The Atrocity Exhibition

The Atrocity Exhibition The irrational all pervading violence of the modern world is the subject of this extraordinary tour de force The central character s dreams are haunted by images of John F Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe

  • Title: The Atrocity Exhibition
  • Author: J.G. Ballard
  • ISBN: 9780586035
  • Page: 339
  • Format: paperback
  • The irrational, all pervading violence of the modern world is the subject of this extraordinary tour de force.The central character s dreams are haunted by images of John F Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe, dead astronauts and car crash victims as he traverses the screaming wastes of nervous breakdown Seeking his sanity, he casts himself in a number of roles H bomber pilot, pThe irrational, all pervading violence of the modern world is the subject of this extraordinary tour de force.The central character s dreams are haunted by images of John F Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe, dead astronauts and car crash victims as he traverses the screaming wastes of nervous breakdown Seeking his sanity, he casts himself in a number of roles H bomber pilot, presidential assassin, crash victim, psychopath Finally, through the black, perverse magic of violence he transcends his psychic turmoil to find the key to a bizarre new sexuality.In this revised edition, Ballard has added extensive annotation that help to unlock many of the mysteries of one of the most prophetic, enigmatic and original works of the late twentieth century.This edition is part of a new commemorative series of Ballard s works, featuring introductions from a number of his admirers including Neil Gaiman, Iain Sinclair, James Lever and Ali Smith and brand new cover designs.

    863 Comment

    • Vit Babenco says:

      The Atrocity Exhibition is something like a shock therapy – it is painstakingly unpleasant but it makes one react.“Now that sex is becoming more and more a conceptual act, an intellectualization divorced from affect and physiology alike, one has to bear in mind the positive merits of the sexual perversions.”The Atrocity Exhibition is a series of dreamscapes or, to be more precise, madscapes born in the sick mind of the protagonist – the psychiatrist with the split and fragmented identity [...]

    • Cecily says:

      Impossible to rate or even classify this weird and disturbing book from the late '60s (it's not a novel, it's not a collection of mini-novels, it's not even a psychological treatise, though it has aspects of all three). It explores the links between death/danger and sexuality (his own wife had died suddenly a few years earlier). Parts of it will be thought obscene by many. It reflects Ballard's interests in psychoanalysis and surrealism: the very structure of the book is surreal. All of this mak [...]

    • Rhys says:

      I have mixed feelings about this book, as I do about all of Ballard's fictions. Ballard is brilliant, no doubt about that: he possesses one of the clearest prose styles of any writer, a style not just clear but unexpectedly ecstatic in a glacial sort of way. Some of his short stories are among the finest ever written. His collection *Vermilion Sands* in particular is absolutely one of the highest points of the form. As for his novels, they can be astoundingly original but also too obsessive.*The [...]

    • Paul Bryant says:

      The Atrocity Exhibition is a really a long poem, like The Waste Land or Four Quartets. This is why it's very easy to reconfigure the text as poetry.The lost gills of the dying film actressThe pilot watches him from the roof of a lion houseThe familiar geometry of the transfigured pudendaOn the way to a terminal zoneA fading harmonic fractured smile spread across the windscreenThe wig amongst the beer bottlesAnd you, coma : marilyn MonroeYou: coma : Marilyn MonroeO technique of decalcomania, O su [...]

    • Matt says:

      Revisited this right before ChristmasCheck out this back cover blurb:When the ATROCITY EXHIBITION was originally printed (1970), Nelson Doubleday saw a copy and was so horrified he ordered the entire press run shredded.What Nelson Doubleday allegedly saw that made him figuratively soil himself in righteous indignation was one of the stories near the end of this book entitled 'Why I Want To Fuck Ronald Reagan.' Legend has it that a wag distributed copies of this story (minus title and headings) a [...]

    • Nate D says:

      Not exactly a novel, Ballard may have written more involving narratives than this 1970 present-dystopia of modernity in meltdown, but it's unlikely that he has ever surpassed its severe and unsettling perfection of form and function, diamond-hard, brilliant, and single-mindedly focused. While each unit could function as a story (and they were originally published as such in the late 60s) there's also a total cohesion here that makes it more than a collection, into some kind of shambling and uniq [...]

    • Meredith says:

      Reading this was like being trapped in a doctor's waiting room and repeatedly bashed in the back of the head with a cast iron frying pan. Not plot driven, not character driven, just a series of graphic montages that just get weirder as the book goes on. At no time during this read could I have explained what was going on, and I was bored silly throughout, with a lot of WTF-did-I-just-read moments. I think the author might have been intended the book to be funny. Perhaps you are not supposed to t [...]

