Posted: November 7, 2013
Surprisingly enough, J.G. Ballard's High-Rise lost virtually none of its value in almost 40 years since its first publication in 1975. Indeed, this is a rare quality for a fiction novel, depicting in rather gruesome detail how a huge 40-storey apartment block of some two thousand people went violent, primitive, tribal, and cannibalistic. Lights go off, heat goes off, garbage chutes and elevators no longer work, and that's when bats, knives, metal chairs, home appliances and even bare hands come into play.
For an avid J.G. Ballard reader like yours truly (not sure that I deserve this “avid” description though, as I've read less than, I dunno, 15% of his books), it's encouraging to see how certain themes migrate through Ballard's body of work – from perverse mutilation of cars and limbs in his iconic Crash into no less exciting vandalism of a communal home and both mental and physical rape of its residents by its residents – or the air of the mass hysteria and clansmanship so similar to Ballard's last novel Kingdom Come, another must-read.
Googling to get some background info as I always do, I realized there is a rumor (not confirmed by imdb though) that Kill List's Ben Wheatley is set to make High-Rise into a motion picture as early as in 2014. Despite the disappointing Sightseers, if indeed Ben the hammer horror man takes upon himself with this task, this flick will be on top of my watchlist from the same day.
As both these men, Wheatley and J.G., know too well how to fill the atmosphere with acute anticipation of violence – and followed by actual violence. Scary.
A few people leaned on their railings and watched Laing without expression, and he had a sudden image of the two thousand residents springing to their balconies and hurling down at him anything to hand, inundating Laing beneath a pyramid of wine bottles and ashtrays, deodorant aerosols and contraceptive wallets.