An unforgettable voyage of the imagination from the best-selling author of Cocaine Nights and Super-Cannes.
In parched Port-la-Nouvelle in central Africa, Dr Mallory watches his clinic fail as constant warfare between a ragged band of guerrillas and the local chief of police causes the tribal residents to flee. In this drought-plagued and poverty-ridden country he dreams of discovering a third Nile tributary to make the Sahara bloom. During his search for water an ancient tree stump is accidentally uprooted and water wells up, spreading until it becomes an enormous river.
Naming the river after himself, Mallory becomes obsessed with his creation. But almost as soon as he has discovered it he resolves to destroy it. With the once-arid land now abounding in birds and beasts, he forges up-river in an old car ferry, clashing with hostile factions in a dangerous quest to find the source of his own creation.
A mesmerising tale from a master storyteller, this is a spellbinding fable for our times.
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.
A dream within Africa, a strange odessey, I never quite grasped where it was heading, and certainly not why. Obsessive to listen to, hypnotic, with a pump of helicopter blades in the mist.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
So this tries very hard to be a modern "Heart of Darkness", but it just did not work for me. I gave up. The major issue may be the narrator who is truly dreadful. I am not sure if he is trying for some "man with no name" accent, but it just does not work. His intonation bounces all over the place in a way that defies any potential nationality. He might be trying for South African, then mittel-European, other times just odd.
The story is a bit like a drug-induced stream of consciousness, where the narrator's grip on reality loosens over the course of the story, but it just does not work.
I do not know if I could have liked this book if I had read it rather than listening to this appalling reading, but there you go.
Enjoyed the storyline and the characters came alive for me. Some of the plot elements & technology now sounds dated but the story holds together well. If you like Ballard then this is a good read.
This is one of Ballard's more action packed tales, although the dark brooding contemplations of life and madness remain, a tale to revisit.