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Crash

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  10,161 ratings  ·  640 reviews
In this hallucinatory novel, the car provides the hellish tableau in which Vaughan, a "TV scientist" turned "nightmare angel of the highways," experiments with erotic atrocities among auto crash victims, each more sinister than the last. James Ballard, his friend and fellow obsessive, tells the story of this twisted visionary as he careens rapidly toward his own demise in ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published April 26th 1990 by Flamingo (first published 1973)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Evan
This book is a sausage made out of roadkill...and glass shards. And forced similes and metaphors strewn about the highway, ugly as a car wreck.

So much semen is spurted and wiped on the dashboard instrument panels that I ceased after awhile to wonder or care how our motorists could even read the dials.

So many commas and clauses litter the paragraphs like so many slashed half-moon rubber tires lining the interstate that one hopes Ballard did not race past the tollbooths and rob the inventors of co
...more
Mariel
May 07, 2012 Mariel rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: this is a long drive for someone with nothing to think about
Recommended to Mariel by: I could have told you all that I love you
Butt on the leather interior. Make that the hard seat vinyl sticking to the fart sound rubbing flesh like sweaty underwear that has crawled up sun don't shine places and worn for far too long and far too worn down. Ass in the seat of humanity. Hand on the wheel and the other masturbating a Johnson. Not Lyndon Johnson. Gotta be Ronald Reagan. I admit I haven't thought about wounded Ronald Reagan much since just say no to drugs! kindergarten sticker days to come up with any euphemisms in his honor ...more
Chris
Mar 21, 2008 Chris rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: perverts of the most sordid rank
There are very few movies even remotely interesting enough to warrant reading the book it was adapted from; but back in the glorious years of the late 1990’s, when I saw David Cronenberg’s masterful adaptation of “Crash”, I knew there was absolutely no way I could go wrong with the book. Let’s face it, there is absolutely no way that you can sit through the entirety of the film and not get it on with whoever happens to be in close proximity, but just make sure there is someone there, even if it’ ...more
Melanie
Aug 24, 2008 Melanie rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: bicyclists?
Shelves: 2008
Reading this book wore me out. I like Ballard, I think he's a writer who really gets technology, modernity, isolation, etc., and I'm pretty non-judgmental about even sort of far-out fetishes, but what kept flashing through my brain was GRATUITOUS GRATUITOUS WHEN WILL THIS BOOK END ARRGH. And I don't even mean that it was gratuitous with the sex-and-accidents stuff (although it was)--the blunt, increasingly inelegant repetition of Ballard's arguments made a compelling idea, after a certain point, ...more
Lit Bug
Vaughan dies in his final car-crash. The car he stole from his friend James Ballard, the narrator-cum-character, ten days ago. It was his last crash, the one he had planned meticulously during the course of his friendship with Ballard. His earlier crashes were but rehearsals for this final performance, when he would crash the car into the limousine of American actress Elizabeth Taylor, killing both of them in an orgy of flesh and metal, an erotic encounter that would reach its mutual orgasm at t ...more
Jan-Maat
The edition I read came with an introduction by the author in which he wrote:
...we live in a world ruled by fictions of every kind - mass-merchandizing, advertising, politics conducted as a branch of advertising, the pre-empting of any original response to experience by the television screen. We live inside an enormous novel. It is now less and less necessary for the writer to invent the fictional content of his novel. The fiction is already there. The writer's task is to invent the reality.

In t
...more
Joshua
Mar 03, 2008 Joshua rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: masochists, perverts, sickos, auto enthusiasts
Less of a conventional narrative arc-based novel and more of an exercise in rhythm and repetition of key phrases and imagery, Crash is not pleasurable reading. Nor, I figure, is it intended to be. It is extremely challenging, primarily owing to the graphic sex and violence, but also due to the clinical language Ballard employs to disengage the reader from the characters and their actions. The injuries are as distant as an anatomy textbook's illustrations. The sex is robotic. The word "mucus" see ...more
Nandakishore Varma
I know this avant-garde novel is supposed have opened up brave new vistas in dystopian fiction, by "boldly going where no man has gone before". The courage of J. G. Ballard has to be admired the way he links violent death with sex: his narrative structuring is exemplary. However, I simply could not get into the book even after three or four tries. The characters were extremely unlikeable: the main premise was bizarre: and the story failed to hold my interest. I did not finish it.

