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Cocaine Nights

3.49 of 5 stars 3.49  ·  rating details  ·  2,797 ratings  ·  136 reviews
The setting for Cocaine Nights is the Costa del Sol and the stylish resort of Estrella de Mar. Into the queasy beauty of this artificial environment steps Charles Prentice, a travel writer from London who has come to visit his brother Frank, manager of the resort's Club Nautico.Frank is in jail, having confessed to setting an explosive fire that has taken five lives. Certa ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published April 16th 1999 by Counterpoint (first published 1996)
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Vanessa Wu
This book started out with tremendous promise. That sounds more patronising than I would like. It blew my mind. Is that better? I couldn't believe I had avoided this author for so long. If you are an avid reader, not reading J.G. Ballard is like depriving yourself of air. Each sentence glitters with intelligence. The rhythm, the poise, the vocabulary, the imagery are all perfect. He has a fine sense of character and there is passion beneath his hard, cynical edge.

But as the book goes along it d
...more
James
After enjoying High Rise so much, we went on a bit of a spending spree and bought several Ballard novels to follow it up. In part because it was recently the work book club choice (although I'm not actually a member) Cocaine Nights was the first one out of the pile. As with High Rise this is the tale of something we think we know, British ex-pats moving to Spain, but somehow corrupted beyond our expectations by some trigger event. With High Rise it was the loss of power; with Cocaine Nights ...more
R.
Okay, let's look at this: Marc Bolan recorded "Dandy In the Underworld" which had lyrics which referred to 'cocaine nights'...then died in a car crash because his usual Rolls was loaned out to Hawkwind, an offshoot band project of sci-fi author Michael Moorcock, who was friendish with J.G. Ballard who wrote a book - three years earlier - about car crashes and then, you know, this book twenty years later.

Ana
Before reading this, I read a lot of reviews about it and most of them said that yes, it starts well and the pace picks up a bit, but then, some 80 pages in, it starts to lose it. Like the author just ran out of fuel and decided to take the flight without it.

They were *sorta* right. Its beginning is really nice and you get the feeling that this is going to be such an amazing story and wow-how-much-fun-you're-gonna-get.. but then there's no enthusiasm anymore. It's just.. gone.

This Estrella De
...more
Maxime Daher
Mar 28, 2010 Maxime Daher rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: My worst enemies
The sheer existence of such a publication proves that 1) If there is a God, She is a cruel sadist who makes readers pick up books with funky titles on the weight of the sheer hype of the author and that the book had been actually shortlisted for numerous prizes, before bludgeoning them (the reader) with the most ridiculous plots, the most cliché phrases, the most flat and/or plagiarized characters, and the worst command of the English language coupled with scaling-walls-with-fingernails-awful wr ...more
Lyn
As much as Ballard is my favorite sociologist, his story-building skills frustrate me sometime. This is exactly the case with this book. The plot is promising... and I really enjoyed his observations and thoughts on social order, self-definition and human behavior. There are many mind-boggling ideas and projections that are even more fascinating when you realize it was written during the 90s. BUT it is no fun to read it. The characters are interesting yet rather shallow, the story drags on, I ac ...more
Guy Portman
A house fire in the upmarket British expat enclave of Estrella de Mar on the Costa del Sol results in five deaths. Frank Prentice, the manager of the popular Club Nautico, pleads guilty and is charged with murder, but no one believes he committed the crime, not even the police. Frank’s brother Charles travels from the U.K. to investigate the crime and find the culprit.

Charles discovers that Bobby Crawford, Estrella de Mar’s amoral and charismatic head tennis coach, is the orchestrator of a soci
...more
Josh Friedlander
Definitely feel the need to justify this rating, and my disappointment with Ballard (who feels like a "writers' writer") in general. Got pretty far into a review using John Updike's nexus of critique, but then the internet happened, and GR decided to erase it all. I'll try and replace the loss soonish.

Update:

Firstly, I'm planning to read The Drowned World, and I listened to My Dream of Flying to Wake Island on The Guardian's fiction podcast, but beyond that this novel is my first foray into Ball
...more
Erik
The perfect book, I suppose, has three things going for it: (1) great, realistic characters, who are transformed in believable, often desirable ways, (2) an interesting and perhaps unpredictable plot that holds our attention, not to mention holds water in whatever stream of reality the story finds itself, and (3) eloquent writing.

And then we have Cocaine Nights by J.G. Ballard, author of Crash and Empire of the Sun.

