High-Rise by J.G. Ballard

August 2016

I’ve rated this with just two stars, not so much because I only thought it was “OK” - in literary terms, I think it’s more than OK - but because I found it so deeply unpleasant to read. The characters are mostly horrid, their community/society is utterly dysfunctional, their surroundings are stifling, and pretty much nothing good happens to anyone. I was physically repulsed by much of the book - the mountains of garbage, the yellowing swimming pool, the unwashed bodies… The misogyny is hard to take, too, and while some of the women get their own in the end, a lot of horrible things happen to them (and are said about them) before then. The whole book is kind of body horror in an architectural sense, a building twisting and rotting away, just like the community and people within it. It made me feel like scrubbing the house and taking a long, hot shower to wash away the grime.

Further reading…