1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Violence as recreation...
This is an interesting novel that melds one of Ballard's warning fables of the near-future with a whodunnit mystery, as a man tries to find out why his brother is pleading guilty to the charge of killing five people, when everyone is sure of his innocence. It's interesting and strange, but the novel doesn't quite succeed as well as it might though - Ballard's ideas on a...
Published on 3 July 2007 by Jane Aland
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Late Ballard, a bit tired
This was another book I read upon finishing my English Literature degree, eight years ago, for light relief. The fact that it was modern and that it was set in sunny Spain appealed to me, but the book didn't live up to my expectations. I'd found Empire of the Sun stuffy when I had read it at school, but I had liked Crash very much, thinking it in fact a masterpiece (a...
Published on 29 May 2008 by Greshon
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Violence as recreation...,
This is an interesting novel that melds one of Ballard's warning fables of the near-future with a whodunnit mystery, as a man tries to find out why his brother is pleading guilty to the charge of killing five people, when everyone is sure of his innocence. It's interesting and strange, but the novel doesn't quite succeed as well as it might though - Ballard's ideas on a future society of idle zombies and the shocking methods needed to 'wake them up' are disturbingly compelling, and the whodunnit mystery is at least initially intruiging, but the novel never quite gells into a satisfying whole. Still, an interestingly bizarre scenario, though Ballard would mine similar territory more succesfully in his next novel Super-Cannes.
5.0 out of 5 stars Crime as Moral Redemption,
Briliant satire on lower middle class aspirations brimming with the desire to remain immobile and passive acting out a living boredom. This book provides valuable insights into the imaginary dream of going abroad to live out the lie. Ex Pats trapped in sepia memories of "Great" Britain; faded and tinged, popping up on yahoo websites to bark out their acidic recollections.
A connection between those who stayed and those who returned are the encoded memories. Relating to the time they left, nostalgic Britain; class divided, 60's/70's/80's football/TV shows, music (Glam, Mod, RNB, Soul) and all those carefully prepared memories of how it was round 68 Butterworth St. or Corporation Avenue; back in the day.
Returning, now all gone, bulldozed and transformed.
Lying in the sunshine soaked and baked in relative wealth the escapees feel the oil soak in as they lie on top of a shag pile. Instead, whilst living in glamorous surroundings; pueblo stucco, swimming pool, barbercue, sunshine, beach; an echo of various style over substance boredom drops in for a coffee, resonating with an inner doused ennui. Modern facades based on crowing outwardly to neigbours, portraying german success, whilst secretly craving life back in the council house.
Within the novel they drink themselves silly, intrigue, and then swap their partners. Bored with this lifestyle, go to the sands and keep on digging, looking for something that isn't there, a mirage inside the head. Theres only so much sun you can take.
This novel is full frontal nude expose of someone, who roles a conductor of communal violence to form social glue. A rainmaker, a facilitator, the catalyst for bringing all those soaked in social ennui to turn up at the "same hymn sheet," singing, dancing and bellowing their new found camraderie.
Ballard highlights, lying underneath the genteel facade, a nasty middle class animal, crawling to get out. A slightly different client group to the ex armed robbers, the retired middle grandees claim the mantle of civilisation. Tooth and Claw, is their ascent up the social ladder all wrapped in chinos, hand made shoes emblazoned on gieves and hawkes shirts and Hackett blazers.
Arriving at their social spectacle, two German cars, they live by the sea in a glacial tedium, gazing down on the throng. An inculcated form of an alienated habitus, entialing new social skills are needed, new excitements, gossip, sacrifice, establishment of communal values, the Daily Mail fear to be encoded to keep the wagons in a tight circle. Otherwise without the fear they become bored silly, unable to communicate beyond their alienation unless feeling vulnerable. Hate of the "other" binds them together as the cliff top "dream" is entirely vacuous.
