Yes, I can appreciate the book's audacity and it's darkness. And yes, I do feel the author has something important to say about the direction that humanity is headed, becoming increasingly depersonalised in this age of technology. I can take on board the message about how sexuality could become subverted under such circumstances. (The characters become sexually fixated with car smashes, linger lovingly over pictures of the wounds of smash victims, haunt accident sites, get a hard on from seeing twisted wrecks, and believe a head-on collision yields the ultimate orgasm.)
But the descriptions are distressingly graphic and I almost lost my dinner at one point. (Warning: read on an empty stomach.)
Apparently an editor at Ballard's publishing house warned:
This author is beyond psychiatric help. Do not publish.If your curiosity has been stirred (heaven forbid), you can read an extract from it here.
A glance at the reviews on Amazon reveals that it's one of those books you give either one star to, or five, and I can quite see why. I might come back to it at a later dater. I'd love to see David Cronenberg’s controversial film of the book. I'll read the rest of Ballard's oeuvre.
Incidentally, loved this ("irreverent scientific") footnote reader magellan added to his review on amazon.com:
Good think that flatworms never got around to inventing literature, I suppose, or who knows what perverted stuff they would be writing?
And if humans think their sex has an element of violence in it--they should see how marine flatworms do it. It's called "penis fencing." The flatworms duel it out with their gigantic penises (eat your heart out, John "H." Holmes) and the first one to stab his big sharp dork through the skin of the other implants his sperm, causing the other flatworm to become pregnant and give birth whether he wants to or not. Biologists also think that these flatworms were the first multicellular animals to have sexual reproduction as we know it, which means that sex and violence have been linked ever since its earliest evolutionary origins.