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High-Rise, by J. G. Ballard

Second paragraph of third chapter:
Far below him, the cars in the front ranks of the parking-lot were spattered with broken eggs, wine and melted ice-cream. A dozen windscreens had been knocked out by falling bottles. Even at this early hour, at least twenty of Laing's fellow residents were standing on their balconies, gazing down at the debris gathering at the cliff-foot.
I bought this, appropriately enough, at the Barbican exhibition last year. It’s a dystopian story of middle-class life in a tower block degenerating into a primitive society ruled by violence and caste division, with a small contribution from the media - or rather from the journalist who is one of the residents who shares the social degeneration. It is a bit Lord of the Flies for grownups - but at the same time, it is vivid and frightening; a direct riposte perhaps to the cosy catastrophes of John Wyndham, and surely inspiration for Judge Dredd who came shortly afterwards. Of course, this is partly a reimagining of Ballard’s experiences in WW2 prison camps, but it’s also interesting how much the building itself is a character in the book. I see that the film was mostly shot in good old Bangor, Co Down; I must give it a try. You can get the book here.

This was my top unread book acquired last year. Next on that list is Comet in Moominland, by Tove Jansson (which of course I have read, but long ago).


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 10th, 2018 06:21 pm (UTC)
I love Ballard but gave this one a miss, put off by the dog-eating (I gave the film a go on Film4 but it was late and I only made it halfway).
Aug. 11th, 2018 01:27 pm (UTC)
The film is excellent. If not cheery.
Aug. 15th, 2018 10:59 am (UTC)
That film had a particularly good location scout. There must be any number of dilapidated, crumbling, about-to-be-demolished brutalist leisure centres in the country, but to find one that is just across the road from the walled garden you need for the other scenes is going above and beyond.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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