“Crossing frontiers is my profession,” Charles Prentice states at the book’s ope
...more
Emma
What is it with ageing male writers and 'disturbing' dystopian visions of the fate of humanity? Along with McCarthy's "The Road" or Houellebecq's "Atomised", Ballard spends the whole novel beating us about the head with another tired, gloomy, and inevitably terminal prognosis for the world.

Cocaine Nights, sadly, lacks the poetic prose of "The Road" or the more robust intellectualism of Houellebecq. It revolves around one central premise. We're all heading towards a future of unlimited leisure, a
...more
Lou Robinson
Another J G Ballard that I have really enjoyed. I think it's because although his stories have a fantastical element to them....in that you can't REALLY see how things would turn out as they do in his books...they are at the same time very believable. Cocaine Nights is almost more believable than the other Ballard novels I've read, I had no problem picturing the endless Spanish resorts filled with British expat retirees and the complex characters that he has created.
A star down, as the ending un
...more
Katie Grainger
J G Ballard likes to focus on small communities and how they function, this theme can be seen in a number of the books he writes. In Cocaine Nights the focus falls on a small Spanish resort in which an awful crime has taken place.

Five deaths have taken place in a horrific house fire and Frank Prentice has confessed to the crime. When his brother arrived Charles arrives at Estrella De Mar determined to discover who started the fire. However the longer Charles stays at Estrella De Mar the more he
...more
Stephen Curran
Certainly the most conventionally structured Ballard novel I have read, but even within the confines of a murder mystery plot, the author's usual preoccupations burst forth: liberation in transgression, liberation in flight, drained swimming pools, psychiatrists, the dangers of boredom. He is one of those rare writers who, while you are reading his works, alters the way you perceive the world. Everything becomes a stage set, ready to be torn down.

I wonder what I would have made of Cocaine Nights
...more
T4ncr3d1
"E' il sangue il prezzo dei vostri festival d'arte e del vostro orgoglio civico."

Cocaine nights è, se la numerazione non m'inganna, il quart'ultimo romanzo di Ballard, è soprattutto caratteristico dell'ultima fase dello scrittore, ossessionata dall'indagine della violenza umana, dispiegata nella forma di uno svago senza inibizioni, o di una rivolta della media borghesia, fino al terrorismo urbano. Questo romanzo, a ben vedere, riprende la tematica lanciata dal più celebre Condominium, depurandol
...more
Maria Borland
I wanted to like this book far more than I did. As with 'Crash', Ballard confronts the excesses of contemporary society with unflinching conviction and a knack for nauseating medical details. The story rests on the intelligent conceit of an expat mediterranean society that utilizes crime as a means to wake itself up from valium induced stupor. Instigated by an evergreen ex tennis pro who envisions a world where people are forced to connect with their surroundings in a manner that involves both c ...more
Jacquelynn Luben
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Maryann
I didn't know what to expect from a book titled "Cocaine Nights", so I was surprised when I really, really liked it. Charles' brother, Frank, has been accused of multiple murders in a tiny resort town in Spain and has pleaded guilty. Charles travels to the town to investigate what happened for himself, knowing his brother could not have harmed anyone, let alone killed several people. Estrella de Mar is a thriving, exciting town with an interesting cast of characters. Charles falls into the charm ...more
Bob Hartley
This book's very British, in a more serious Tom Sharpe kind of way, almost. I thought before reading it that it would be about hedonism, and while hedonism is a theme, it turned out to be a whodunnit of sorts. I don't mind, because, like how a teenage girl has nothing to wear, I had nothing to read.

The writing is a bit odd, a mélange of international English variants, which baffled me with its juxtapositions at first, but made sense when I realised the narrator is a travel writer. He's full of q
...more
Chris Meigh
A book so Ballardian that it almost falls into its own category. Charles Prentice arrives in Spain to see his brother, Frank, who has been arrested following a fire in the exclusive resort of Estrella de Mar. Upon Charles’ arrival he becomes submerged in a world of drugs, violence and perverse sex that swallows him and transforms him into the very thing that he set out to destroy.

Cocaine Nights is the very definition of Ballardian fiction in which crime, sex and drugs are all amalgamated togeth
...more
Raro de Concurso
Este parece ser el año de Ballard:

A la exposición homenaje montada en el Centro de Cultura Contemporánea de Barcelona («J. G. Ballard: Autopsia del nuevo milenio» y con comisario a Jordi Costa) y a los planes del director canadiense Vincenzo Natali de llevar «Rascacielos» a la gran pantalla, se han sumado ahora la publicación de «Bienvenidos a Metro-Centre» -su nueva y tal vez última novela-; la edición de los cuentos reunidos en «Fiebre de guerra» -algunos de los cuales no habían sido traducido
...more
Sam Woodfield
This is a really timeless novel which, although written in the 1990's could take place in any modernt seaside resort. Ballard has really touched upon a subject which I felt represented pockets of modern society to a tee.

