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The Atrocity Exhibition

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  4,282 Ratings  ·  248 Reviews
First published in 1970 and widely regarded as a prophetic masterpiece, this is a groundbreaking experimental novel by the acclaimed author of Crash and Super-Cannes, who has supplied explanatory notes for this new edition.
Published May 29th 2001 by HarperCollins (first published 1970)
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Vit Babenco
May 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Atrocity Exhibition is something like a shock therapy – it is painstakingly unpleasant but it makes one react.
“Now that sex is becoming more and more a conceptual act, an intellectualization divorced from affect and physiology alike, one has to bear in mind the positive merits of the sexual perversions.”
The Atrocity Exhibition is a series of dreamscapes or, to be more precise, madscapes born in the sick mind of the protagonist – the psychiatrist with the split and fragmented identity. His vi
Jan 02, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
Impossible to rate or even classify this weird and disturbing book from the late '60s (it's not a novel, it's not a collection of mini-novels, it's not even a psychological treatise, though it has aspects of all three). It explores the links between death/danger and sexuality (his own wife had died suddenly a few years earlier). Parts of it will be thought obscene by many. It reflects Ballard's interests in psychoanalysis and surrealism: the very structure of the book is surreal. All of this mak ...more
Aug 16, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have mixed feelings about this book, as I do about all of Ballard's fictions. Ballard is brilliant, no doubt about that: he possesses one of the clearest prose styles of any writer, a style not just clear but unexpectedly ecstatic in a glacial sort of way. Some of his short stories are among the finest ever written. His collection *Vermilion Sands* in particular is absolutely one of the highest points of the form. As for his novels, they can be astoundingly original but also too obsessive.

Paul Bryant
Nov 01, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels

The Atrocity Exhibition is a really a long poem, like The Waste Land or Four Quartets. This is why it's very easy to reconfigure the text as poetry.

The lost gills of the dying film actress
The pilot watches him from the roof of a lion house
The familiar geometry of the transfigured pudenda
On the way to a terminal zone
A fading harmonic fractured smile spread across the windscreen
The wig amongst the beer bottles
And you, coma : marilyn Monroe
You: coma : Marilyn Monroe

O technique of decalcomania, O su
Dec 28, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Revisited this right before Christmas...

Check out this back cover blurb:

When the ATROCITY EXHIBITION was originally printed (1970), Nelson Doubleday saw a copy and was so horrified he ordered the entire press run shredded.

What Nelson Doubleday allegedly saw that made him figuratively soil himself in righteous indignation was one of the stories near the end of this book entitled 'Why I Want To Fuck Ronald Reagan.' Legend has it that a wag distributed copies of this story (minus title and headings
Nate D
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: wound areas
Recommended to Nate D by: Two M.'s (J. Nichols and Kitchell)
Not exactly a novel, Ballard may have written more involving narratives than this 1970 present-dystopia of modernity in meltdown, but it's unlikely that he has ever surpassed its severe and unsettling perfection of form and function, diamond-hard, brilliant, and single-mindedly focused. While each unit could function as a story (and they were originally published as such in the late 60s) there's also a total cohesion here that makes it more than a collection, into some kind of shambling and uniq ...more
Reading this was like being trapped in a doctor's waiting room and repeatedly bashed in the back of the head with a cast iron frying pan. Not plot driven, not character driven, just a series of graphic montages that just get weirder as the book goes on. At no time during this read could I have explained what was going on, and I was bored silly throughout, with a lot of WTF-did-I-just-read moments. I think the author might have been intended the book to be funny. Perhaps you are not supposed to t ...more
Michael William West
It's enjoyable to see how much the Atrocity Exhibition confuses people, it's a mission accomplished, really, I can't think anything BUT that if you are somehow not confused, then you are missing the point entirely or are selfconsciously trying to understand anything and everything in the world in some vein attempt at pan-sophism. I don't know, perhaps it would help to have had a nervous breakdown to pick apart the flurry of fragments. Or more than one: one to understand, two for context, a third ...more
Murray Ewing
May 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
As a reader of Ballard, I’ve always preferred his early novels (The Drowned World, The Crystal World) and short stories (those collected in The Disaster Area, The Four-Dimensional Nightmare, and The Overload Man). Read Ballard for any length of time and you know he returns to the same obsessive images and landscapes again and again, often to powerful effect. Well, The Atrocity Exhibition is obsessive Ballard taken to the max. It’s the full Ballardian commedia dell’arte, replaying all the variati ...more
By and large, I think J.G. Ballard is awesome, with everything of his I'd read to date being a real treat. Sadly, such things can never last...

Mostly flying at least 100 feet above my head at all times, this book mostly made me feel like a complete dumbass. I understood the meaning of individual words, sentences, and even the occasional paragraph, but as a whole? I know it's got something to do with sex and car crashes, but after that, I'm out. Actually, that's not quite true. There's also somet
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Ballard's Greatest Hits 3 19 Aug 10, 2014 06:55AM  
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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
More about J.G. Ballard...
“Deserts possess a particular magic, since they have exhausted their own futures, and are thus free of time. Anything erected there, a city, a pyramid, a motel, stands outside time. It's no coincidence that religious leaders emerge from the desert. Modern shopping malls have much the same function. A future Rimbaud, Van Gogh or Adolf Hitler will emerge from their timeless wastes.” 65 likes
“All over the world major museums have bowed to the influence of Disney and become theme parks in their own right. The past, whether Renaissance Italy or Ancient Egypt, is re-assimilated and homogenized into its most digestible form. Desperate for the new, but disappointed with anything but the familiar, we recolonize past and future. The same trend can be seen in personal relationships, in the way people are expected to package themselves, their emotions and sexuality, in attractive and instantly appealing forms.” 54 likes
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