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'Naive allegory; messianic tendencies'

Author: • Jan 31st, 2009 •

Category: Ballardosphere, comics, consumerism


Great find from Pedro, who sent me a link to a Brazilian review of Kingdom Come — in the form of a comic strip!

Here is the rest of the strip.

And Pedro has kindly translated the text from the Portuguese, as follows:

British author JG Ballard became known for the 1973 novel Crash. The book, filmed by David Cronenberg in 1996, presents a group of people enjoying sexual pleasure in car accidents.

Another famous work is Empire of the Sun, about a boy who’s separated from his parents during the Japanese occupation of China in World War Two. The book was filmed by Steven Spielberg in 1987. (Balloon: Cadillac of the skies!)

Ballard comes back to the violent stylings of Crash in his new novel, Kingdom Come.
(Balloon: Technology and consumerism affect the middle class.)

The work is narrated by Richard Pearson, a forty-something unemployed adman going through a midlife crisis.

Pearson has just lost his father in a shootout in the food court of a mall in Brooklands, a suburban city around Heathrow airport.

Arriving in Brooklands to investigate his father’s death, Pearson finds out that the city revolves around the mall, the enormous Metro-Centre.
(Balloon: It’s the St. Peter’s square of the shopping world.)

Aside from being a commercial center, the Metro-Centre attracts nationalist hooligans, dressed in St George’s cross t-shirts who riot and persecute immigrants of any ethnicity.
(Balloon: These chinks and turks are fouling up the country!)

Later Pearson discovers that a group of local notable figures that hate the mall might be behind his father’s death.

While the mystery remains unsolved, Pearson participates in Metro-Centre campaigns starred by David Cruise, beloved Brooklands actor, and transmitted through the mall’s own cable TV channel.

A bomb attack in the mall takes Cruise to the locale, in a sort of fascist State coup.

A series of events leads the Metro-Centre to be surrounded by the army, with the novel’s main characters and other three thousand people taken as hostages. The ending is cinematic.

Ballard explores well the dark side of the English suburbs, but his naive allegory of the effects of capitalism and publicity is undercut by the messianic tendencies it so criticizes.
(Balloon: Shopping as religion: the root of all society’s evils)

..:: Previously on Ballardian:
+ Grand Theft Auto IV: Ballardian atrocities
+ ‘Audiopollution! They said it’d never hit us here…’
+ ‘Now Zero’ vs Death Note
+ ‘Enigmatic Engineering’ in the Wind from Nowhere

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5 Responses »

  1. Oh, there’s nothing more naive than this review… A couple of friends to whom I’ve showed this and haven’t read the book said that this makes Ballard look terrible.

  2. I think the comic strip alone without the text conveys the feel of the book superbly. I somehow doubt this was intentional but it is very Ballardian in its form. It reminds me of those old Michael Moorcock-edited New Worlds illustrations that accompanied the stories.

  3. I particularly like the way the caption about ‘o gigantesco Metro-Centre’ is illustrated by a Tesco supermarket. Cunning wordplay, or summat.

  4. Can any one say “Situationist International”?

    I love the idea of a comic strip review of a novel, but a pity the review is so brief.

  5. I too like the graphics, quite a bit actually, and I don’t think the actual review itself is that bad, being more an encapsulation than anything (certainly, there have been far more scathing reviews of KC) although I am puzzled by the ‘messianic tendencies’ Ballard himself is supposed to embody.

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