4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 18 March 2001
Containing stories written in the early to mid sixties "The Terminal Beach" is arguably the best collection of Ballard's short fiction. It is not, in my opinion, overly hubristic to claim that two of the pieces, "The Drowned Giant" and the story of the collection's title (both written in 1964)are worthy of comparison to shorts produced by literary masters like Kafka and Borges. In the former, a dead giant - the body of a man of "Homeric statue" is washed ashore on the coast of an unknown city. What surprises the reader however is the reaction of the citizens towards this "amazing event": even Swift's Gulliver might be surpised. In "The Terminal Beach", Ballard grapples head on with the existential angst of the Cold War, or as the protagonist Traven calls it, "The Thermo-nuclear Noon" of Western Culture. This story, with its strangely fractured narrative style, was a ground-breaking move for the author which led to classics like "The Atrocity Exhibition" and "Crash". The remainder of the collection is supported by pieces of high quality, if not, so mercurial as the two leads. "The End-Game" is a study of guilt and innocence (Ballard fans will remember the importance of these themes to "Empire of the Sun") whilst "The Delta at Sunset" and "The Gioconda of the Twilight Noon" draw upon the author's surrealist imagination. If you only ever read one collection of Ballard shorts (if you ever find yourself looking out across the sea from the world's last beach!)this is the one to take.