amiably, "is a sure sign of social deprivation."

Anthony Royal built the Titanic of skyscrapers.

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A state of the art, megalithic structure suitable for 2,000 tenants. It is a self-contained environment with everything a tenant would need such as shopping or exercise or even schools for their kids. The people the building attracts are white collar, well educated, professionals. The apartments sell out quickly and as everyone start to settle into their new li
...more
mark monday
WELCOME TO BALLARD APARTMENTS

Luxury Living - To Die For!

Our extra-ordinary apartment complex is a full-service microcosm and so offers all the comforting amenities and thrilling excitements of the modern world - in one lavish locale. Imagine never having to step foot outside again! Whether your interests include swimming, shopping, the education of youngsters, simply lounging about without a care... or even more outré amusements such as rape, murder, incest, cannibalism, and the creating of
...more
Trudi
Later, as he sat on his balcony eating the dog, Dr Robert Laing reflected on the unusual events that had taken place within this huge apartment building during the previous three months.
This is one instance where I'm painfully aware of the inadequacy of a star-rating system for books. To give Ballard's High-Rise three stars does very little to capture its strengths, but more importantly, its ultimate failure as a novel. I'm going to try and do that in my review here, but just in case my ramblin
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Greg
I haven't read much Ballard so I don't feel like I've read this book by him before. Apparently, this is a kind of common theme with him. Affluent people turning savage in the modern world.

Any book that promises rich people acting all Lord of the Flies on one another is going to catch my interest. And this one caught my attention and was pretty successful at holding it.

The book takes place in a 1960's/70's version of a state of the art high rise apartment complex. It's an almost totally self-co
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Ruby  Tombstone [With A Vengeance]
Alternative title: "THIS is why we can't have nice things"
*******************************************************

Okay, having collected my thoughts, here are the points I think worth mentioning.

*I loved the book. Just fucking LOVED the book. As in, "I will read everything this author ever wrote" loved the book. My first impression was that this is Lord of the Flies for adults. I enjoyed this a lot more than I did Golding's book.

From here on out, the whole thing is pretty much one big spoiler. S
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Steve
J.G. Ballard’s dystopian novel, High Rise, opens with one of the more memorable first sentences I’ve encountered in contemporary fiction:

“Later, as he sat on the balcony eating the dog, Dr. Robert Laing reflected on the unusual events that had taken place within this huge apartment building during the previous months.”

The novel essentially starts at its ending. But Laing does have a story to tell. What starts out as some minor vandalism between the floor inhabitants, escalates into violence, mur
...more
Robert
A forty storey high-rise apartment building stands surrounded only by it's tenants' parking spaces and then, other soon to be completed forty storey high-rise apartment buildings.

All is well, initially, as the building fills up with tenants who only need to leave to go to work - the building itself has gyms, swimming pools, supermarkets, hairdressers, restaurants and other shops and services. Soon after the last apartment is occupied, however, things take a strange turn. Services such as elevato
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knig
It sometimes happens, that my suspension fails and so my disbelief prevails, unchecked. I realise that it then becomes MY failure, rather than the authors, to attribute a signifier of connoissaince. Thus it happened here: I tried and tried, but ‘I’ve giv’n it all shes got Captain, an’ I canna give her no more’.

Two thousand residents in an expensive high rise in London ‘short circuit’ and turn feral. As to what shenanigans they get up to: nobody explains it better than Mark in his wonderful revie
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Drew
Yes, yes, it's just Lord of the Flies in an apartment building. But the apartment building aspect is an important aspect, more than enough to distinguish these two works from each other. Let me see if I can explain why.

I wish I'd read this before moving into the house that I first moved into when I arrived in Boulder, because of how eerily accurate some of the events of the first half of the book are. The house I moved into was a big old ramshackle ranch-style house, with three bedrooms on the g
...more
Jeff Jackson
-Read this with a few friends. Interestingly, a fellow writer thought it was unspeakably awful, complaining about the "poor characterization," "unliterary language," and "unrealistic plot." Which reminds me of... Tom McCarthy on JG Ballard: "I think the guy was a genius. He was the only contemporary British writer that interested me or had any kind of influence on my work. The thing about Ballard is that he’s a great writer without being a good writer. I mean he’s not Nabokov or Updike. He doesn ...more
F.R.
This is an excellent, disturbing and visionary novel which shows Ballard on absolute top form. The residents of a tower block – the ‘High Rise’ of the title’ – find that within the building’s confines, society begins to crumble and their notion of humanity becomes more and more feral. At the beginning this takes the form of petty disputes, but soon the residents of each floor form themselves into packs and battle for control of the lifts and stairwells, and even launch raids onto other levels. A ...more
MJ Nicholls
These Flamingo Modern Classic reprints of Ballard books are an annoyance: they are stuffed with extraneous extra material of a facile internetty nature. Read this next! If you liked this, read this next! This book is also a film! Wow! Isn't that great! Buy the film now! Read this boring interview!