    • Michael William West says:

      It's enjoyable to see how much the Atrocity Exhibition confuses people, it's a mission accomplished, really, I can't think anything BUT that if you are somehow not confused, then you are missing the point entirely or are selfconsciously trying to understand anything and everything in the world in some vein attempt at pan-sophism. I don't know, perhaps it would help to have had a nervous breakdown to pick apart the flurry of fragments. Or more than one: one to understand, two for context, a third [...]

    • Fede says:

      The 60s according to Ballard: a world of mayhem and violence in all their possible shapes and manifestations, from deranged science to the pornographic use of catastrophes by papers and TV, in a surreal atmosphere of stillness and extreme acceleration at a time. This is not a novel. It's more like a scrapbook made of weekly magazines and anatomy manuals pictures, mathematic equations and visual art cryptic references. Its chapters are composed of short paragraphs with unrelated titles that can b [...]

    • Murray Ewing says:

      As a reader of Ballard, I’ve always preferred his early novels (The Drowned World, The Crystal World) and short stories (those collected in The Disaster Area, The Four-Dimensional Nightmare, and The Overload Man). Read Ballard for any length of time and you know he returns to the same obsessive images and landscapes again and again, often to powerful effect. Well, The Atrocity Exhibition is obsessive Ballard taken to the max. It’s the full Ballardian commedia dell’arte, replaying all the v [...]

    • Lisa says:

      By and large, I think J.G. Ballard is awesome, with everything of his I'd read to date being a real treat. Sadly, such things can never lastMostly flying at least 100 feet above my head at all times, this book mostly made me feel like a complete dumbass. I understood the meaning of individual words, sentences, and even the occasional paragraph, but as a whole? I know it's got something to do with sex and car crashes, but after that, I'm out. Actually, that's not quite true. There's also somethin [...]

    • Adam says:

      At first I thought this is going to be good. But the authors self-proclaimed "free association" method of writing quickly becomes tedious. In the version I read, each chapter was followed up with explanations. I found the explanations and their tangential ramblings to be much more interesting than the story itself. I could sum up the book in a few sentences 1) Car crashes are like sex and sex is like car crashes. 2) Ralph Nader, JFK, Marylin Monroe, Jackie Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor.

    • Michael Battaglia says:

      For all those people who read "Naked Lunch" and thought, "Gee, I'd like to read more of something like this but with a definite emphasis on the psychosexual aspects of architecture and how it mirrors the collapse of society" then not only have you come to the right place, but there is really nowhere else to go. Or for all those people who believe the world needs at least two books focusing on sexual arousal via the use of car accidents, you are going to be very glad this book exists. But for tho [...]

    • Misha says:

      Only a few pages in. Flashes of brilliance. He was a smart guy, this Ballard.This is proving a challenging and thought-provoking read.A couple of sentences I love:- "They hung on the enamelled walls like the codes of insoluble dreams, the keys to a nightmare in which she had begun to play a more willing and calculated role."- "For some reason the planes of his face failed to intersect, as if their true resolution took place in some as yet invisible dimension, or required elements other than thos [...]

    • Jay Green says:

      This and Crash are two of my favourite books, precisely because of their weirdness, because they showed the teenage me that something surprising and original could be done with the novel form beyond the staid and traditional forms foisted upon us as A level English students. (My less fortunate peers in the soft South had to make do with Hermann Hesse.) Both Crash and the Atrocity Exhibition belong very much to their time, of course, but they do encapsulate a sort of postmodern masculine sociopat [...]

    • Nikki says:

      I didn't expect to like or understand this book much. The concept, the experimental nature, drew me to it, but I know it isn't the kind of thing I enjoy. Find interesting, maybe, but not enjoy. The Atrocity Exhibition is so bizarre to me, so lacking in coherent narrative, that it's doubly hard to read.This book, the central character (such as he is, with his constantly fluctuating name/identity), is just -- it's a very fine portrayal of someone who is completely disturbed. I find myself wonderin [...]

    • Shawn says:

      A book (like Pynchon's V or Burrough's cut-up novels) to experience, not read.Seriously, you will be immersing your head (if not your heart) into a strangely dis-associative mindspace, made even more disturbing and poignant by its now-fixed place in the past. If THE ATROCITY EXHIBITION was a a marker, a beacon point in time, where are we, mankind, in relation to it now?Not for everyone, not for the squeamish, not for those looking for a narrative or story, not for the unadventurous, not for the [...]

