A chilling novel about our modern world, from the author of Empire of the Sun and Crash.
An architect is driving home from his London offices when a blow-out sends his speeding Jaguar hurtling out of control. Smashing through a temporary barrier he finds himself, dazed and disorientated, on a traffic island below three converging motorways. But when he tries to climb the embankment or flag-down a passing car for help it proves impossible - and he finds himself marooned on the concrete island.
In this twisted version of Robinson Crusoe, our hero must learn to survive - using only what he can find in his crashed car. Concrete Island provides an unnerving study of our modern lives and world. With his alienating, ‘Ballardian’ view of normal events, this is a unique novel from one of our finest writers.
J. G. Ballard was born in 1930 in Shanghai, where his father was a businessman. After internment in a civilian prison camp, he and his family returned to England in 1946. He published his first novel, The Drowned World, in 1961. His 1984 best seller Empire of the Sun won the Guardian Fiction Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. It was later filmed by Steven Spielberg. His memoir Miracles of Life was published in 2008. J.G. Ballard died in 2009.
©1974 J. G. Ballard (P)2014 Audible Studios
The Concrete Island is a "modern" take on Robinson Crusoe, with dashes of 1970s era offensive terms and mindsets for flavor. If you are looking for a Robinsonade to thrill in the protagonist's ingenuity and will to survive, and you want it with a modern twist, go read The Martian. You won't find that story here. Instead, you will see a mildly unpleasant and very self-centered man deteriorate into a person whose actions made me feel physically ill. In spite of the intensity of disgust and frustration aroused by certain moments, for the most part getting through this book is more task than torture. There are moments of lovely prose, and the unrealized promise of a brilliant satire on the deeply outdated ideals that lurk below the surface in any Robinsonade. The final word on this, though, can only be "ehh".
"what we are and who we are"
This is a theory that has been explored by Ballard before. In his first novel 'Drowned World' Ballard peeled back the layers of domesticity to reveal that which we came from in other words delving in to our past through a character that trabelled south to ultimately find his destiny or forge links with that which came beflre humaity. In this book it's a bit like taking off or stripping back the layers of personality to reveal what we'd do to survive going through despeair and madness to the idea of us being a pack animal and learning to dominate before resignation and ultimately death. The Concerte Island is an interesting book from a human study pont of view and short so that the pace doesn't flag. Through robert Maitland we're taken on a journey through the layers or what we are and who we are plus what we'll do to survive when we find ourselves outside our comfort zone to use an awful modern phrase. it reminds me a lot of the early part of 'Ordinary Thunderstorms' (available from audible by william Boyd) and I would recommend it to anyone who likes to read a 'thinking man's' type of short fiction.
I couldn't give the story five stars though because there are some small holes in the plot and some issues with time. Otherwise a good book.
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