Of all the new modern classic editions I've read, Ballard's book get the biggest advertising shunt. Probably because Ballard was never anti-capitalist as such: he seemed to delight in the digitisation o
...more
Ollie
Dec 11, 2007 Ollie rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sci-fi lovers and high-rise inhabitants
J. G. Ballard is a bit of a one-trick pony. Every novel I've read of his (and I've read quite a few) features the same type of characters going through the same type of breakdown, usually engineered by a powerful psychotic antagonist or a dystopic setting, with always a pessimistic end result. The Drowned World explored this in a planet where the polar caps melted; The Drought went the opposite way, thrusting the characters into a mad world with no water; Super-Cannes showed what happened when b ...more
Emma Sea
Visionary. And all metaphoric-y. Amazing imagary that will stay with me always.
Charles Dee Mitchell
Imagine the bloated bestseller that could be made from the material in this book. We would be introduced to characters as they moved into their apartments, background sketches of each provided, then the first hints that something was beginning to go wrong would appear, graphic sexual and violent acts would be described in detail, and 458 pages with wide margins later, things would come to an end.

This is how Ballard opens his novel:

Later, as he sat on the balcony eating the dog, Robert Laing refl
...more
Emily Harris
Good concept: to explore social disintegration as facilitated by - and contained within - a high rise building. The internal collapse of its occupants' morality, and grip on reality, is skilfully mapped within the structure.

But I had issues with the book: firstly, I was increasingly uncomfortable with the women in this text (vulnerable wives open to sexual assault, passive victims, evil witch-like figures, Freudian-destructive mothers - not a single woman written on an even level with the men),
...more
Blair
Later, as he sat on his balcony eating the dog, Dr Robert Laing reflected on the unusual events that had taken place within this huge apartment building during the previous three months. How's that for a great opening sentence?

I picked High-Rise at random from a load of books I'd downloaded onto my Kindle - simply because I had no idea what to read next, it's fairly short, and the first page really grabbed my attention. It's set completely within a vast, self-contained tower block containing not
...more
Guy Portman
Set in an apartment tower block in London, High-Rise is a dystopian tale about the intense animosity that develops between the building’s various floors. The story centres around three main characters - Robert Laing, an instructor at a medical school, Richard Wilder, an aggressive, alpha male type TV documentary producer, and the building’s architect and top floor resident, Anthony Royal.

The building mirrors society’s class distinctions, with the upper echelons, who include television producers
...more
Arwen56
@Ginny

Per carità, carissima, che non ti venga in mente di leggerlo, perché si tratta di un'altra banda di squinternati, che seviziano gatti, mangiano cani, si ammazzano a vicenda senza alcun motivo, affogano nella spazzatura e negli escrementi, giocano alcuni a fare dio, altri a fare i bambini dell'asilo e, per soprammercato, sono pure felici che le cose stiano così.

A dispetto dei fiumi di inchiostro spesi per elogiare questo libro, a me non è piaciuto proprio per niente. L’autore voleva descriv
...more
Adam
This novel is a cross between Lord of the Flies and Absurdist Theater. Another entry in Ballard’s obsessive cataloging of the thin barrier separating humanity from complete savagery and the compliance of technology in breaking of that barrier. The absurdity of the situation (break down of order in a high rise that everyone refuses to leave) and the sensory realism make a disconcerting and affecting blend. An onslaught of sensory details and the darkest cooks and crannies of human malevolence. Li ...more
James
"Later, as he sat on the balcony eating the dog, Doctor Robert Laing reflected on the unusual events that had taken place within this huge apartment building during the previous three months."


