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Condensed Novels

Tue Feb 9, 2021

Without wishing to attribute blame and in the interests of honesty, I must to cite Tim Maughan’s linking to this archetypal interview with J.G. Ballard as pushing The Atrocity Exhibition back into the forefront of my thoughts.

For me Ballard is not solely about the empty swimming pools or the luxury tower blocks descending into chaos. He’s not even about inner vs outer space. Although I am not going to deny that the common place images and arguments of his work are not important, only that they are not what interest me most about his work. The fiction of J.G. Ballard, whether or not is about form. He is a primary example of the Marshall Mcluhan dictum, “The medium is the message.” Style is substance. Narrative structure is the story. The condensed novels of The Atrocity Exhibition remove all that is extraneous from novels and presents only a succession of compressed artifacts. As a reader I care deeply about understanding how the argument is constructed and not necessarily the argument.

In August 2020 I started working on a short story. I hoped it would be quick. They never are. It exists on my computer as a series of images without much purpose. I get no excitement the story as a project apart from as a puzzle to solve silently in bed moments before I fall asleep. It would be healthy to just give up. It would be smarter to write a couple of condensed novels for my own private edification. It is time to accept that I won’t find a normal way to solve the problem I’ve set myself.

Maybe I’ll spend the rest of the month writing condensed novels.

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