Ballards first person narrative really draws you into the world of the Costa Del Sol resorts which feature at the heart of this novel, and the 'psychological experiment' taking place there. The concept of crime inducing activity and community in a sleepy little retirement town is
...more
Grigoria
"Cocaine Nights" belongs to the genre of crime fiction, instead of Sci-fi, as I would have guessed by the author. In spite of this fact the atmosphere it is built around is similar to the one in Ballard's science fiction books (although I must admit I am no expert on him, having read so far "The drowned world" and "High-Rise"- the latter being of my favourite books). The story is taking place in the worm lieu of a high-class resort for retired central-Europeans at the equator and it involves pas ...more
Mr_wormwood
First time reading Ballard. I've heard of him before, and often in the context of Burroughs work. So after the Burroughs biography i thought i'd give him a go. It was well worth it. Although the story itself, is lacking something, i don't know what. Nevertheless the ideas he's playing with here are fantastic stuff. Particularly liked his romanticism of Crime, Its definitely something that he shares with Burroughs, as well as Genet (another Burroughs favourite)but played out here in a distinct fa ...more
David Corvine
I was expecting a dystopian vision with surrealist shifts as in High-Rise but it turned out to be a crime thriller. Initially I supposed that Mr. Ballard was using this genre as a cover story in order to present another reality... if this was the case then the camoflage is very effective. The sociological premise that we will all be living in an leisure society and experiencing increasingly extended retirements, although a valid supposition at the time of writing, now seems to be whimsical wishf ...more
Lauren
Considering I picked up this novel as a 14 year old, thinking I was really edgy for owning a book about drugs, I'm glad that I had read and adored other Ballard before finally completing it, 16 years later. This book is in no way his best, but it still - just about - held my interest until the end.

I think where this booked failed for me was that the philosophies and description of the book's dystopia was delivered via the mouthpiece of Bobby Crawford. They were the coked up rants of a mad man,
...more
Zaki
This started off brilliantly, got really confusing in the middle and was somehow very dissatisfying in the end.
Kirilov.
In terms of sheer quality, wildly varied, with prose that is alternately shockingly [and, ime, rather uncharacteristically for jgb] clumsy and beautifully pointed. Was massively disappointed in the beginning to find this was going to be a mystery genre-novel-- a genre, on the whole, insufferably pedestrian and pretty much inherently shit, but from there I obvs. figured I should try to give jgb the benefit-of-the-doubt though, where possible. My expectation was to dig into it more to find both a ...more
Dawn
It started out slow, but the more I read the more sucked in I became. The story centers around a man (Charles) who has come to visit his younger brother (Frank) who has been jailed. Frank is accused of murdering five people who live in the resort/retirement community that Frank owns. He pleads guilty but Charles (and everyone else) is convinced that Franks is innocent. So who really did it and why is Frank saying he's guilty? That's what the book centers around. At first Charles goes around inte ...more
John Kenny
Quite apart from the fact that Cocaine Nights is by J.G. Ballard, the book design (design and marketing does work, even if all that silver foil ends up on my sweaty little fingers. I have books where you can't see the title or the author’s name until you open the cover) and the premise of the story were enough to attract me to this novel. Charles Prentice arrives in the Spanish resort of Estrella de Mar, an exclusive enclave for the rich and retired British, hot on the heels of news he has recei ...more
Rachel
Very much a crime thriller, it wasn’t really what I expected. Although cocaine was mentioned as a past time I expected a book at lot more about parties and the drug culture, rather than a crime novel, trying to prove the innocence of one of the characters after a house fire. It is set in the ex-pat community of the Costa Del Sol during the 1990’s and does give an idea of the hedonistic lifestyle and has a darker undertone that you do not really begin to see or understand until 2/3s of the way th ...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
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Crash Empire of the Sun High-Rise The Drowned World Concrete Island

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“Put a higher value on yourself. Being hyper-realistic about everything is too simple a get-out.” 15 likes
“Yes, we gave her drugs - we wanted to free her from those sinister clinics up in the hills, from those men in white coats who know best. Bibi needed to soar over our heads, dreaming her amphetamine dreams, coming off the beach in the evening and leading everyone into the cocaine night.” 2 likes
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