on 10 April 2010
Of all Ballards mid-period books, I find this one to be his most haunting. Appearing between Empire and Kindness, it steps away from the intimacies of Ballard's own life and explores the deep places within us all. The journey along the river is a perfectly conceived metaphor for the journey into our own interiors. Although Ballard has done this before in his earlier books, he brings a new maturity and a new control to this work. His writing has improved considerably by this stage and the strength of the basic structure allows Ballard to explore inner space as never before. It is not a particularly pleasant place, but he understands how we work and how the modern world is an evocation of those deep, dark layers within us.
on 27 August 2007
I couldn't disagree more with the previous reviewer. While I've always favored Ballard's early classics, this mid-period novel is also a classic.
As Dr. Mallory wanders through this 'fever dream' landscape of modern Africa, much like the river than bears his name, you get glimpses of Ballard's brave new world. The one in which we live today: a wasteland, one littered with "beer bottles, cigarette packs and French pornographic magazines" , old air conditioners, water coolers, tires and fuel drums, in short "a terminal moraine of modern technology".
Ballard is a social theorist, as well as the best writer of English fiction of the 20th Century. Certainly that informs his writing.
All in all, this is one of Ballard's best novels of the 80's. I've owned them all, and have read some of them a dozen times. I recommend this book to all who love his prose, his vision, and his view of the world.
You decide, do you believe me or the previous reviewer?
on 10 June 2002
a "metaphysical" novel apparently. i recently read paul auster's new york trilogy which seems to try to work on a similar level, but where auster succeeds in creating a wonderfully eerie confusion of events which cannot be questioned, ballard fails. it tries to be clever, but you find yourself being able to pick apart why it really doesnt make sense.