Entertaining and very informative in parts. Culminates in an intriguing research idea for analysing Ballard's texts. However, this project never concludes and becomes part of the highly doubtful content of the book. The shoehorning of Ballardian narrative similitude at every opportunity is painfully sketchy at times. I found my inner voice just saying 'BS' at the end of many of the paragraphs.
I suppose the point is that this is an attempt to relay a period of life by identifying massively with various characters in Ballard stories, and with Ballard himself. So in a way it's kind of cosplaying, but with characters that you wouldn't normally find being taken up by cosplayers. I felt that much of the events have been re-invented to align with Ballard type scenarios, and that at the time they occurred in the authors life nothing Ballardian was really happening at all. This would align with Ballard's own writing, he mythologised his own life into a weird array of semi-fictitious auto-biography.
For me the book is spoiled by the re-presentation of large sections of fairly mundane conference papers, that get lengthier throughout, framed in a narrative that presents these as the work of an idiosyncratic academically challenged imposter somehow undertaking a Ballardian activity. However as a PhD student nothing could be more normal than for the author to present paper's at various conferences around the world. Undoubtedly a young academic would most likely feel the lack of confidence portrayed, but the aggressive response to this self-doubt is quite sad. The peppering of various cultural theorists early on, Virilio, Baudrillard etc., is at odds with the books anti-intellectual position - why name-drop all these academic referents if they're unimportant?
Large sections of the book consists of basic synopses of Ballard's novels and short stories which offer little interpretative insight.
A central motif of the book is a photo of Ballard from i-D magazine, where apparently he's revealing the white of his eye / the pink of his eye in a biker gang gesture. Look the photo up - he's doing nothing of the sort. It is a weird photo but it looks more like he's making an 'OK' sign in front of his eye, or he's somehow interpreting the classic i-D magazine 'winking eye' motif from all of their cover photos throughout their entire history. Or he's just been caught by the photographer mid-gesture. Anyhow, he's not doing what a key part of the book claims that he's doing.
Space alien sightings and an underlying macho violence are the worst parts, along with a vivid description of Second Life as though it's a real place.... I suppose the violence and blurring of reality is meant to tie in with aspects of Ballard's writing, but it feels like the punch-ups, muggings, running from bike gangs, hitting people in the face etc etc. are really events that would only happen to aggressive idiot.
- Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: Urbanomic; 1 edition (15 September 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0995455074
- ISBN-13: 978-0995455078
- Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.9 x 19.8 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 358 g
- Customer Reviews: 8 customer ratings
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 158,709 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)