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The Atrocity Exhibition: Annotated Paperback – 10 Apr 2014

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate; Annotated edition edition (10 April 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007116861
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007116867
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.8 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 22,000 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

J.G. Ballard was born in 1930 in Shanghai, where his father was a businessman. After internment in a civilian prison camp, he and his family returned to England in 1946. He published his first novel, The Drowned World, in 1961. His 1984 bestseller Empire of the Sun won the Guardian Fiction Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. It was later filmed by Steven Spielberg. His memoir Miracles of Life was published in 2008. J.G. Ballard died in 2009.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Easily one of the 20th century's most visionary writers, JG Ballard still lives far ahead of his time. Called his "prophetic masterpiece" by many, The Atrocity Exhibition practically lies outside of any literary tradition. Part science fiction, part eerie historical fiction, part pornography, its characters adhere to no rules of linearity or stability. This reissued edition features an introduction by William S Burroughs, extensive text commentary by Ballard and four additional stories. Of specific interest are the illustrations by underground cartoonist and professional medical illustrator Phoebe Gloeckner. Her ultra-realistic images of eroticism and destruction add an important dimension to Ballard's text. --Joaquim della Mirandella

Review

‘The zenith of the experimental novel in English’ Will Self

‘Brilliant and unnerving … Ballard is a writer with talent to burn’ The Times

‘These stories – “condensed novels”, Ballard has called them – are a high-water mark in English experimental fiction’ New York Times

‘A powerful book … Phrase and image are constantly disturbing and stimulating’ Sunday Telegraph

‘The terrifying thing about Ballard is his logic; is this science fiction or history written ahead of its time?’ Len Deighton

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By pygstone on 19 May 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Quite a surreal book. Not sure I understood it completely but here goes...
The sexual pathology of the main protagonist is revealed in a series of psychosexual experiments involving the positioning of objects in the geometry of space time. These are attempts to unlock the latent sexuality of, among others, a motorway overpass, a particular arrangement of wrecked cars, or the angle between walls, along with the re-enactment of the (real or imaginary) deaths of the famous in an effort to achieve a sexual ideal; often personified by Elizabeth Taylor.
In each chapter the main character's identity is viewed from another angle, another facet of his personality, and we accompany him through his apparent psychoses. Even his character name changes throughout and sometimes the events and characters appear only in his mind. Other characters, such as Dr Nathan who is our window of rationality in this surreal world, or Karen Novotny the eternal victim, provide their necessary roles in the psychodrama.
I enjoyed reading this book and, having only read one other J.G. Ballard (The Crystal World), will no doubt read another of his work. However, I felt that The Atrocity Exhibition, good though it was, (ironically) didn't really reach the climax I expected. Maybe I just need to read it over again.
The annotation in this edition by J.G. Ballard is essential - although my copy does not have the illustrations mentioned above.
SGL
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Jwe on 6 Sept. 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
I can only assume the Kindle version was scanned from hardcopy as it is full of mistranscriptions..."diem" repeatedly for "them" and dozens of others. Really spoils the read of this fantastic book. Amazon you really need to do something about this.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By "ronthedog" on 3 Oct. 2005
Format: Paperback
Will Self describes this book, on the cover, as representing "the zenith of the experimental novel in English. Ballard's marginalia are a tour de force, a wholy original work in their own right."
This annotated edition with an excellent introduction by William Burroughs and Ballard's own chapter notes, written with over twenty years hindsight, further enhances a novel that already made Ballard stand out as one of greatest soothsayers of the twentieth century.
Obsessively documenting his obsessions and preoccupations, this novel cuts deep into the fabric of contemporary society. Not an easy read but an invaluable testament of our time, now with added historic perspective.
Every good novel should change your life - this will alter your perceptions in an astonishing and radical manner. Not to be missed.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By B. D. Hopkins on 28 Aug. 2005
Format: Paperback
ballard himself said that every paragraph of this frightening, obscure and obtuse puzzle-fiction is a condensed novel. it's true and puts most other writers to shame: experimental and totally transgressive.
the imagination and wayward-intelligence behind the ideas here might lead you to think it was written by an maverick escapee of a mental asylum (maybe travis, trabert, talbolt or traven)but ballard, like orwell and huxley, knows exactly what he's talking about.
there's abandoned airfields where recreations of the jfk assassination take place, studies of the geometry of bits of car in relation to calculated sexual poses, the encyclopedia of imaginary diseases, dali, max ernst, the death-crashes of james dean, albert camus.
first published as a collected 'novel' in 1969 it embodies the start/end of the space race, psychopathology of the modern icon and the possibilities of celebrity car-death.
the annotations by ballard in this edition are very helpful in creating an understanding of some of the less obvious content without detracting from the ferocity of the ideas.
'atrocity exhibition' is the only title this book could possibly have.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rod Williams on 16 Nov. 2011
Format: Paperback
By turns disturbing, inspiring, exciting and baffling, Ballard's at-the-time controversial work is a surreal examination of society's relationship with media, technology and violence.
The structure is a series of what may best be described as tone poems, themselves compartmentalised into labelled sections like the exhibits in the Atrocity Exhibition of the title.
Apart from the last piece `The Assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy Considered as a Downhill Motor Race' (which although true to the themes of the rest of the book seems to have been added as an afterthought) and `The Generations of America' (a list of American names written in biblical style with the word `begot' replaced by `shot') most sections seem to show an alternate reality featuring a central character whose name changes slightly each time: Travers, Travis, Talbert etc.
The Ballard motifs of light aircraft, empty swimming pools, modernist architecture and surrealist art are all well to the fore.

In true surrealist tradition, Ballard often achieves effect by the contrast of disparate images or objects, thus forcing us to make a relationship between the two, such as when he imagines Elizabeth Taylor (an iconic figure of popular culture) with gills; the gills brought to visual life by the comparison to the balconies of the London Hilton Hotel.
other images - another surrealist device - are taken out of context and their scale altered, such as when hoardings display posters of blown-up sections of actresses' faces and bodies. Removed from context they become abstract landscapes, rather like Ballard's prose which, with its surreal metaphors, seems to suggest other meanings lying tantalisingly close beneath the words, but still out of reach of understanding.
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