Yesterday I finished reading J.G. Ballard’s Crash. This is technically transgressive fiction, so the fact that the author goes out of his way to shock, disgust and horrify doesn’t really come as much of a shock. The problem is that I wasn’t so much shocked, disgusted and horrified as I was bored.
Yes, I realize that the book is almost thirty years old by now (it was first published in 1973), and the amount of violence and gore we are exposed to on a daily basis has increased to such an extent since then that it may well have served to lessen its effectiveness, but as far as I am concerned that is not the real problem. No, that problem goes back to something far simpler than that: call me old-fashioned, but there are some things I expect of a novel in terms of plot and character development, and it is in that regard that this book fails to deliver.
Does this mean that the idea lacks merit? Nowhere near it. In fact I realize that within its style –one I freely admit is not my favorite– the book is well written. My problem has to do with its length. As far as I am concerned, the idea is an interesting one, and Crash could have been a truly fascinating short story, twenty or maybe even fifty pages long… only it isn’t. It is a 224 pages novel that seems to drag on forever.
I spent one and a half afternoons reading this thing, and as far as I am concerned I would like a refund for one of them, the other half I would consider well spent.