Sunday, 28 August 2011

Paper Profundities

Modern suburban living and it's concomitant anxieties are revealed in the darkly comic, rather brilliant White Noise by Don Delillo. Jack Gladney, his wife Babette and their extended brood of children live a peaceful life off campus but their media soaked lives come under increasing strain when the town is threatened by a toxic cloud. Delillo is a superb writer and his stunning interweaving of threads like our relationship with technologies, foolish niche academia and the psychological encroachment of the media effortlessly fill page after page of this skillful satire that's as funny as it is tragic. If I was to find fault it'd be that despite being richly drawn individuals the main characters became a little tiresome in the final third and maybe the pacing of key events could have been improved. Still this is one fine book and given it was written 26 years ago a startlingly prescient one. I can't wait to read one of Delillo's more contemporary novels. Thanks to Sir J for the tip.

Crashing a plane into water near the town of Shepperton a young man transcends and transforms reality in J G Ballard's The Unlimited Dream Company. Quite unlike his early scifi dystopias or his later near-future prophecies Ballard's fantastical, William Blake inspired novel is a exhilarating fantastical narrative about nature and religion, er I guess. After the fatal crash our protagonist is imbued with great power and with the local populace under his sway they become witness and participants in his ascent into a strange, brooding Demigod. Unfettered and plunged into the mystic Ballard's writing has never been better as he creates dizzying scapes of preternatural fecundity, orgiastic metamorphoses and their flipside of fetid decay and insistent absorption. It's a hard novel to explain so you're just better off getting yourself a copy and diving right in.

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