    • Jeff Jackson says:

      One of the most visionary books I've read, a startling series of linked stories cataloging mental breakdowns, reenactments of tragic events, sexual obsessions with architectural patterns, the beneficial affects of war atrocity footage, and celebrity sex-death fantasies. Sample chapter titles: "Plan for the Assassination of Jaqueline Kennedy" and "Why I Want to F*** Ronald Reagan." Horrifying, but also tinged with an odd clinical beauty.

    • Isabel (kittiwake) says:

      An experimental novel about sex, death, media manipulation, car crashes and celebrity, written at the fag-end of the 1960s and foreshadowing various themes found in his later works. The narrative is very repetitive, with chapters telling versions of more or less the same story, and I found it by turns tedious and repellent. Rather too experimental for my tastes - it has taken me forever to read it, and it's only 184 pages long.

    • Joseph says:

      I can't decide between three or four stars. Completely random paragraphsxuality or cars and more importantly car crashes; JFK, Marilyn, Madme Chiang, and somehow ending plastic surgery. No, none of that is a spoiler. There is no plot, climax, or conclusionjust a tangled journey you get lost in.

    • MJ Nicholls says:

      Ballard's iconic experimental novel presupposing the death of affect and lending itself to the horrible drum loop that opens Joy Division's Closer. Includes such fun words as 'mimetized' and 'buccal' and 'polyperverse.' It's mad. Very mad. And also brilliant.

    • Tosh says:

      First I have to make clear that this is not the ReSearch annotated edition, but a mass market book from a British publisher Thiad Panther, and issued in 1970. Nevertheless this is a very stimulating book. J.G. Ballard is probably one of the great visionary writers regarding culture as it is now. I want to say he predict what will happen, but I think it was happening when he wrote his series of classic novels, but most of us were not aware of that 'Ballard' world that was and is clearly out there [...]

    • Stephen says:

      Whenever I think of Ballard's work, I sort of want him to be remembered as the underrated Palahniuk of a generation ago. Unfortunately that's not accurate. Palahniuk is a novelist who continually gives us stories with a beginning, a middle, and an end (the way he is supposed to). Ballard, on the other hand, is a flasher. He occasionally whips open his mental raincoat and shows us what he's got. What he shows you is shocking and disturbing, but as a reader you walk away feeling sorry for him in s [...]

    • Kevin Tole says:

      Written before 'Crash' but fundamental in sorting out the ideas that would go into 'Crash'.This is classic Ballard / Ballardian fiction. Even now it feels new and refreshing - so much further beyond the so-called success stories of British Modern literature - I'm talking the generation after Ballard - yer Amis', yer McEwan's and yer Barnes' - yer nouvelle novel vague vogue fugue. In comparison, those luvvies seem a continuation of the same dreary middle class Lahndahnocentric pish that we have c [...]

    • Fabio Puzzacacca says:

      Libro letto molto, molto a fatica e, devo dire, con una perenne ed onnipresente perplessità di fondo.Insomma, la retorica di Ballard è una retorica particolare, che ha qualcosa del beat ma mooolto più all'avanguardia. La narrazione intera sembra svilupparsi attraverso un'enorme ed immenso costrutto d'impressioni e connessioni inconscie, quasi insensate, come a volerci semplicemente comunicare COSA nella società è perverso e sporco, senza l'interferenza dell'azione e ricostruendo processi di [...]

    • Burninghouse says:

      Dated.Best read as suggested by the author himself: incompletely and at random.

    • Lee Foust says:

      The Atrocity Exhibition is a brilliantly conceived piece of fiction. In fact it's the only novel I know that comes close to the perspicacity regarding the political state of the world of Orwell's 1984. And I mean "political" in the very largest sense of the word--not the partisan tribal party nonsense--but the way we receive information, act upon it, what it means, and how we live both mentally and physically in the modern post-industrial nation state.As I read I was reminded of Steven Moore's c [...]

    • John Madera says:

      J.G. Ballard's The Atrocity Exhibition is a visceral phantasmagoria dismantling and remaking celebrities and politicians and various other strange, estranged, and/or deranged figures, where bodies merge with machines and machines come alive. Often seemingly free associative while actually incredibly controlled: "surgically" precise, the disorienting narratives, which discard conventional plots and so-called character development, are often upsetting or outright revolting. And it's all delivered [...]

    • Jonnathan Opazo says:

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    • Laura says:

      Undeniably disturbing but hauntingly memorable, The Atrocity Exhibition is difficult to rate, review or even describe. Utterly unconventional in every way, it is a diverse collection of largely unconnected snippets – some are narrative-based while others are fictitious scientific reports. Together they form a monstrous, disjointed portrait of violence, eroticism and celebrity. It's a satirical exploration of what types of grotesque, violent injuries are the most sexually arousing. (Although, s [...]

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