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Millenium People
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2019 Book Discussions > Millennium People: Chs. 14-end (spoilers ok) (Apr 2019)

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lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 137 comments Here's a place to discuss themes, plot, writing, through the second half of the novel and to the end.


Clarke Owens | 73 comments I have a question about the end. Is it correct that Rev. Dexter bumps off Gould and Vera, and that David then takes "credit" for it with the cops, who decide that it's a form of justifiable homicide?


Mark | 269 comments I was surprised that the TV presenter murder was real:
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jill_...


Mark | 269 comments ...and his basic premise, that the British would pull down their own house due to the frustration of modern life, was 14 years prescient.


Hugh (bodachliath) | 2576 comments Mod
Mark wrote: "...and his basic premise, that the British would pull down their own house due to the frustration of modern life, was 14 years prescient."

Prescient in some ways, but very wrong in others. In particular, Ballard seems very uninterested in anyone outside the white middle class, and also has a very London-centric view of Britain. Indeed apart from one token Asian character, Ballard's London seems an overwhelmingly white place, very different from today's multicultural city.

The Hungerford shootings and the Jill Dando murder were huge news stories in the UK, but the political climate of the day was much calmer than it is now in these polarised post-Brexit vote times. The book was written at the height of the Blair government's popularity, before the decision to participate in Iraq war, which Blair personally never recovered from.

I was very struck by the lack of political engagement of Ballard's protesters - it was written at a time when Britain's main parties were much closer together than they are now, but even then almost all protests were politically divisive. He also seems uninterested in finance - who is paying for all of these high tech weaponry?

It was interesting to read the book at a time when the streets of London are occupied again (quite largely be the educated middle classes) by climate change demonstrators, but so far these have been entirely peaceful.


Hugh (bodachliath) | 2576 comments Mod
Just posted my review


lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 137 comments I don't know why but somehow I can't help but read this novel autobiographically, and I apply autobiographical criticism as I read along rather than reading the book for itself.

Maybe because no one really talks this way, like these characters talk. Instead of sounding like human dialog, the dialog sounds like provocation delivered straight from Ballard.

For instance from ch 17:

We're living in a soft-regime prison built by earlier generations of inmates. Somehow we have to break free. The attack on the World Trade Center in 2001 was a brave attempt to free America from the 20th century. The deaths were tragic, but otherwise it was a meaningless act. And that was the point.


Clarke Owens | 73 comments Maybe it's just me, but the voice here does not sound unnatural to my ear.


lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 137 comments Clarke wrote: "Maybe it's just me, but the voice here does not sound unnatural to my ear."

I think the characters in this novel sound like they are all speakers in a panel of experts at a conference on urban terror.


Clarke Owens | 73 comments You mean, because they intellectualize. OK. I tried to think of some fictional characters who talk the way I think people talk, and I came up with Raymond Carver. Maybe Flannery O'Connor, for people in her South. Can you think of others? The problem writers have is that they have to write in language that is interesting. Most ordinary conversation is not very interesting to read.


Clarke Owens | 73 comments Thinking about it some more, and confining the issue to the language used by the characters, as opposed to the narrator's language, I guess I don't read Ballard for his characters at all. I've only read 2 other novels by him, but none of them are interesting to me for the characters. I guess what I like is his apocalyptic vision, and the visuals in support of his landscapes.


message 12: by lark (new) - rated it 4 stars

lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 137 comments Clarke wrote: "I've only read 2 other novels by him, but none of them are interesting to me for the characters. I guess what I like is his apocalyptic vision, and the visuals in support of his landscapes. ..."

I think this is the feeling I'm talking about. As I read, I'm more interested in Ballard's vision, and the novels are representative of his unique thinking. So in terms of literary criticism there is this notion of taking the work on its own terms as something separate from the author...in Ballard's case I can't do it.


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