Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Crash” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.60  ·  Rating details ·  23,193 ratings  ·  1,392 reviews
In Ballard's 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 demis ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published October 5th 2001 by Picador (first published June 28th 1973)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.60  · 
Rating details
 ·  23,193 ratings  ·  1,392 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Crash
Jeffrey Keeten

”I knew that Vaughan could never really die in a car-crash, but would in some way be re-born through those twisted radiator grilles and cascading windshield glass. I thought of the scarred white skin over his abdomen, the heavy pubic hair that started on the upper slopes of his thighs, his tacky navel and unsavoury armpits, his crude handling of women and automobiles, and his submissive tenderness towards myself. Even as I had pl
Jul 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Not a "novel" really—see it as an extended erotic poem instead. It’s one pretty cool experience, & fantastically odd; it’s a journey of infatuation into the erotic element inherent in all car crashes. Like a dada experiment with clashing ideas and absurd pop symbols, everything is sensuous, even human defects are seen through a wholly unique filter, in sharp contrast with the immaculate beauty of the automobile. Sex, like driving, has plenty of potential energy that's stored up—the want for a re ...more
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Before reading this book, I thought I was worldly, weary, and wise. I thought I had seen all the perversity and sex that modern novels could deliver. I thought I understood fetish.

I understood nothing.

This is a wild poem in novel format drawing out the most sexual visualizations. I could compare it with Anaïs Nin with her absolute poetry of sex, but to do so would ignore the absolute grotesquerie of Ballard's coupling with mangled machinery.

This is a novel of car crash survivors being unable to
Steven Godin
A non-erotic, shocking and deeply disturbing auto wreck of perverted sexual carnage that just about stayed within the limitations of what my poor self could bare. Credit to J.G. though for having the balls, guts and all the rest of it to write something of this nature where many would look at this as a piece of attention seeking soft porn, I am not one of them, as believe it or not look beyond the car parts, body parts, twisted minds, and there is a deep underlying message concerning the human p ...more
Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favoritism
Uh, I’m pretty sure it’s a metaphor.

Just kidding.

I never read reviews of a book I’m about to gobble or have just finished, lest they unduly influence my perception. Last night, however, I did make the mistake of looking at my friends’ reviews of this (you’re all good) and accidentally glanced at the opinion of the Goodreadersphere-at-large. Holy moly, talk about divisive! The few I read indicated that the vox populi of GR place Crash somewhere next to cancer and the Holocaust on the list of worl
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
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Crash is a wondrous symphony of amorality, sex and self-destruction. The juxtaposition of depraved, compulsive sex acts alongside twisted scenes of automotive horror is relentless, excessive, and taken to outrageous, darkly comical extremes. The novel is a mockery, pointing towards societal excess and general alienation, through which the blind amorality of sexual desire seems a natural driving force. The concept of the novel is ridiculous on its face, but the author is complicitly self-aware, e ...more
Mar 17, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Apr 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
motorway/cleft/instrument panel/wound/windshield glass/vulva/chromium/flesh/bonnet/anus/grills/scars/flyover/nipple/collision/orgasm

Reassemble the above as needed with growing tension, increasing pace, and obsessive circular repetition. A sense of intimacy being separated from humanity; an insertion of clinical sterility into the most personal and social; a disconnection; a speeding carnival of horrors and depravity. A voyeuristic, sado-masochistic de-evolution. A mind jolted askew and accelera
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Turns out reading this "auto-erotic" novel in a moving car does not actually heighten the experience. In a twist of irony, the car makes me infinitely more sick than this sly book ever could alone. Reading while driving does make the "crash" part a lot easier, however.

I saw the Cronenberg adaptation before reading the book, and the film left a deep impression on me. Here you have pure science fiction at its wonkiest: the role technology plays in human life, both individual and societal, taken to
Vit Babenco
Jan 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
“The long triangular grooves on the car had been formed within the death of an unknown creature, its vanished identity abstracted in terms of the geometry of this vehicle. How much more mysterious would be our own deaths, and those of the famous and powerful?”
Sexual dystopia? Sure. But Crash is much wider than this – it is a sinister obsession with death and desire. And J.G. Ballard is Marquis de Sade of the motorized century.
The novel seemed to me a bit too pathological.
“Their bare thighs modul
Dec 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you've never read Ballard, and you're 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 kno
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
Apr 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016, smut
Martin Amis calls JG Ballard "a cult writer, the genuine article: extreme, exclusive, almost a one-man genre," and Crash is like nothing else. Its characters - its lead just has Ballard's name, like he can't be bothered to fake anything - are unapologetically amoral, sociopathic, almost automatic: they're into what they're into and they just go after it. Robert Vaughan, "nightmare angel of the expressways," wants to murder Elizabeth Taylor. No one mentions that murder is bad. It's an interesting ...more
Benoit Lelièvre
Jun 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
I wanted something wild and unpredictable and I was served.

While I still believe HIGH-RISE is J.G Ballard's immortal novel, mixing sex and car crashes wasn't a bad idea at all. It's extremely pornographic for 2018's literary standards, so I can only imagine catholic priests running after Ballard with blow torches when it came out, so they could let the devil out of him. Yes, it was prescient of modernity and the commodification of relationships, but... you know... that's... what it was. That and
Jay Green
Jan 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
This and The Atrocity Exhibition are two of my favourite books, precisely because of their weirdness, because they showed the teenage me that something surprising and original could be done with the novel form beyond the staid and traditional forms foisted upon us as A level English students. (My less fortunate peers in the soft South had to make do with Hermann Hesse.)

