Tuesday, 21 October 2014

The Crystal World by J G Ballard

"Grimacing to herself, Louise took his arm, as if barely convinced of Sander's physical identity in the nexus of uncertainty at Port Matarre."

If you peruse my bookshelf (real or on Goodreads) you will note a disproportionate number of J G Ballard books. Sometimes I query why I love his dystopian nightmares, yet conversely  they just seem so appropriate in today's scary world chock full of horrid wars, terrorism, and the threat of plague (eeew ebola) which pepper the 24 hour news cycle. I also think that Ballard has an economy of words that deliver so much as to be almost poetic, conjuring vivid imagery without an excess of prose  evinced by the size of the novel - under 200 pages.

 Continuing on the Ebola theme, which scares the pants off this reader, it seems particularly apt to delve into a book set in a remote region of Africa where a strange disease is causing chaos, commencing with the discovery of a dead body with a crystallised arm. Dr Sanders ignores impending quarantine to travel up river along with his new acquaintance / lover, Louise. There is something beautiful and at the same time foreshadowing around his depiction:
      "Beside him Louise's white body glittered in a sheath of diamonds, the black surface of the river below spangled like the back of a sleeping snake".

While he might have a new companion, this Doctor is actively seeking out his past, namely Suzanne Clair, who he had previously had an affair with and who has journeyed with her husband to work in a leper hospital in Fort Isabelle. Will he survive his journey into the crystal world? Well you will have to read it to find out. Can I just add how much I love these funky fourth estate covers? That's all.

4 out of 5 sane people would avoid a disease ridden place under military control, regardless of how it sparkled.

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