Obviously, it’s me.
I thought this was absolutely dreadful. Not just the worst book I have ever read, although there are a few candidates for that, but I can’t see how anyone can actually think it’s a novel at all, let alone a good one.
It gets three and bit stars on Goodreads, so some people obviously like it, but reading their reviews didn’t help me much. One said, presumably as a compliment, that Ballard didn’t waste time developing three-dimensional characters.
You can say that again.
I won’t bother summing up the ‘plot’, because that doesn’t say much to anyone who hasn’t already read it. And if you have, you already know. Nevertheless, a large part of what passes for plot is about a revolution created by the middle class.
Ho, ho ho.
Does anyone actually find that hilariously funny? I don’t, and even if I did, there is a reason situation comedies only last for half an hour. Spend a few hours reading Millennium People and you’ll find out.
I am always suspicious of writers who have a lot of books to their name. (This from a man who has written just the one novel). It tells me the writer is simply knocking them out, possibly for financial reasons, maybe because they are writing the same book over and over again. Perhaps they just find it easy. If so, it’s too easy.
Ballard has written, according to Wikipedia, 18. That’s not as bad as I thought it was going to be, but there are 17 collections of short stories as well.
Give me Harper Lee any day of the week. One book, To Kill a Mockingbird, and she died at 89. (I don’t count Go Set A Watchman, which is a first draft of Mockingbird and should never have been published.)
Can anyone really tell me that they can invest the emotional effort to create believable characters more than a few times in one lifetime?
I’d rather read Mockingbird 35 times than work my way through what you might laughingly call the collected works of Ballard.
Another thing I particularly despite in novels is topicality. ‘This book is about now.’ Or worse still, any mention of the word ‘zeitgeist’. As soon as you hear that, chuck it in the bin.
That’s because a book should be written for the long term. Something that looks at human character and emotions in a way we call all relate to, and that is timeless. People will still read To Kill a Mockingbird long after race has ceased to be an issue, because while the book is certainly about that subject, even more it’s about people.
Look at Shakespeare: he may have written about the issues of his day, but he did it in a universal way that means we can still get it today.
All right, it’s unfair to compare Ballard with Shakespeare. But is it? Both are competing for my time and attention.
I could go on. If I could give it nil stars I would, for that matter I’d give it minus stars.
Am I right, or am I talking rubbish?