So I will have t
...more
Leah
I have no idea how to review this. Such a spectacular failure of a novel. It made me uncomfortable, bored me, nearly drove me insane with its redundancy (if I read the words "chromium" or "semen" again in the next year it will be too soon), and then little flashes of brilliance would cut through the masturbatory pseudo-intellectualism and startle me alert. I've been thinking obsessively about this book even while I avoided reading it. It annoyed the hell out me and it has so many flaws as a piec ...more
Apatt
“Two months before my accident, during a journey to Paris, I had become so excited by the conjunction of an air hostess's fawn gaberdine skirt on the escalator in front of me and the distant fuselages of the aircraft, each inclined like a silver penis towards her natal cleft, that I had involuntarily touched her left buttock.”
Say whaaat??!! Honestly, what the hell is this book I just read? What was the author smoking when he was writing it? (And where can I get some?). I have to say this is one
...more
JBedient
If you've never read Ballard, and your curious, this is the book you want to start with. I won't get into the plot or the antiseptic, yet haunting, prose. I'll just say that all the motifs of Ballard are here, and they are presented with crystal clear precision, with touches of what I'd call industrial surrealism.

Some people find the book a little cold and detached -- but that's the whole point -- Ballard is not a Garcia Marquez, he's not painting a romantic picture full of pastels(I'm not knock
...more
Brian
And now it's time for J.G. Ballard's phantasmagoria of motorcars and masochism, spark plugs and sodomy. This book makes Tarantino's "Death Proof" look like bumper cars. Tyler Durden would take the bus before riding with anyone from Ballard's cast.

Unbeknownst to you and I, technology has altered modern life right down to its core, right down into the autonomic nervous system, where the oldest and most vital functions live. Oh yes, sex has come under the domain of our technology. We're responding
...more
K.D. Absolutely
Jun 27, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 100 Must-Read Books for Men; 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
Shelves: 1001-core, guy-lit
This pornographic novel is sickening and pointless even if it delves on a medical condition called symphorophilia or being sexually aroused by being part or witnessing car-crash incidents. All the characters in this novel are either crippled or with scars because of having participated in intentional or simulated car crashes.

I've heard it many times that men with small penis tend to own big and expensive cars. I think this is due to the notion that car can be a penis substitute. However, in this
...more
Kyle
This is my second or third reading of Ballard's Crash and I'm still amazed by every theme this book expels. I find the relationship between car crashes and the technology of the body so fascinating--there's just so much Ballard does with sexuality and his prose achieves a beautiful elegance that really makes reading a seemingly gruesome and pathological story incredibly enjoyable. A part of me can't help feeling liberated after reading certain passages...

Crash is easily the most daring and revol
...more
Aaron
What interests me most about Crash is that despite J.G. Ballard’s capabilities for beautiful and evocative storytelling (see "Cage of Sand"), I've never read a story that works so hard at being ugly. It almost seems like some sort of bizarre writing exercise that was published by mistake. Crash is a novel so heavily packed with morbidly clinical descriptions of gratuitous sex and violence that it's nothing short of surreal.

Now I've always considered myself a man with a strong stomach. Although C
...more
Đorđe Bajić
Nema dileme, Sudar je klasik savremene svetske književnosti i, uz Kraljevstvo sunca, najpoznatije delo engleskog pisca J.G. Ballarda (1930-2009). Po rečima samog autora, Sudar je “prvi pornografski roman inspirisan modernom tehnologijom”, priča o ljudima koji pronalaze seksulanu nasladu u saobraćajnim nesrećama. Ekpslicitnost i moralna ambivalentnost će verovatno odbiti neke čitaoce, ali će zato oni širih pogleda uživati u subverzivnosti, razigranoj perverziji i superiornom stilu. Bez obzira na ...more
Nate D
Aug 31, 2010 Nate D rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: drivers
Recommended to Nate D by: Cronenberg
I'd heard going in that this novel of eroticized destruction (of automobiles, bodies, is there a difference?) would become somewhat redundant by the end. I mean, it has pretty much exactly one system to discuss: the triangulation of alienated modern life (circa the 70s) between sex, bodily harm, and automotive engineering. Yet the first quarter or so was riveting like a shattered steering column through the lungs. After that, Crash does ebb into a kind of monotony, but a mesmerizing, calculated ...more
Caroline
Crash

I love this book because it focuses on three of my fetishes. Fast cars - Sex - Death. This book is not for those boring morons who live their comfortable lives oblivious of the sheer delight of Taking it to Limit. Which is what Ballard does. He takes risks. He walks on the edge of what literature is. Not only that he succeeds. It takes pure Genius to pull this off.

Let me declare this - you can't understand how fantastic life is until you walk toward the edge of that cliff. Beyond good and
...more
dara
I read this five years ago, and I hated it. I hated it fiercely. I recall thinking it better suited for a short story at best. I am almost tempted to read it again to see if I would still loathe it so strongly or if my reading tastes have changed. In the meantime, I'll just provide what I wrote about it at age seventeen:

I disliked this book so intensely that I feel I have to warn people. I bought this book because Amazon recommended it after I rated some of Chuck Palahniuk's books. Their writing
...more
Louise
Where to start... I've never read a book like this before and doubt I will again. It's one big, pornographic car crash of a novel. It's dangerous, it's obscene, it's filthy, it's exhilerating, reading it makes you feel as if you're driving too fast but once you start you can't take your foot off the accelerator, you have to keep going until you hit the flyover wall at the end.

