Just read, The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard

IMG_0497Very clever little book this. I say ‘little’ as it is short but quite powerful in a sense that reading it was very atmospheric, immersive, almost primeval. It took me a while to get into it but all of a sudden it’s as if I was in a tunnel, hot and sweaty, feeling the pulse of the sun and the humidity of the jungle, all while sitting on a bus going home from work on a cold winter evening. Great read and I do hope people are still reading this. Quite often, with so many new books, people forget to look at mid 20th century classics, which is a great shame. I do love a post apocalyptic scenario but have mostly been reading more recent books until The Guardian published their list of 1,000 novels everyone should read four years ago. I copied the list and have been reading from it since, often making notes if I come across a particular author elsewhere. The British Library had an exhibition of sci fi literature a while back for example, Beloved got some books that he’d seen there and I’ve also slowly started looking beyond Iain M. Banks, Margaret Atwood and William Gibson. Another blogger, Joachim Boaz reminded me of The Drowned World and recommended some other classic sci fi titles and I’m very grateful.

It’s very rewarding reading these ‘older’ books although it has meant that my books ‘pile of shame’ is ever growing. Still, am quite pleased with how many books I’ve read this month. Just not allowed to buy any more until I’ve read that massive book about the history of the Mediterranean by David Abulafia. Why oh why did I not wait for the paperback…

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4 thoughts on “Just read, The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard

  1. I read this one, but so long ago I don’t remember much about it. Never really got into Ballard, although I did read a lot of his short stories – Atrocity Exhibition is the one that sticks in my mind, probably because of the Joy Division song of the same name.
    Have you tried Philip K. Dick? Frank Herbert? Isaac Asimov? Jack Vance? Stanislaw Lem? (I would suggest: Ubik or The Man in the High Castle or Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep – I could go on I’m a Philip Dick fanatic; Dune; I, Robot; The Dying Earth – which is Fantasy rather than SF; Solaris)
    For post apocalyptic, three fabulous novels: Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Russel Hoban’s Riddley Walker, and Will Self’s The Book of Dave.
    Cheers.

    • Thanks for the recommendations! Have only read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, a long time ago so wouldn’t mind reading it again. We have The Man in The High Castle somewhere and Beloved got some Stanislaw Lem and Isaac Asimov after seeing that sci fi exhibition at the British Library. Those authors are definitely on my list – once my own ‘pile of shame’ is somewhat reduced. Have read half of The Road but don’t think I was in the right mood for it at the time, would like to finish it at some point. The Book of Dave sounded quite good too.
      If you’re interested, the full Guardian list of 1,000 novels is here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/jan/23/bestbooks-fiction – came out in 2009 so it won’t have anything published since

      • Thank you – I was wondering whether I could still find that list!
        I almost gave up on The Road because it seemed to be heading for an inevitably appalling conclusion, but, whilst it is very sad, it’s also strangely uplifting.

      • I was actually thinking about The Road the other day and how I should finish it – thought it can’t just be the inevitable conclusion, otherwise everyone reading it would just get depressed and never recommend this book to anyone else.

        Re. Guardian book list, I just think it’s quite useful, there are authors I’d never heard of before and others that I needed (and still need) reminding of. It can also take you in all sorts of other directions, pretty amazed I’m still following it (on and off) 4 years later

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