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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Book Review: High Rise (1974) by J.G. Ballard

High Rise got a movie version this year.  It was poorly received by critics and audience

Book Review:
High Rise (1974)
by J.G. Ballard

    High Rise is one of several J.G. Ballard titles to rise to "classic" status.  Ballard is best known for his dystopian sci fi and obsession with the intersection of consumer society, sex and death.   High Rise is one of a couple of classic distillations of this obsession that Ballard published in the mid 1970's- the other is Crash.    Ballard may have been the author who suffered the most between the initial edition of 1001 Books and the 2007 revision.  He starts out with seven titles in 2006, and by 2008 he is down to two titles:  Empire of the Sun and Crash.  

   Honestly, I was a little surprised that High Rise made it in the first place.  Not that I didn't enjoy reading High Rise- I've decided that Ballard is one of my favorite authors of this time period- but there is something a little too high concept about the plot of High Rise: What happens when the inhabitants of a brand new high rise turn against one another?  It's also fair to observe that the particular critique of modern life that Ballard is advancing in High Rise:  A concern with the isolation of individuals in block tower flats, isn't the same kind of hot button issue today (or in 2008) that it was in the early 1970's, when urban decay was very much the order of the day.

  There's also the fact that any human being familiar with the crack epidemic and its impact on huge public housing developments in the United States in the recent past will be only mildly shocked by the depredations that the white, upper class, inhabitants of this High Rise visit upon one another.  Call it fiction being outpaced by reality.   

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