Book Review: “Super-Cannes” by J.G.Ballard

It is difficult to write a review of a book that you cannot make total sense of, but I will do my best.

For the first half of this book, I was surprised that the plot almost exactly mirrored Ballard’s earlier novel “Cocaine Nights”: Man arrives in self-isolated enclave and tries to solve a mystery. In doing so he becomes inducted and entangled in a way of life which at first shocked him.

This way of life is set in a gated all-in-one residential/business park. The overworked employee-residents are bored and sick of the long hours and associated lifestyle. Swimming pools and holidays won’t cure their boredom, but participating in super violence and criminal undertakings seem to improve the residents’ health and cure disengagement.

I intermittently questioned the realism of the story– why aren’t the authorities involved? Why won’t anyone tell the police? Yet in the end, this lack of realism is a welcome relief. For if we easily believe that aspects of Super-Cannes too-realistically represent our modern lives and those we see represented in the media, the book would become a horror story.

Super-Cannes made me think about the nature of work, leisure and violence in society. I questioned my role in corporate indoctrination and capitalist culture and I considered society’s desensitisation to violence. If you find any of those topics interesting and enjoy a surreal mystery story, you should read this book.

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