As with Agatha Christie and the writers of Midsommer Murders, something nasty exists, whilst they show the abnormal. Ballard takes a different view and sees violence as cathartic, similar to Simmel. This hides the childhood memories, the fear of never being successful, the desire to vent power, what Ballard has composed is a De Sadean philosophy for the middle classes, whilst taking a long extended pin and bursting the moral parade. Morality the defining attribute of being middle class is revealed as a ball and chain to liberation.
A companion to Super Cannes, written as a sleuth, an investigation into lifetyles choices, than a particular crime, it is an incisive philosophical critique.
The writing is crisp and replete with dripping barbs, more philosophy than whodunnit. Exposing various guises and fronts people prepare for the wary onlooker, whilst secretly grabbing for the gin bottle and craving release from their self composed prison. Ballard highlights problems with new leisure and what to do for pleasure.
Lottery winners all turning vinegar sour under the hot mid day sun, putrify, as their perversions wreak open. It plops out of their tops and muffins out of their trousers.
A salutary expose, Ballard offers no answers- this is it- the world we have all craved for- unfolding endlessly.
5.0 out of 5 stars As one tends to expect from J.G. Ballard another brilliantly written novel.,
This review is from: Cocaine Nights (Hardcover)
Set in a Spanish ex-pat community this a tense thriller written with sarcastic wit that explores to quote from the text , `a social economy based on drug-dealing, theft, pornography and escort services from top to bottom a condominium of crime'.
Charles Prentice arrives in this strange community to discover just why his brother Frank, manager of the local sports club as confessed to a charge of murdering five people in a house fire! Everyone, apart from the local police, is so sure of his innocence that Charles decides to do some investigating of his own. His questioning causes all sorts of attacks upon him as he discovers a strong undercurrent suggesting that there are much more complex things of concern to the community than the death of five people!
At first Charles is sickened by the behaviour of the residents he meets but gradually he is drawn into their world. The person who has the most disturbing effect upon him is Bobby Crawford the club tennis coach who changes Charles Prentice just like he did his brother Frank before him. So much so that he accepts his logic without fully understanding that he is becoming involved in a bizarre social experiment.
A clever totally unexpected ending, though afterwards when I was still thinking about the novel I realised it was the obvious one, just that I had missed the hints!
4.0 out of 5 stars cocaine nights,
i enjoyed this book. the plot was quite implausible, but non the less i still found it a good read.
the ultimate goal for a lot of people is to have un limited leisure. how many people wish that there numbers come up on the lottery? the reality seems to be that if you do not have enough to occupy your time, you will decend into a bored waking coma.this seemed to of happened to the ex pat community in estrella de mar.the book goes to show how new experience can jolt us out of our torper. i liked the idea that activities that went on had got neighbours out and interacting with each other and help generate a community spirit again and helped rejuvenate the resort. i liked this idea and found it resonably plausible, but a majority of the ex pat community descending into a shared world of crime, pornography and murder i didnt. but on the whole if you can suspend belief, you will find this an enjoyable read. this was my first j g ballard book and it will not be my last.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Late Ballard, a bit tired,
This was another book I read upon finishing my English Literature degree, eight years ago, for light relief. The fact that it was modern and that it was set in sunny Spain appealed to me, but the book didn't live up to my expectations. I'd found Empire of the Sun stuffy when I had read it at school, but I had liked Crash very much, thinking it in fact a masterpiece (a pleasant surprise after that dreadful film). But Cocaine Nights seemed a bit tired, without flashes of Ballard brilliance. Solid stuff, all the same, but unless you are an avid Ballard fan, there is better stuff out there worth spending your time on.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting....but far too long!,
Ballard was fascinated by the idea of the dystopian society. Many of his novels exposed and examined the behaviour of groups of people, or even entire communities, whose lives, behaviours and morals are at odds with those of everyone else. Cocaine Nights exemplifies this fascination perfectly. A world-weary writer travels to Southern Spain to assist his brother who has been accused of murder and finds himself immersed in a creepy world of drugs, sex and crime. Gradually he puts the pieces of the puzzle together and discovers that it is only the existence of these vices in their lives that makes the ex-pats of the Spanish Costas feel alive and engaged with the world. With drugs, sex and crime they are active and alert members of society, without them they dull and soporific and condemned to endless therapy. It is an interesting concept and one which Ballard explores intelligently. The first hundred pages or so kept me interested, the characters are introduced, the scene is set and gradually Ballard develops his themes. After that, however, things begin to slow. Once I got the broad point I found it difficult to remain very interested. In my opinion the novel could easily have been completed in about half the pages without losing anything. Two thirds of the way through I fully understood the world Ballard wanted to create and could guess what would happen. Had he finished there I would have been more than happy, as it was I found myself quite bored towards the end and wishing he would get on with it.. Possibly an example of a powerful established author flexing his muscles. A good editor would have slashed this in half and thereby made it twice the novel it is.
