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Concrete island by J. G. Ballard

Concrete island (original 1974; edition 1985)

by J. G. Ballard

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Title:Concrete island
Authors:J. G. Ballard
Info:London : Triad, 1985, c1973.
Collections:Your library
Tags:science fiction

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Concrete Island by J. G. Ballard (1974)

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This is an archetypal Ballard offering. A motorway driver, Robert Maitland, crashes his car over an embankment into an overgrown island of weeds and rusted metal between three motorways where, trapped and unable to climb out he is stuck and has to resort to ingenious attempts to try to attract the attention of the outside world and to survive in this isolated micro-world. In the second half of the novel, he meets two other strange characters on this island, and the struggles between them become a metaphor for Maitland's lack of control over his life and, like a long term prisoner, he becomes almost reluctant to leave the seductively welcoming isolation of his surroundings. I didn't like a lot of this interaction and I thought the novel might have worked better as a short story or novella without it. Interesting and thought provoking as most Ballard novels, but with the same sense of lack of realism as many of them - are we really to believe no-one saw or heard the crash in the first place? ( )
  john257hopper | Apr 14, 2014 |
Maitland crashes his jaguar down a steep embankment at the confluence of three motorways onto an island (or so he refers to it since it is effectively cut off from the surrounding city). He becomes seriously injured and is unable to escape despite several attempts and is struggling to meet his basic needs for survival. Enter: the natives. I can't say that this was a good story, yet I was entranced all day. ( )
  dandelionroots | Oct 10, 2013 |
well--that was quite a predicament. ( )
  dmarsh451 | Mar 31, 2013 |
Een erg goede moderne variant op Robinson Crusoe. ( )
  ronaldkaptein | Oct 19, 2012 |
I was aroused and taken in by this short novel -- a nightmare fantasy of contemporary society from the versatile pen of J. G. Ballard. The story opens with a crash that results in hero Robert Maitland marooned on a seemingly deserted traffic island just outside London watching the unconcerned motorists stream by. He gradually comes to the realization that his world of normal expectations had disappeared in this island that seemed almost in an alternate universe in spite of his sensations that reminded him of the world he had left behind.
This modern-day Crusoe encounters two inhabitants in his explorations -- a Sadie Thompson-ish neurotic runaway and a mentally defective ex-circus acrobat with the "natural dignity of a large, simple animal" -- whom he manipulates brutally in order to survive. He tells himself, "I am the island" and in case you missed that, the little tart reminds him later, "You were on an island long before you crashed here." Escape, then, becomes problematical: from where? to what? and on what terms? The "conspiracy of the grotesque" that traps him is more than Maitland's trial -- it's his only destiny, and perhaps no more than technological man deserves. Ballard handles this kind of reductive moral fable with incomparable finesse, investing the narrative with savage horror that eats away at banal appearance and reveals the skeleton beneath the skin. It is an allegory of horror in the sublime substance of isolation in a world gone awry. ( )
  jwhenderson | Aug 11, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 031242034X, Paperback)

On a day in April, just after three o'clock in the afternoon, Robert Maitland's car crashes over the concrete parapet of a high-speed highway onto the island below, where he is injured and, finally, trapped. What begins as an almost ludicrous predicament soon turns into horror as Maitland—a wickedly modern Robinson Crusoe—realizes that, despite evidence of other inhabitants, this doomed terrain has become a mirror of his own mind. Seeking the dark outer rim of the everyday, Ballard weaves private catastrophe into an intensely specular allegory.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:41:23 -0400)

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