The story is told through the eyes of the narrator, named after the author, who meets 'nightmare angel of the expressways
...more
Trevor John
Imagine a talented friend of yours picks up his guitar and starts to play the c major scale. He plays within that scale beautifully for a few minutes and continues for a few more and then, some more. Now, he's good but things are getting repetitive, and he notices you fidgeting a bit. He looks directly in your eyes as he continues to play and tells you, "This piece goes on for one hour and twenty-two minutes."

This book is about people who never get more than half a mile away from the airport, w
...more
tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE
This & Ballard's "Atrocity Exhibition" were the peak of his psychopathology of urban living novels. When Cronenberg was making his movie version in Toronto in 1995, I had an acquaintance who was an actor auditioning for the main role ask the casting folks if an obscure composer (myself) wd be considered for the soundtrack. Nope, Howard Shore was always the man. I'd wanted to record samples of all machine noises & substitute them for &/or underlay them w/ all human sounds. Anyway, whe ...more
sologdin
Nutshell: Symphorophiliac handbook that unfortunately comes with inadequate consumer product warning.

Deuteragonist “saw the whole world dying in a simultaneous automobile disaster, millions of vehicles hurled together in a terminal congress of spurting loins and engine coolant” (16). Narrator very plainly regards deuter as a “madman” (19), but is nevertheless drawn into association with him.

Narrator has open marriage, wherein “these pursuits had begun to make all of our relationships, both betwe
...more
Riona
The word "semen" appears in this novel 61 times.

"Blood" appears 78 times.
"Vomit", 11 times.
"Mucus", 8 times.
"Excrement", thrice.
and "Smegma", twice.

That's really all you need to know about this novel.

Oh, and it's about a bunch of people who get off during car crashes. In case you couldn't guess from all the semen.
Hadrian
Hey, everybody, look! Sex! And violence! And more sex! And more violence! And loving detail to all of this! And cars! Sex and violence and cars! Look, semen and blood! Hey, everybody, look at me! Machines are bad, guys, they really are!

How boring. I really should stop.
MJ Nicholls
Sensational. Lurid. Essential. Ballard.
Andrew Wiggins
What is beauty?

That's what Crash is asking the reader to determine, and if your answer conjures up pretty landscapes, flowers and fluffy kittens then perhaps this isn't the book for you.

I don't wish to be snide and elitist about it, but I have a feeling I'm going to be. The reactions some people have to books like Crash and William Burroughs' Naked Lunch, is comparable to those opinions of modern art that come forth with some fervour from people who just don't get it. Now don't get me wrong, it'
...more
Mike Bularz
Crash is an awesome work of perversion and deviance. It challenges the safety of technology, law, and order through the voyeuristic experiences of the narrator Ballard and extremist Vaughan. Critical reviewers on here will tell you that this book is just pornography because they don't get what the author is doing, or his cool attitude towards sex, these people are prudes and you shouldn't accept their dismiss of Crash very seriously. Many of Ballard's works challenge us to re-examine our society ...more
Misha
Jun 12, 2011 Misha marked it as will-come-back-to-later-no-really  ·  review of another edition
Another sleepless night, rain tapping at the skylight again. The sound is so predictable it's become comforting. I'd notice its absence, like the first crisp fall night without the mechanical hum of a fan that's lulled me to sleep all summer. I'm awake far too early, trailing my thumb over my bookshelf. At first I select some Vonnegut to while away the remaining dark hours, but I can't settle into it. I pick up this book, read the first page. Yes, this is the one. Let's see where it takes me.

---
...more
Sean Masterson
I recently discovered the work of a social critic Paul Virilio and his notion that technology cannot advance without creating new forms of disaster. The advent of the train gave us derailment. The airplane brought us the midair collision.

According to Ballard, the automobile brought us weird sex in smashed up cars. And lots of it. These characters are hollow and lack the warmth generally associated with being a mammal. They crawl over one another searching for a connection that technology has le
...more
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J.G. Ballard: Crash 13 37 Sep 19, 2013 06:10AM  
Too descriptive? 10 62 Aug 09, 2013 02:22PM  
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7010931
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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“I wanted to rub the human race in its own vomit, and force it to look in the mirror.” 65 likes
“After being bombarded endlessly by road-safety propaganda it was almost a relief to find myself in an actual accident.” 44 likes
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