High Rise by J. G. Ballard ***

Reading dates: 29 May 2013 – 13 June 2013

High-Rise develops an interesting concept: architecture’s agency and its relation to psychology, in particular to perversion and the Id. Given my interest in psychoanalysis, one would think I would be all over this book. Yet, Ballard’s cold, detached style left me just like that: cold and detached. The narrative is good, but the fact that the reader follows three characters (Royal, representing the upper class; Wilder, the working class; Laing, the middle class) dilutes the psychological impact of the book on us. I could not focus. I also did not like his treatment of women. They are non-entities, automatons or prisoners. Same old, same old. I feel Ballard missed an opportunity here. On the other hand, I quite liked the parallels he established between children and dogs. Dogs get eaten at the end, though, and we don’t know what happened to children… Much good material but a slightly clumsy execution. And no bite whatsoever. It should have given me nightmares and it did not.