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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely worth reading.
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...
Published on 19 May 2003 by pygstone

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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ereader version full of incorrect words
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.
Published on 6 Sep 2010 by Jwe


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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely worth reading., 19 May 2003
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This review is from: The Atrocity Exhibition: Annotated (Paperback)
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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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ereader version full of incorrect words, 6 Sep 2010
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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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly visionary, 3 Oct 2005
This review is from: The Atrocity Exhibition: Annotated (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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Warning - Kindle Edition Full of Mistakes, 6 April 2011
Great book, obviously, but there are so many typographic errors in the Kindle edition that it really spoils the reading experience. Disappointing.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing - the geometry of virtual un-reality, 28 Aug 2005
This review is from: The Atrocity Exhibition: Annotated (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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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars virtually reality, 15 Mar 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Atrocity Exhibition: Annotated (Paperback)
This fantastically odd book reads like an amphetamine crazed encyclopaedia of the late twentieth century. The world it describes is one in which sci-fi has become a Freudian reality (no surprises for Ballard's fans then), psychiatrists go madder than their patients and mutilated dream characters fall down an enormous replica of Liz Taylor's vagina in an abandoned film set.
I just hope, for the sake of those who haven't read it before, that this new edition is annotated. Otherwise, some of those dense references are a little obscure for those of us who were not around in the 6o's and 70's.
Oh yes, and it's written in the style of the Warren Commission Report, too.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The True Tradition, 30 Jan 2002
This review is from: The Atrocity Exhibition: Annotated (Paperback)
Burroughs was championed in the UK by Ballard and Moorcock, who took his cut-up ideas and made them into something far more refined and socially accurate, though lacking the mad humour of The Naked Lunch.
These stories first appeared in New Worlds, which was running Pynchon, D.M.Thomas, George MacBeth,
Thomas M. Disch, M.John Harrison, James Sallis and a whole lot of talented (and very young!) writers.
They anticipated 'post-modernism' by a good few years. These stories are as good as they were when they first dropped through my mail-box almost thirty years ago. This is the edition to own.
The missing name in this equation, too, is Barrington Bayley, from whom Burroughs borrowed a great deal and who remains the 'forgotten' talent of that still-vital movement of which The Atrocity Exhibition remains one of the central and most essential books. Read this with The Cornelius Quartet and get the buzz that cheered us all up in
the 60s and 70s when angry authors were engaging more effectively with the issues of the world -- none of which have gone away. This book, rather than his better known Crash, proves that Ballard is a true visionary, a true master for the 21st century. It's a great tradition...
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the great books of modern times, 11 May 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Atrocity Exhibition: Annotated (Paperback)
This is the crystallisation of all Ballard did before or since and it's brilliant. Nobody has done anything as good. It is his masterpiece, just as Downriver is Sinclair's masterpiece and Mother London is Moorcock's. These are the three giants of modern fiction. Everything else seems insipid and unengaged. If you've never read Ballard before, start with this. Then, go on to Crash. And if you feel like relaxing, give The Drowned World a go. Ballard's obsessions are constant, but his range is very wide. The Atrocity Exhibition is a metaphysical history of the 21st century, seen from the perspective of the 20th. It really is as good as they say it is!
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book I ever read!, 30 Aug 2005
By A Customer
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This review is from: The Atrocity Exhibition: Annotated (Paperback)
Yes, this is a difficult and complex book. Yes, it is dense, cryptic and multi-layered. Yes, it lacks a clear linear plot. Yes, it is packed with complex and repetitive images. It is also Ballard's finest work, a collection of frames from a film that evokes all the obsessions and symbols of the latter years of the twentieth century.
And to answer the last reviewer, yes, I think it is great.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Challenging but brilliant, 16 Nov 2011
This review is from: The Atrocity Exhibition: Annotated (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.
Like his contemporary, Nigel Kneale who in his play `The Year of The Sex Olympics' prophesied the attraction and danger of reality shows, Ballard foresees a world where we are numb to murder and atrocity, where surveys are conducted on the attractiveness of assassination scenarios.
Paradoxically, and perhaps fittingly and deliberately, Ballard's prose is poetic and seductive and although this book may be seen as part of society's shift toward its desensitisation in terms of its attitude to violence, it is actually a warning to the future.
For readers new to Ballard's work it isn't a good place to start. It's a demanding piece which requires abandoning one's normal expectations of a novel, but one which is rewarding if taken in the right frame of mind.
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The Atrocity Exhibition: Annotated
The Atrocity Exhibition: Annotated by J. G. Ballard (Paperback - 10 April 2014)
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