1001 Books Round-Up January 2023
This months winners and losers…
The Atrocity Exhibition by JG Ballard – BOTM#1 – What GR says: The irrational, all-pervading violence of the modern world is the subject of this extraordinary tour de force.
The central character’s dreams are haunted by images of John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe, dead astronauts and car-crash victims as he traverses the screaming wastes of nervous breakdown. Seeking his sanity, he casts himself in a number of roles: H-bomber pilot, presidential assassin, crash victim, psychopath. Finally, through the black, perverse magic of violence he transcends his psychic turmoil to find the key to a bizarre new sexuality.
In this revised edition, Ballard has added extensive annotation that help to unlock many of the mysteries of one of the most prophetic, enigmatic and original works of the late twentieth century. If you are going to read this book read this edition for the author notes (4th Estate)
My Thoughts: If I had not read the 4th Estate edition with author notes to explain each section I would have completely hated this book as it was I hated pretty much everything apart from the author notes. After reading some of the author notes I found myself thinking have you actually read what you wrote coz there is no way I was getting the message you think you are giving.
Ballard has an unhealthy obsession with violent death and sexual arousal and should definitely seek help but that is just my opinion.
All that aside Ballard does make some interesting points that are still relevant today the things that struck me were the ideas of fake news, Ballard’s viewpoint is that all news is fake because what they report and how is decided by the media for maximum impact can’t argue with that. I also agree with his point about the sanitisation of violent events like plane crashes because we are never shown the dead bodies associated with these events we are protected from how awful and violent they really are which makes it easier for us to dismiss them and move on with life.
3 stars – read this for the explanatory notes but don’t expect to enjoy it.
H(A)PPY by Nicola Barker – BPTM#2 – What GR says: Imagine a perfect world where everything is known, where everything is open, where there can be no doubt, no hatred, no poverty, no greed. Imagine a System which both nurtures and protects. A Community which nourishes and sustains. An infinite world. A world without sickness, without death. A world without God. A world without fear.
Could you…might you be happy there?
H(A)PPY is a post-post apocalyptic Alice in Wonderland, a story which tells itself and then consumes itself. It’s a place where language glows, where words buzz and sparkle and finally implode. It’s a novel which twists and writhes with all the terrifying precision of a tiny fish in an Escher lithograph – a book where the mere telling of a story is the end of certainty. Nope no Alice vibes for me.
My Thoughts: Wow just wow this book took blew my mind. You really need to read this in paper/hard back as there is no way this would translate to Audio and an e-reader is bound to put the page breaks in the wrong place so take my advice and get your hands on a proper book.
I am not sure I understood the story itself but the experience of reading this delighted me. I loved the uncertainty, I love the coloured words and the page layouts and I love Mira A (which is a good thing as we spend the whole book in her head).
The beauty and genius of this story is in the whole reading experience so I won’t waste any more words here except to say what are you waiting for.
5 Stars – Absolutely brilliant!
Pavel’s Letters by Monica Maron – Past BOTM Catch Up. What GR Says: Teasing her family’s past out of the fog of oblivion and lies, one of Germany’s greatest writers asks about the secrets families keep, about the fortitude of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, and about what becomes of the individual mind when the powers that be turn against it.
Born in a working-class suburb of wartime Berlin, Monika Maron grew up a daughter of the East German nomenklatura, despairing of the system her mother, Hella, helped create. Haunted by the ghosts of her Baptist grandparents, she questions her mother, whose selective memory throws up obstacles to Maron’s understanding of her grandparents’ horrifying denouement in Polish exile.
Maron reconstructs their lives from fragments of memory and a forgotten box of letters. In telling her family’s powerful and heroic story, she has written a memoir that has the force of a great novel and also stands both as an elaborate metaphor for the shame of the twentieth century and a life-affirming monument to her ancestors. So a family biography…
My Thoughts: Un-popular opinion but this kind of narrative just doesn’t work for me. I found it a very dry account and I felt I was kept at arms length from all the characters it was an unemotional read.
3 Stars – read it for the historical insight. Everyone but me seemed to really enjoy it
Have you read any of these? Let us know your thoughts.
Thanks for the Nicola Barker review – I’m a huge fan. I’ve added it to my Wish List.
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It is a great book