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The Concrete Island Audio Download – Unabridged

4.3 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio Download
  • Listening Length: 4 hours and 15 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Audible Studios
  • Audible.co.uk Release Date: 18 July 2014
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00LV1GJBG
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank:

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is Ballard at his malignant best. In a weird update of Robinson Crusoe, he tells the story of a man marooned in the middle of a London motorway, of his attempts to escape, of his survival strategies, of his encounters with the human wildlife of the contemporary urban environment. I read it years ago and it sticks in my mind like a splinter.
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Format: Paperback
This is a book I should have read earlier. This is a book I've had in the back of my mind to read for a very long time now, and it shames me a little that I've only just got around to it.

If you think about it, the notion of a man who gets stuck on a traffic island, a patch of wasteland at the intersection of the new motorway network, is something which could also have been done by the contemporaneous `Monty Python's Flying Circus'. (Imagine Michael Palin's 'It's' man staring forlornly at the traffic). But Ballard - from that period in the early seventies when he was at his visionary best - takes the situation entirely seriously, thinking logically and sensibly about how this would happen and what the poor castaway would have to do to survive and try to ensure his rescue.

Although if it was written today the author would have to explain what happened to the lead character's mobile phone, this still feels a fresh and contemporary novel. Reading it at this precise moment, where there's a lot of talk of the top 1% who take all the money and everybody else who has to pay for it (a debate which has even subsumed the new Batman film), then this book feels weirdly tapped into the mood. Our lead protagonist crashes his jaguar, and those he meets see him as a slick capitalist, an exploiter and try to give him a little comeuppance. So far, so Guardian reader's wet dream - but of course, this being Ballard, things never follow a predictable path

'Concrete Island' is a genuinely far reaching and yet small and recognisable novel. And it stands at the apex of Ballard's homespun science fiction.(
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By tallmanbaby TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 18 April 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Ian Fleming named one of his classic villains after the Brutalist architect Erno Goldfinger, clearly Ballard does not much like architects either. If a character in one of his novels is an architect then at best they are equivocal. Ballard’s hero Maitland is stranded on a motorway island, one of those odd interstitial places in cities that no one really owns or cares about. He is certainly not sympathetic, perhaps the least likeable of all Ballard’s heroes. For the first half of this short novel he attempts to escape and struggles to survive, for the second half things get a bit Pinter / Polanski as two new characters appear and things get even worse!

This is part of the trilogy consisting of High Rise and Crash that marked Ballard’s declaration of intent to write serious novels about contemporary themes, however it would not be until the publication of Empire of the Sun that he achieved widespread recognition.

The kindle version comes with short introduction by the author, and one by Neil Gaiman, as well as short biographical essay. There are the usual typos, for example Maitland frequently has an unnecessary hyphen in the middle. However on balance a reasonable effort for kindle.

This is a powerful and well written novel, completely different from what anyone else was writing. Although there are themes it is does not groan under the weight of literary allusions that mar some books. Having said that it can drag and often the physical descriptions seem to make little sense. Long swaying grass that never gets trampled underfoot, etc.

To a certain extent the novel is of its time, but it remains a powerful and inspiring read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm only half way through reading this book and may never finish. The text is regularly interrupted by mistakes that have clearly been caused by scanning the text and not checking the results. The first mistake, the character name Maitland being called 'Mart-land', appears within the first few pages and the error 'Mait-land' appears so frequently it's almost laughable. White City becomes 'White Qty' and so it goes on...

This book is cheaper in kindle format than paperback but given that the electronic reproduction costs are virtually zero it is very aggravating that the publishers could not be bothered to spend even minutes proof-reading.
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By A Customer on 10 May 2002
Format: Paperback
"A man crashes into a traffic island and has to stay there - what can possible happen here?" I asked myself that question, not knowing what to expect. In fact, I couldn't see where, if anywhere, Ballard could go. But, intrigued, I gave it a go - and how wrong was I!!
The lead character, a doctor with little morals, begins life on the island as a useless case, struggling to sustain himself with food or water. But things change when he realises he isn't alone - there's not only another person living there, but two, totally contrasting human beings. And so the struggle to survive and ultimately leave the island begins.
The most interesting part of this novel: out of all the devious and dispicable acts committed on the island - the two inhabitants being a control freak and, well, a kind of inbred prehistoric man - the most calculated, gruesome act is carried out by the intelligent doctor. And it is he - the intelligent, sholared and succesful man - who's desire to be the most dominant is the greatest. It's almost like a survival of the fittest he's playing with himself. Is Ballard saying something about our own innate humanity here? Perhaps.
All in all a very entertaing read which, as another reviewr described, 'sticks in your side like a thorn'.
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