High-Impact Read

High-Rise is one of the more disturbingly poignant books I have read. A sort of urbanzied Lord of the Flies set within a mega apartment building, I finished it sometime last year and noted J.G. Ballard as a future go-to for when I might need to piss on society and human nature. Some light research on J.G. Ballard revealed that he also wrote Crash, which I assumed was the novel that inspired the Sandra Bullock/Ja Rule film that I didn't see but which sweeped the Oscars a few years ago. Last week, I actually found a copy outside of Strand for $1 and I braced myself for a moving tale of racial tension and maybe(?) a car crash or two.

Wrong. Book. Ballard's Crash is even wilder than High-Rise. As it unfolds, it reveals the twisted inner workings of a man so sexually obsessed with car crashes that he goes as far as deliberately enacting his complex fantasies, masturbating and orgasming upon impact. James Vaughn's victims become mere fetishized players in his high-impact sexual theatre. Combining his perversion with a voyeuristic obsession with celebrities and politicians, Vaughn plans and enacts his grand finale: fatal orgasmic impact with Elizabeth Taylor's limousine.

A cult classic, Crash explores our increasing addiction to technology and the ways in which that addiction has tainted human to human interaction. It's pretty fucked but Ballard's indulgence in the explicit fetishizing of each crash is cold and austere yet somehow effective, bordering on beautiful. A master of bleak social and sexual psychology, he makes it pretty easy to see the sexy in the collision of two walls of aluminum cascading inwards, pushing steering wheels into groins. I really can't do it justice so track down a copy and read it.

EDIT: It was Ludacris in Crash, not Ja Rule. Same person whatevs.