Both Crash and The Atrocity Exhibition belong very much to their time, of course, but they do encapsulate a sort of postmodern
Jr Bacdayan
Driving is such a pain in the ass. I always imagine myself crashing the car, colliding with a truck full of chickens, or running over a demented pedestrian whenever I’m holding a steering wheel. Not that I’m a bad driver, actually I’m an excellent driver which really means I drive like a sloth. Also, I don’t really aim sexual fulfillment whenever I get into a car. Unlike most people in this novel, a car, for me, is actually something I use to get somewhere. And as opposed to Ballard’s autoperver ...more
Dec 09, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
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
Crash was a very 1990s book, if you were young in Britain and into a certain strain of indie culture. I bought my first copy nearly 25 years ago, probably just before the film was out, and didn't get round to reading that, nor the replacement I bought around 10 years ago. Nearing the end of 2019, I figured I didn't want to carry the novel over into yet another decade unread - and these days it seems ubiquitous in libraries (in an edition embellished with essays by Zadie Smith and non-fiction wri ...more
Jan 20, 2012 rated it liked it
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
L.S. Popovich
A 2008 interview with Vice quoted infamous mangaka, Shintaro Kago, saying: “Shit and sex are merely the starting points, and unless you can tick those off you can’t even begin thinking about a narrative.”

Grotesque literature has its paramours, and Ballard sits in the ranks of William S. Burroughs and Georges Bataille. Examining Ballard’s literary output, you have to wonder what this unbashful bloke was thinking behind those puffy, doughy features. His innocuous, austere sci-fi worlds glisten wit
Aug 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Four and a half stars.

"‘I wanted to write a book in which there was nowhere to hide,’ he told David Pringle in 1975. ‘I wanted the reader, once I’d got him inside the book, never to lose sight of the subject matter. As long as he continued reading he was face to face with the subject matter. It would have been easy to write a conventional book about car crashes in which it was quite clear that the author was on the side of sanity, justice and against injuring small children, deaths on the road,
What’s art?
And what’s its meaning?
Why do human beings feel the urge to create? Where does the inspiration come from? Are we all artists? And what makes a good artist?

Even though these questions cross my mind on a daily basis, I’m as far from finding an answer now as I ever have been.

But then, as I start to think I’m never going to find those answers, I come across a novel like Crash and feel like I’m very close to finally finding the answers I’ve been longing for.

Because, ladies and gentlemen
Lit Bug
Oct 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels, noir, fiction, erotica
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
Apr 17, 2014 rated it liked it
“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
Feb 02, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Jan 05, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Eehhhhh probably no one, to be honest
The best part of Crash was the "Introduction to the French Edition" that's included at the start and isn't in all of the copies. In it, Ballard makes a compelling case for the importance of science-fiction and writing about the future, and a solid argument for why he thought to combine sex and car crashes. Unfortunately, that's the only time in 200-ish pages that he had me convinced.

Ballard's tale of people who get aroused by car crashes and mutilated bodies has aged poorly. In the '70s, it was
K.D. Absolutely
May 14, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  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
Jul 24, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Crash doesn't really have a strong plot, so don't go looking for a satisfying story. Instead, go into this preparing to be hammered with imagery of sex, death, and automobiles, all in vicious technicolour detail.

The narrator (unusually and somewhat trippily named Ballard) finds himself in a horrifying car crash one day. Out of the three passengers involved, there are only two survivors: himself and Dr Helen Remington. Her husband lies dead on the hood of Ballard's car. From here on out, Ballard
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Reading 1001: Crash by J.G. Ballard 5 18 Dec 27, 2020 09:33PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Change page count (a bit complicated) 4 11 Sep 07, 2020 06:33AM  
Boxall's 1001 Bo...: Crash by J.G. Ballard 6 91 Nov 30, 2017 05:36PM  
The Literati: Crash by J.G. Ballard 17 13 Jul 20, 2017 03:39PM  
J.G. Ballard: Crash 13 52 Sep 19, 2013 06:10AM  
Too descriptive? 10 80 Aug 09, 2013 02:22PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Story of the Eye
  • Naked Lunch
  • Money
  • England's Hidden Reverse:  A Secret History of the Esoteric Underground
  • Last Exit to Brooklyn
  • Frisk
  • Art Sex Music
  • The Thirst for Annihilation: Georges Bataille and Virulent Nihilism (An Essay in Atheistic Religion)
  • A Scanner Darkly
  • Blue of Noon
  • The Rules of Attraction
  • American Psycho
  • The Wasp Factory
  • The Soft Machine (The Nova Trilogy #1)
  • Ghosts of My Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures
  • My Idea of Fun
  • The Death of Bunny Munro
  • The Crying of Lot 49
See similar books…
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

News & Interviews

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
14 likes · 0 comments
7 trivia questions
1 quiz
More quizzes & trivia...
“I wanted to rub the human race in its own vomit, and force it to look in the mirror.” 132 likes
“After being bombarded endlessly by road-safety propaganda it was almost a relief to find myself in an actual accident.” 78 likes
More quotes…