Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Aimless Reading: The B's, Part 2

Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Ballard, J.G.
Crash/A Novel

A newish book, which I believe Jonathan Skinner recommended to me when he was teaching a science fiction class a few years ago. I had seen the Cronenberg film of this novel years before, but had never got around to reading it. Probably just as well, as I had forgotten most of it by the time I did get to it, so made no fruitless comparisons, other than to say I liked them both.

This is one of those novels that leaves a kind of stain on your consciousness long after you've read it, both because of the quality of the writing and because of the disturbing content of the narrative. For instance:

Vaughn died yesterday in his last car-crash. During our friendship he had rehearsed his death in many crashes, but this was his only true accident. Driven on a collision course towards the limousine of the film actress, his car jumped the rails of the London Airport flyover and plunged through the roof of a bus filed with airline passengers. The crushed bodies of the package tourists, like a haemorrhage of the sun, still lay across the vinyl seats when I pushed my way through the police engineers an hour later. Holding the arm of her chauffeur, the film actress Elizabeth Taylor, with whom Vaughn had dreamed of dying for so many months, stood alone under the revolving ambulance lights. As I knelt over Vaughn's body she placed a glove over her throat.

Could she see, in Vaughn's posture, the formula of the death which he had devised for her?

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