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


3.56  ·  Rating details ·  17,970 ratings  ·  1,113 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, 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
3.56  · 
Rating details
 ·  17,970 ratings  ·  1,113 reviews

More filters
Sort order
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
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 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Not a novel really—see it as an extended erotic poem instead. It’s a 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Lit Bug
Oct 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels, fiction, noir, 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 on
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
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
Ajeje Brazov
Apr 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Crash", terzo libro che leggo dell'autore. Dopo la delusione dei due precedenti, mi avventuro attraverso questo romanzo molto controverso e che annovera molti alti e bassi, insomma o lo si ama o lo si odia, addirittura lo si abbandona.
Così mi accingo ad iniziarlo, prima del romanzo vero e proprio, c'è un'introduzione di Ballard, per me straordinaria, che racchiude un pensiero profetico, verso una società fortemente influenzata dalle "macchine", sia nel senso di automobili che di macchine tecnol
Abram Dorrough
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Turns out reading this important, "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.
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
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
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
Evi *
Per pensare certe cose per immaginarle ci vuole un bel lampo di genio una bella fantasia, magari malata o patologica come quella di Ballard, diciamo che la fantasia non gli manca, ma gli manca la capacità di narrare, ha buone idee senza saperle potenziare, scrive e riscrive la stessa pagina, ne leggi dieci le hai lette tutte, identiche sequenze, fotogrammi e descrizioni di immagini che si ripetono in maniera ossessiva facendo abortire ogni tentativo di seguirlo.

C’è Vaughan uno scienziato,
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
Bizarnost ovog romana je fascinantna, kao i količina morbidnosti na nekih dvesta i kusur stranica. Doživljaj prilikom čitanja može se opisati kao izuzetno neprijatno, uznemirujuće iskustvo. Osnova radnje je fetiš, opsesija dovedena do tačke apsurda u kojoj postaje tragična zbog svoje ispraznosti.

Pisac kaže da je Sudar opominjuća metafora odnosa čoveka prema tehnologiji. Efekat šoka je nameran i sračunat da upornim čitaocima sa dobrim nervima i stomakom (:-)) priča ostane u dugom i nezaboravnom
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.
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
Dec 22, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviewed, in-full
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
Feb 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english, reviewed

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
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
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.
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
Jan 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Boxall's 1001 Bo...: Crash by J.G. Ballard 6 79 Nov 30, 2017 05:36PM  
The Literati: Crash by J.G. Ballard 17 13 Jul 20, 2017 03:39PM  
J.G. Ballard: Crash 13 50 Sep 19, 2013 06:10AM  
Too descriptive? 10 76 Aug 09, 2013 02:22PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • J.G. Ballard (RE/Search #8/9)
  • The Ticket That Exploded (The Nova Trilogy #2)
  • Camp Concentration
  • Le Voyeur
  • The Franchiser
  • Grey Area
  • Closer
  • Cronenberg on Cronenberg
  • Ratner's Star
  • Barefoot in the Head
  • The Embedding
  • The Fountains of Neptune
  • Bold as Love (Bold as Love, #1)
  • In Memoriam to Identity
  • The End of the World News
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
“I wanted to rub the human race in its own vomit, and force it to look in the mirror.” 121 likes
“After being bombarded endlessly by road-safety propaganda it was almost a relief to find myself in an actual accident.” 65 likes
More quotes…