A casually disturbing opening line had me pretty much hooked from the start. While dystopian-future books are currently all the rage in science-fiction circles, this is more of a dystopian present. Although possibly seeming far fetched when it was written in 1975, now in 2012 high-rises are springing up all
...more
Justin Evans
Yesterday, I read about an interesting study: books that are awarded prizes receive far more reviews on sites like GR and amazon, but their average rating goes down. Books that are *nominated* receive more reviews, but their average rating stays the same. The authors suggested three possible reasons, but I only remember two: first, readers approach the award winner with unrealistic expectations; second, readers who wouldn't usually read this kind of book are suckered into buying it by the shiny ...more
Andrea Dowd
I'm quitting half-way through. In 'High Rise', the apartment complex with all the amenities you ever need without leaving your apartment complex is like one giant psychological God. People hate each other immediately and take everything as a personal affront. Then they kill people, pets, disorderly conduct ensues, vandalization, utilities going unfixed, factions of "classes" based on floor level...blah blah blah. The women are either whores or become insane, the men are either violent or oblivio ...more
Tfitoby
This was hard work. As mentioned EVERYWHERE the first paragraph is incredible. And the writing style (not to mention quality) is kept up throughout. But it was mentally exhausting to read.

It works perfectly as a microcosm of society and is totally believable. We really are savages at heart. The savage nature of man and beast side by side etc.

I have nothing new to say about the content, there are many excellent reviews already, so i'll keep it short. Well worth reading. Being a masochist may not
...more
Jennifer
I went back and forth between four and five stars here, but High-Rise was really one of my favorite types of books. So five stars it is. It's a cynical bit of apocalyptic fiction with a biting sense of humor about the ways in which bored middle- and upper class communities will create their own sense of danger and drama. Basically the residents of this towering high rise slowly turn against one another in packs, brutalizing first the building and then one other for reasons they never seem to ful ...more
Lobstergirl
Nov 10, 2013 Lobstergirl rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lobstergirl by: Darrell Issa
Shelves: fiction

This is the perfect palate-cleanser for Cranford. I hope it doesn't give me nightmares.

(Lord of the Flies with adults in a luxury high-rise in London.)

It's still a fairly timeless story, if you ignore all the references to "air-hostesses." Ballard's ideas about class stratification are kind of interesting; I noted that academics occupy the highest class and the top floors of the building, whereas doctors and lawyers are only in the middle.

Sample sentence:

Her suede jacket was unbuttoned to reveal
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Jon
The master of the "literal" metaphor, J.G. Ballard gives us a ready-made society in a live-work-play high-rise apartment building/shopping center that devolves into a Lord of the Flies style battle for survival. Consumerism, class struggle, the ingrained tribal tendencies of humans and their quick reversion to animalistic tendencies under duress--it's like a sociology class without all the fun sucked out.

There is always so much to talk about in a Ballard novel, and this is one of the best.
Leo Robertson
Something something high rise... something, something something dogs, eating dogs, violent dogs... concrete, video camera dogs, dogs violence, blood dogs, alsatian concrete bodily fluid dogs posh people, posh names, video camera, concrete, high rise and dogs.

Oh, sorry- spoiler alert.
Melanti
This is my second book by Ballard and they've both given me huge feelings of WTF?! both during and after reading them.

If you take Lord of the Flies and combine it with that Monty Python skit about the roving office building full of marauding elderly accountants you might something similar to this.

I can see that he's trying to talk about how savage we are underneath a thin veneer of civilization that we carefully cultivate - which is very similar to The Drowned World too so this might be a comm
...more
T4ncr3d1
"Un basso indice di criminalità è il segno più certo di una carenza di socializzazione."

Il Condominio è senz'altro uno dei più noti romanzi di J.G. Ballard, al punto da non aver bisogno di una presentazione. Un avveniristico grattacielo abitato da duemila inquilini, appartamenti di tutti i tipi, piscine, ristoranti e scuole, un ambiente claustrofobicamente chiuso e autonomo, una vera e propria città verticale: simbolo e metafora dell'età contemporanea. Leggere questo romanzo, del quale ho sempre
...more
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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
More about J.G. Ballard...
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“They thrived on the rapid turnover of acquaintances, the lack of involvement with others, and the total self-sufficiency of lives which, needing nothing, were never dissapointed.” 19 likes
“First she would try to kill him, but failing this give him food and her body, breast-feed him back to a state of childishness and even, perhaps, feel affection for him. Then, the moment he was asleep, cut his throat. The synopsis of the ideal marriage.” 8 likes
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