Mark's Reviews > Crash

Crash by J.G. Ballard
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's review
Feb 16, 2009

did not like it
Read in February, 2009

This book is an abject failure. It fails to entertain or develop as a story and it fails as a cautionary tale about man's relationship with machines (which I *think* is supposed to be the point).

The protagonist gets in a car wreck and afterwards finds that he becomes extremely aroused whenever he's near a car or looking at accidents. The widow of the man he wrecked into starts exhibiting similar behavior so they start driving dangerously and having sex. Then the protagonist meets an even crazier car-crash fanatic who photographs wrecks and whose ultimate goal is to crash into Elizabeth Taylor. I would say more but that is pretty much 70% of the book right there. Unfortunately this takes place over a few hundred pages because the author can't make it more than a few sentences before devolving into descriptions of car injuries and graphic sex.

Okay, so the story is stupid, but maybe there is a redeeming message buried somewhere in here? After all, cars are often powerful/violent/sexy so maybe a book tying those to human interactions would be worthwhile. Unfortunately the author never manages to effectively link the subjects together. Most of his prose comes across as disjoint and confusing as he tries to combine car layouts with human sexuality.

EXAMPLE: "I wanted to adjust her the contours of her breasts and hips to the roofline of the car, celebrating in this sexual act the marriage of their bodies with this benign technology."
EXAMPLE: "Her strong face with its unmatching planes seemed to mimic the deformed panels of the car, almost as if she consciously realized that these twisted instrument binnacles provided a readily accessible anthology of depraved acts, the keys to an alternative sexuality."

What. WHAT? What does that even mean ?! It goes on like this for pages, the author desperately mentioning sex and cars in the same sentence to make it seem as though his story has a point. Part of me wonders if the whole book isn't just a joke on J.G Ballard's part: an obscene wordplay on the term 'autoeroticism.'
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