2.0 out of 5 stars Never really got going,
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This review is from: Cocaine Nights (Kindle Edition)
Disappointing book easy enough to read and passed some time but just seemed lacking
If the reader didn't buy into the premise of the books message then seemed quite a futile attempt at creating a plot to give a platform for the authors central idea of monotony and boredom of the stupor of the wealthy retired or expat lifestyle enlivened by a created criminality.
Kept waiting for it to bite but never did and seemed more of a schoolboys competent attempt at a novel then a so called literal success
4.0 out of 5 stars Pacy but rather implausible,
Quite a tense thriller, though I thought it was obvious from early on that the solution to the whodunnit element was some kind of collective guilt. The underlying psychology behind Crawford's actions was I thought a bit implausible, especially the rapid change in the community in chapter 22, and I just don't think most people would react this way. This is a pacier read than some of his others that I have tried, though.
5.0 out of 5 stars Mind bending shocking, masterpiece.,
By A Customer
I spent the first 90% of the book wondering where it was going, and even then I got it wrong. The most shocking, satisfying ending I have ever read. The last paragraph puts the whole book into perspective, and what an amazing perspective it is. This is ingenious. I'm currently reading JG's latest, Super Cannes, I hope it turns out as good as this one did
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars `But to die in bed with his employer's wife showed an excessive sense of duty',
Yes, there is plenty of humour in J G Ballard's caustic dig at British ex-pat life on the Costa Del Sol but despite the claims of `dazzling originality' and `exhilarating imagination' it is instead a good but fairly conventional detective novel, very much in the English vein. Charles Prentice arrives in Estrella Del Mar, an outwardly genteel community of retired British professionals, where his brother Frank has confessed to starting a horrific fire which kills the Hollinger family. Frank was the manager of Club Nautico, the nerve pulse of the community, and nobody believes his confession, not even the police. As the Spanish police are ineffectual and disinterested Charles plunges into some clumsy amateur sleuthing to try and save his brother. However, he discovers that behind the façade of respectability the town is a hotbed of decadence and crime peopled by amoral and feckless egoists.
There is a popular tradition in English writing that enjoys depicting tranquil and genteel rural communities as a veneer for all manner of nefarious and murderous activities. An apposite comparison to Cocaine Nights would be ITV's Midsummer Murders series where deranged psychotics hell-bent on revenge lurk behind twitching net curtains or in watercolour classes. In Estrella Del Mar the principal force for good or for evil - depending on your point of view - is the implausible, floppy-haired, tennis playing Bobby Crawford who doubles as a burglar, high-powered drug dealer and pornographer. Charles is fascinated by the man and his motives and gradually becomes sucked into the dark underbelly of Estrella Del Mar and nearby Residencia Costasol forgetting about his brother languishing in jail.
Cocaine Nights is a pretty fast moving book, crisply written and not too deep, but the author does investigate the link between crime and creativity, demonstrates the danger of unbridled hedonism, and cleverly satirises the brain-dead, security-obsessed gated communities that were springing up in the 1990s.
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Cocaine Nights by J. G. Ballard